When I go out to meet friends I am usually early so I don't have a problem sitting in a bar and ordering a pint whilst I wait. I overheard a conversation whilst waiting in a pub the last time I was early for an event involving two men who were discussing the goings on in one of their lives.
From what I could establish (yes, I listened in, I can be pretty nosey at times!) one of them was discussing his partner who was HIV+ and it seemed that he was struggling with dealing with it. What I couldn't work out was whether it was a new diagnosis in a long term relationship or if he had recently met him and was struggling with the facts and debating if he could cope with it. (This bought back a load of memories like a "previously in the life of Christian..." episode recap of my own personal TV drama!)
I didn't listen to the whole conversation but the guy was asking his friend if he was being selfish if he said he couldn't deal with it, Then his friend said something which pricked up my ears. "Don't you think it's selfish of him to ask you to deal with it?" Now if I hadn't had to leave to meet my friends I probably would have stuck around and said something!
It got me thinking: Is it selfish to ask someone negative to "put up with it?" My reply in one word: "No."
Like most things however, it can be reversed and someone positive can ask if it's selfish for us to put up with someone forever worried they might catch it, whereas if we go with someone positive then that hurdle and worry just doesn't exist! My one word answer to this: "Yes".
For someone who spent two years post-diagnosis and coming out of a long term relationship on every dating app and site going, battling with finding a partner who either was positive or someone who could handle and accept my status, I know how hard it is, I've been through that struggle. Persistence however worked for me and I'm now in a relationship with someone who is not only HIV-negative but is not affected by my status either. (See my previous article where my partner Myron wrote a piece himself explaining it all.)
We should be grateful for being able to find someone who can handle our poz status. BUT just to be clear, that's not to say we deserve a barrage of abuse or a reminder of it - trust me, we fully know our status, so back off we don't need reminding! What I'm trying to say is we deserve love and happiness but we are not charity cases, we don't need a ticket to board the pity and sympathy wagon at the same time!
At the end of the day, we can be selfish in many ways regardless of status, race, age, etc.. As someone in a serodiscorant relationship, it's about understanding and balance when it comes to my HIV status on both of our parts.
For me, I am responsible to make sure I'm taking my medication on time and really looking after myself to ensure my CD4 stays high and my viral load undetectable, which in laymen's terms makes it unlikely for me to pass on the virus to Myron. This, on top of making sure we practice safe sex will minimise any risksl.
Also I need to realize he may have questions surrounding it all which may crop up from time to time and I need to be educated enough to answer them or point him in the right direction where he can find a solid answer.
Myron is just as responsible to look after himself. He is an individual after all so he needs to take personal responsibility not to be reckless also.
What is selfishness within a relationship?
Selfish is when either party is not being open and discussing everything in the relationship - from how they feel, to goals and discomforts/comforts, not just the bubble surrounding HIV status.
As with life goals, things can change, opportunities and circumstances can alter through no fault of our own and it's at these times both parties must really work hard to keep everything going.
If you set either short or long term goals, the plan should be to follow through with them. Some people can easily put things off, which could show fear or lack of concern behind it all for them or their partner. If plans are altered then one must make sure they give a definite answer as to when this can be achieved at a later date within a realistic time frame, otherwise it shows a lack of care and respect for the other person’s feelings.
The minute signs of selfishness show up may lead to a rocky finish if not addressed properly. Be it HIV-related, holiday planning, relocating or something as little as a plan for the weekend ahead, it is easy for someone to just think about themselves. At the end of the day, we are human.
Decisions should be discussed thoroughly with your partner to make sure you're both singing from the same hymnal. If we can't take into consideration how our partners feel about a situation as minute as planning the weekend ahead, how can we get through dealing with life's greater problems?
Selfishness is also not looking after yourself as well as your partner. That is no different if you’re both negative, positive or in a serodiscordant relationship. We need to be there for ourselves but equally for our partners.