Wanda & Co.
I was dating a man for a short while and it was the same old story. We met through an online dating site, exchanged photographs and basic information, had several chats and telephone conversations and set up a time to meet for coffee.The meeting went well and he was head over heels about me. He wanted to take me to his favorite restaurant for dinner, claimed he had not met anyone in a long time where he felt an attraction and enthusiasm for pursuing the relationship further. I must admit the attraction was mutual and I was flattered with the attention and interest he showed in me. It felt like reassurance I was indeed a desirable woman and for a very short while I felt “normal” as though I was back in my old life, before the diagnosis. I kept the meeting short and agreed to call him the following day.
I did not have a method or procedure for disclosing my HIV status at that time as I simply did not know how to proceed, when to disclose or what to do. I decided the sooner the better was the best approach. So the next day during our conversation I disclosed my HIV status to him. To my pleasant surprise he reacted well, said it was not a problem and that he was still very much interested in pursuing a relationship with me. I was elated and thought how lucky I was to find someone who was able to understand my situation and not be scared off before giving it a chance. He was curious about the virus and had done his own basic research on the topic but asked me for more information. I sent him many articles, links to sites and videos by medical experts which did include mention of how people on treatment and women in particular were less likely to transmit the virus. He understood this on an intellectual level but did express his personal concerns and fears about contracting the virus. Looking back on the situation now I do think his fears were somewhat exaggerated and overblown but I decided there was not much I could do beyond presenting the information that was available by the experts. He would have to decide for himself how he wanted to proceed.
Although he insisted my status was not a problem every day he became more distant and expressed many fears including death, dying, illness and whether I had someone in mind to care for me on my AIDS death bed. There was no reassuring him. About a month into the potential new relationship I began feeling anxious, unhappy, undesirable and decided to do us both a favour and call it quits.By that point he was planning our meetings in public places to ensure we were never alone at his place or mine as he did explain how he was afraid a condom might break.It was obvious he was struggling to find a way out of the situation. When I suggested we stop pursing the relationship he was immediately relieved as I saved him the trouble of looking like the bad guy in walking away from me due to fear of HIV.
We agreed to meet one last time at a cafe as I wanted to return some movies he loaned me. As we were walking we passed a sex shop. A while before I watched an episode of Sex and the City where Samantha used a great vibrator- the Hitachi Magic Wand – and the best part of the vibrator was, it was electric. No battery charger was needed and with the though of having no more used batteries in the house ready for ecological disposal this vibrator looked appealing. After watching that particular episode I really wanted one but being the pathologically shy person I am, it was impossible for me to go into a sex shop and buy one. So for years I walked by the store and only thought about it. Suddenly I turned to him when we were in front of the sex shop, described the vibrator and my dilemma, then handed him $100.00 and asked him to go into the sex shop and buy it. When he came out I thanked him and said good bye, never speaking to or seeing him again. We never did make it to his favorite restaurant.
I am now the proud owner of the HItachi Magic Wand and let me tell you, she is every woman’s dream. Sometimes there really is a silver lining in the clouds.
Years later I was a bit tempted, with scientific evidence being posted on many news outlets about undetectable viral loads and the likelihood of transmission, to contact him. But I decided not to. He was a well read and well informed individual and most likely he reviewed these new developments. The ball was in his court to decide how to proceed but somehow I think his internalized fear would not allow him to come to terms with scientific evidence.
This story originally appeared on Condom Monologues website, titled How I Met Wanda. Today it is being posted on the HIV Disclosure Project website in an updated version.