Oh what a different world it would be if we all knew how to navigate the tricky and treacherous battlefield that is the gay dating scene. Not only must we face the same plights and perils of the hetero single soldiers, but we must also face the cold reality of a much smaller dating pool, our exes dating other exes and an unrealistic image of what it is to be shirtless. So we try to arm ourselves as best we can, because no matter how many broken hearts we bury, the battle for love must go on. But there is one surefire way of turning every future love scenario into a bloodbath, no matter how much of a match the two of you may be, and that is being HIV-positive and desperate for a date.
It is one thing to admit that you are open to finding love. It is quite another to constantly be wondering why you don't have a boyfriend. Before you can find the right man to bake cookies with and watch romantic comedies on a rainy Sunday afternoon, it takes realizing that you are better off alone than trapped in a relationship with Mr. Wrong... or Mr. Right Now.
Of course, gays who are too eager for love come in the form of both statuses, but an HIV-positive man is a particular breed of desperate. These guys will often approach a first date with the hope that their potential match will be able to overlook their positive status and give them a chance in spite of it all. Once they do, it is as if their date has done something for them and they instantly move up one, maybe two stages, on the clinger scale. All of a sudden, the pressure is on for this date to turn into a mate, regardless of personal interests or compatibility.
This is desperate talk from HIV-positive men:
"Why can't I find a boyfriend? Every guy I talk to on Grindr stops talking to me once I disclose my HIV status."
"I don't know what happened. Once I told him I was HIV-positive, he seemed ok, but then he never called again."
"I don't like to disclose my status until the third or fourth date. I want them to get to know me before I tell them I am positive."
If your date was looking for unconditional, unquestionable love, then he would adopt a puppy. And if you are hoping to trick someone into overlooking your virus because of your super funny personality or your similar interest in contemporary art, you are setting yourself up for yet another tearful ice cream-valium-vodka binge. Your status is nothing you can expect someone to overlook, but treating it as such exhibits an underlying insecurity, and it is a major turn-off, no matter how they feel about your status
Address your internal HIV stigma before your next date, because your inner bad ass deserves better than your outer coward making excuses for something you cannot change. HIV isn't a character flaw, it is a reality that someone either understands or they do not. Hoping and praying that someone will overlook your reality is a desperate move, especially when you don't even know theirs.
The truth is, we all should have conditions that our would-be-love must meet when we approach any potential relationship. You need to clarify what yours are before you try and meet someone else's. This is universal for all gay men, but a positive guy should have the compulsory condition of being viewed as an equal instead of privileged to date a man who is willing to overlook their status.
No matter how great Mr. Saturday night is, you should go into the date with the outlook that if he doesn't think you are the tops, then he isn't worth bottoming for, much less taking home to mom. Well, whatever position you want to assume is your call; just don't be worrying about if he calls you after. The next weekend is only seven days away.
Luckily, being HIV-positive doesn't make you very special in the gay community anymore. Substitute your status for any other trait or characteristic that invokes insecurity in a person, and the playing field is virtually leveled. If you are serious about finding a permanent 'plus one,' drop the desperation and find your confidence. You may think that is easier said than done, but all it takes is reminding yourself that your goods are worth their sticker price and you don't have to discount them for anyone.