I am sitting here in a darkened room trying to not let the keyboard make too much noise. It’s early on a Sunday spring morning and although I would love to open the curtains and put on my short shorts and start my morning Mysore practice I am at a pause.
What’s the reason for this? Well it’s quite simple. There is someone else in my bed.
I made it a point and have even gone out of my way at many times to try not to speak about dating, love and relationships – mostly because I have been a pretty big failure in many of those arenas, also for privacy for the person I am with. I mean I live my life pretty open and honestly (at times bordering on the close to extreme) and want to respect the others around me as I write and share my journey, insight and life so that I am not oversharing any great details of theirs.
And yet here I am. The man I’m dating snores softly in the background while my hands click away.
Dating and HIV. We all talk about it and write about it on this site. Why? Well maybe because it’s a topic we all think about. When I was first diagnosed over 17 years ago, besides facing my own mortality, the next big issue or thoughts obsessed around one primary single thought – no one will ever want to date me again.
I want to say explicitly – this thought is a lie. However, if you tell yourself something over and over again, you will begin to believe it is true and make it true. I have spoken about other thoughts and ideas about body image and self-identity before but dating is something much more. It brings together all the insecurities of body image and adds onto it economic standing, mannerisms, fears and anxieties and deep feelings of insecurity.
Before going forward, I really feel a great fondness for the men that have been a part of my life; you know who you are. There were moments when facing my own mortality that the love and kindness shown to me through the care of one boyfriend sustained me through this dark time and even though it did not last, he helped motivate me even after. (And, as a side note, I cannot help but feel I motivated him as his career is now in palliative care).
But in my mid-30s and dating men again (because there was a time I wasn’t) I started making some decisions about my value and those around me. You see I kept ending up with men who had a problem or issues with me being poz. We would start this dating journey but things would just get odd or uncomfortable around sex and we wouldn’t discuss it.
There came a point, after several of these in a row, where I was just like “I am and you are worth more than this. Let’s just call this what it is, and both walk away”. I will not let my fear of being alone dictate my dating choices any longer. So after a stint of dating guys uncomfortable with my status, I thought that perhaps I’d just simply date someone who was also poz too. That would resolve the problem. So I started seeking like-minded men out who were also poz. But I was running into an entirely different but similar problem. Four guys in a row – all poz and all didn’t work out.
What are the reasons? Well it came down to lifestyle choices. You see I don’t smoke, drink or do chemical substances. In some way or another they all did. I was ok with and are still ok with friends, family, loved ones doing what they want to enjoy their lives but I have found that this just doesn’t work for me in my personal life anymore and I really try not to make it a big deal because it just isn’t a big deal to me – it’s just part of who I am in this body in life. So at the end of this I was left puzzling this statement “So, I’m too ‘sick’ to be dated by neg people and too ‘healthy’ to be dated by poz people?’
What I really needed and was looking for in a guy was more than just your average, run-of-the-mill man. Certain values and beliefs that are dear to me, I’d like valued by him as well. So I went back to the drawing board. And by honing in my radar, as it were, and being clearer about myself and how I live, I was able to find and meet more like-minded guys. Some have turned into budding friendships.
As I write this I think about some of my new friend dates that took me to a vegan restaurant that is now one of my favourites, or a brunch location and chat that gave me an appreciation for classic cars. There’s even one buddy who lives so far away, has a bf, and yet is close to my heart and life even though we’ve never met. So maybe these aren’t men I would date or marry, but they are gay men who value me for me. And their lives are wonderful and fascinating and by learning about them, I feel like I am growing too. Friendships are gifts.
If I am ever to truly date another gay man and learn to be intimate with him then I need to be able to be open to being intimate with others – allowing myself to be exposed, as it were, in a caring manner and trust that this is safe and valued to do.
I am really glad to be in a place in life and have that, but this has not always been the case. There have been many struggles and distractions; confusion about motive and love. Sometimes things have ended and I felt broken hearted. What I have come to realize is that it wasn’t the love, if there was love, between us that ended, but the hope and idea of this love-filled dream of tomorrow that died. It’s almost like I have been mourning a future that never existed. And the struggle and question I had been asking was “When will this happen for me?”
I don’t know the answer to that question. How funny would it be if the answer was something like “July 3rd, 2:17pm, stand by the fountain on the north side” What I do know is that I made a decision at the beginning of January 2014 to be open to it. I am open to love and a relationship. And it was going to mean some shifts. First off, I live like a bachelor. My bed was pretty much only big enough for me and my life was situated in patterns and behaviours. In many ways I can be quite predictable for someone who people see as spontaneous.
So I started making space in my life. Even though there was no one currently there I started making room for the potential of someone being there. So I made a plan to get a larger bed. I also started creating larger unplanned gaps in my life that I didn’t overfill with extra tasks and busy work. Next I started to re-arrange my apartment and home – keeping it cleaner and making it more inviting for another. Again, there was still nobody on the horizon.
It may not seem like a big deal but I have always found that making strong intentions and then following them up with actions really makes strong course corrections in my pattern of living. So I started them and here we are now.
He’s now softly snoring away in my new queen-size bed and the blackout curtains are still drawn while I type away madly and hopefully as quietly as I can to you all. It’s almost noon and there’s a beautiful sunny day going on outside but we are still in. I have unplanned almost my entire day which for me is a big deal. I may or may not practice today.
Letting go and allowing another is a pretty big yogic practice if I do say so myself – even though it doesn’t have as many vinyasas I’m as familiar with.It definitely has a lot of work for me to do: the role of a boyfriend for example. This is something I am open to and probably the first point in my life to be able to say I’m truly ready for, as ready as one can be that is.
My good friend Allie always says “Fear means go” and she’s so right. This area has made me nervous for so long but I am ready. Ready to be open. Ready to be there for someone else. Ready for the real possibilities of something else. Namaste.