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HIV Dating - Dating Opportunities for the HIV Positive
The day that you receive the HIV positive diagnosis can seem like the very end of reality. The feeling of just wanting to slither into a hole and let the world go on without you until you're gone can be hard to avoid. These sorts of thoughts will fade as you realize that you still have a life to live and that you should make the most of. But can dating realistically be a part of that life? It absolutely can be.
There are essentially two primary ways to go about dating with HIV: try to find other people with HIV or date the general public as you would otherwise. The advantages to dating others with HIV are pretty clear; you're much less likely to be rejected because of your condition. This isn't to say that once diagnosed with HIV you can only date others with HIV, but it is definitely a decision to consider. You'll almost certainly feel a degree of understanding from a partner who shares your unfortunate circumstance, but flatly limiting yourself to only the option of dating others with HIV might be comparable (on a very different level; obviously) to a 5'3” guy being unwilling to ask a 5'10” girl out. I think it's best to accept the idea of possibly finding a partner with HIV but also to keep your mind open to the possibility that your soulmate may be found anywhere at anytime. You are who you were before you were diagnosed. If someone without HIV could fall for you before, the same can happen now.
One method of meeting people with HIV is participating in an HIV/Aids walk or benefit function. Not only is this a great way to support those who may be in your situation, but it's also a great way to meet people who are in your situation, as well as people who are genuinely empathetic towards it. The acceptance you'll feel at a gathering like this can also be therapeutic in ridding your feelings of isolation or anxiety when elsewhere in the public.
There are many websites out there geared towards the dating possibilities for those diagnosed with HIV. A simple Google search for “HIV dating” will reveal a number of results. Some of these sites are free while others have a fee associated, so do the search and check them out; there are quite a few. I should note that the number of members on these sorts of sites is significantly smaller than the number of members on traditional dating websites and not even in the ballpark of the membership total of big social networking sites, so you may have to open yourself up to the possibility of a long distance relationship.
I would not recommend meeting people over standard dating sites or social networking sites though, at least not from the pursuing role. It's not entirely out of the question but generally people meeting over dating sites are hoping to find exactly what they imagined through their online interactions with their potential date. Dropping the HIV bombshell after you've already negotiated a meeting with someone online pretty much guarantees awkwardness and rejection, even if the person likes you. That's just the sort of surprise that people fear when diving into online dating, so you probably don't want to put yourself or someone else in that situation. If it wouldn't embarrass you or undermine your privacy (personal choice) though you could reveal your HIV status on your dating or social networking site profile and then just wait to see what attention you garner. There's not too much to lose when going about it in this way. You may find that there are people out there who find your physical attractiveness far outweighs your condition, as well as possibly meet others with HIV.
Meeting people without HIV will be similar to how you went about meeting people before you were diagnosed. Just because you have the condition doesn't mean you can't enjoy singles bars, clubs, coffee houses and finding dates through friends like everyone else. The tricky part comes after meeting, when you must decide how to go about revealing to the person you're interested in that you're HIV positive. Telling someone right up front (soon after meeting and possibly before going on a date) is an option to be considered, but you might also want to think about letting the person get to know you first, and perhaps telling them later on (when the relationship starts to move towards the more intimate stages). The advantage to being extremely forthright about your condition is that you can take the possible rejection early and avoid the heartbreak that would come after a strong connection has already been established. It's also likely that if you tell a potential date up front about your HIV status and you're rejected, the person who has rejected you will opt to form a friendship with you as opposed to exiting the situation entirely. Whether you want to accept this sympathy and build a different kind of bond is up to you, but I think you'll find that when people are faced with the reality of someone with HIV, they'll feel humbled in a way and appreciative for what they have. This is a good thing to bestow on someone, which is sort of a silver lining of the condition and one of many reasons why you definitely shouldn't be ashamed.
Waiting until later on in a relationship to tell your partner that you have HIV also has certain advantages. Once someone has gotten to know the person that you are, as opposed to identifying you (even in part) by the condition that you have, they may have a firmer grasp on the advantages that would come with dating you (whereas the person that you told up front probably won't know the wonderful intricacies of your personality for example). Don't be intimate in any way (even kissing) with someone before you've told them though.
Life does not come to a screeching halt with an HIV positive diagnosis. You should always know that you're anything but alone (there were an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV at the end of 2008; with millions more likely undiagnosed) and viewing yourself as anything other than a first class individual is unwarranted, unnecessary, and unhealthy. You may have to change the way you look at dating (ease off on promiscuity etc.) but love is out there for everyone, regardless of a person's circumstances.