So I was talking to
an ex friend an acquaintance about the dating pool, age (ugh), deal breakers and dating overall. I was expressing my annoyance and agitation at how, well, agitating dating is. Nobody has the time and patience for this mess. The explosion of social media has made it harder and more aggravating than ever in the history of ever. (Ever gotten a random dick picture in your private messenger?? Or what I like to call a UDP, an unsolicited dick pic? Anyone? Anyone? No? Just me? Oh, ok then.) People pretending to be what they most assuredly are not behind a computer screen. And why in the name of my favorite high heels, would you contact me, strike up a conversation from a different state, knowing you don't have the means to maintain a long distance relationship. Umm, who did you think was going to buy the plane tickets? I don't fly.
DISCLAIMER: I use the term dumb ass quite a few times in this posting. I don't generally call people dumb; however, we've all come across things in life that are just… dumb. It's a measure of my irritation of this conversation. I tend to write like I think.
Anyyyyyway… As I am talking about deal breakers (baby momma drama, and not having his own set of friends are on my short list, women with no ambition and no car are on his) my not-such-a-friend/acquaintance says to me
"You don't think given your situation, that you should relax your standards a bit?"
*here it should be noted that my back was to him, otherwise, this line of conversation probably would not have continued. My facial expressions lack a filter and an outside voice. Think a look of WTF meets I smell something bad showing on my face*
So I say, M&M's wouldn't melt in my mouth sweet, sugary sweet, "What situation?" Being that up until this moment this is my (and I use the term loosely) friend, I throw him a bone to fix himself. You know how we women do. We clearly heard you the first time, but we give you a chance to say it different to avoid the fight. "I don't stink and my weight category is firmly on the thick, not fat side."
Does his dumb ass take the hint? Nope. Course not. Hence the foregoing reference to us being acquaintances as opposed to having once been friends (up until 20 seconds ago when this conversation started to go left).
Since ya'll don't know me, allow me to let you in on what he considers my sit-che-a-tion. I'm HIV Positive. The HIV. Sometimes in my head I think of it as "THE HIV", pronounced like a word as opposed to saying it by letters. I suppose if I'm going to be fair, he is unlikely to be the only one who considers it a situation. Nonetheless, he knows my status, and I am strongly regretting the fact that he knows it at this point. Always a concern when you tell folk right? I have learned no matter how "good" a friend someone is, no matter how much time we spend, not every "friend" needs to know my status. The pure dumb-assedry of this conversation is a case in point.
He says "Your, you know, status Boo (he stumbles over status, because he's looking for the least offensive word. I make mental note of it, appreciate it, but I'm still hella, big mad irritated.) You don't think you need to give a guy a break? That's asking someone to accept a lot already." Had the nerve to sound matter a fact, and like my need to "give a guy a break" is a given.
Now I'm using both my outside face AND outside voice.
"What do you mean give a guy a break about my status?? First the *%$# (insert the Eff Word in caps) of all, you must be out your damn…"
Then I take a breath and try to use my inside voice. Temper temper. I'm a work in progress. I'm trying to do better overall. This includes not yelling, but excludes cussing. I ain't trying to be perfect, just better. Deep breath, teach don't yell. Teach not explain. I don't owe you an explanation. An explanation implies I've done something wrong.
A little more calmly I say "Number one, don't call me Boo. B, the HIV is a physical status, not a situation. The HIV is part of my truth. Are you saying I need to get less that what I would deserve? That I should date down? What if I didn't have HIV? Are my standards more reasonable if I didn't have a virus?"
The lightbulb goes on in his face. He knows I'm irritated now. I am actually hella, big mad, irritated. I see he sees it, but being a man, he has to finish what he started right? Dumb ass.
"I'm just saying B, you women have all these expectations already, and even you have to admit that's a lot for a person. Worrying all the time about getting HIV and how to manage a woman and relationship with it? Give a man a break. It's a big secret to have to keep. You might need to compromise a little."
My temper is SMOLDERING. Lawd have mercy. Is this man trying to lecture me on how much of a thing HIV is? I carry my symbiotic friend around with me daily. I feed it, I give it meds. I stay up to date on the best way to treat it. Hell, I teach other people about it as a nurse. I've cultured an understanding with it since it damn near ruined my life, but he wants to tell me it's a lot to accept. Compromise how? Don't tell the man? Tell him and treat it like a dirty little secret I'm ashamed of for the duration of that relationship so HE doesn't get embarrassed? It's starting to smell like unresolved stigma on his part and I don't like it. We've had conversations about this, like, damn. Was he even listening? Dumb ass. How long has he been turning this … this … opinion around in his head for?
Then MY light bulb goes on. It's not men in general that I'm (potentially) dating that my status is a lot for. It's THIS man that it's a lot for. Fortunately for both of us, he had been firmly "friend-zoned" long before this ever came up as a conversation, and now he has strikethrough-friend henceforth known as acquaintance status.
Am I, and women like me, supposed to take what we can get because we are positive? Shit like this is the reason people hide their status. This one drinks too much and gets mean, but it's the best I'm going to get. This one doesn't work, doesn't want to work, and can't keep a job when he does work, but let me continue to be supportive and pay ALL the bills. That one likes to slap girls around, but it's out of love, and who else is gonna love me? Or maybe he is just mildly disrespectful when he talks to me, but I can take it right? After all, I'm damaged goods anyway right?
Bullshit. That's bullshit, and I will never accept that. I will be alone forever before I will become less than worthy for someone who is less than perfect. I deserve better. I don't want or need perfect. I just want balance. A whole acceptance of the whole of me.
I say to him, "Look here Bruh. You need to listen when I talk to you about HIV. I've talked to you already about U=U and what that means for people living with HIV and sex. A man doesn't need to 'worry' about getting my HIV nor does one need to 'manage' my status. I got that. I'm sorry it's a lot for YOU. I'm also sorry YOU feel like you have been carrying the weight of it around. I'm sorry it's a lot for YOU to deal with and you've gone without talking to me about it. Don't speak for the next man. I am not lowering my standards or dimming my shine based on a virus that doesn't control me. I'm also not dating down, or settling for less than the average HIV negative woman. I am pretty sure that's not what God and the universe intended for me, and I'm rolling with that idea until proven otherwise. I'm getting the love I deserve, HIV or not."
If you’re reading this, Queen, don’t YOU settle either. Also, teach don’t explain. You didn’t do anything wrong.