How’s it going, it’s the internationally-known relationship expert and bald whirling-dervish of a manTaylor Snow Romancehere to answer YOUR questions and give you sweet, sweet (and occasionally brutal) advice about LOVE . . .
In today’s issue, I’m going to tell you EXACTLY when and how to tell somebody you’re dating that you have a sexually transmitted infection (even a really serious one) . . .
PLUS I’m going to tell all the balding dudes out there how to stay SEXY while losing your hair . . .
BUT FIRST . . .
Kefilwe asks . . .
“Hi Taylor, If I go out with a new guy and I am HIV positive, at what stage should I tell him my status, right at the beginning during our first date or when?
Please help coz I am facing a difficult situation. Am afraid I will scare him off.”
Thanks so much for writing in. I can positively FEEL your anxiety coming through the interwebs and let me tell you, I totally understand.
First off, even though it’s nowhere near the death sentence it was back in the 80’s (many millions of folks live long lives with HIV now with proper treatment) those three little letters are pretty damned terrifying to most folks.
So it’s totally reasonable that you’d be scared to bring this up with a guy and you need to accept right now that no matter how you bring it up or when you bring it up some percentage of guys are going to FREAK THE HELL OUT.
Is that fair?
No, not really.
Is it reality?
All that said, having HIV (or any other STI, actually) doesn’t need to completely destroy your romantic life, but you do need to go into any dating situation with a PLAN for how and when you’re going to broach this subject (which is, uhh, why you wrote me in the first place.)
So . . .
Let’s answer your question in two parts:
PART 1: WHEN do you mention that you have an STI?
To me, there’s only one hard and fast rule on revealing STI status and that is: “Before any intimate contact that could conceivably lead to infection.”
Plain and simple, every guy you date has a right to CHOOSE whether your HIV status (or herpes or any other of the myriad STI’s out there most of which folks don’t even know they have) is a deal-breaker for them and to be an ethical person it’s on you to reveal your status before any kind of sex that could lead to infection no matter how unlikely.
Does that mean you tell somebody before your first date or ON your first date?
I mean, how unromantic would it be to just spout off “Oh, by the way, I have HIV” as the waiter is clearing the salad course? (Sounds like a scene out of a very bad and somewhat offensive movie, actually.)
Um. No. (I have to say, though, it’s AMAZING the things folks say on first dates: I had one years ago where a woman said “Oh, I have a serious cocaine addiction” within 5 minutes of us sitting down. A quick tip: Your first date is not the time to reveal your addictions, your mental illnesses, your time in jail, how awful your ex was, or any other HEAVY stuff. It’s time to look into each other’s eyes and try to quiet the voice in your head constantly screaming “Am I fucking this up? Am I fucking this up?” duh.)
I mean, what’s the point of revealing your HIV status to somebody before you even know if you like him or if he likes you?
What I recommend is that you tell a guy you’re dating about your HIV status after your first or second date once you’ve decided that it’s a guy you’re attracted to and would like to see more of (and who seems at least somewhat interested in you.)
HOW do you tell him?
Well, that brings us to . . .
PART 2: HOW do you mention you have an STI?
Here’s the number one tip I can give you about telling someone you’re dating (or want to date) that you have an STI . . .
Don’t make a big deal about it. And do NOT act like it’s something you are or should be ashamed of.
See, the way most people mess this kind of thing up is by getting WEIRD about it. So many folks with an STI (or any other medical issue) act like there’s something “dirty” or “shameful” about them and that’s just bullshit.
The fact is that STI’s are incredibly common (many, many folks who think they are “squeaky clean” have HPV or some version of herpes. I mean, like 80% of humans have oral herpes even if they never have an outbreak) and that the risk of contracting an STI is simply part of the deal when you become sexually active. (Which is why safer sex is so important.)
If you act like your HIV status is something a guy “should” be repulsed by or terrified of then it will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. He’ll pick up on your nervousness and will run, run, run.
So here’s what you should say:
After your first or second date, before you say goodbye for the night tell him:
“I had a really wonderful time tonight and I hope you did too. I’d love to see you again, but before we go any further it’s important that I tell you that I’m HIV positive. I know those are scary letters to hear and I understand if you don’t want to go out again. Let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like to get together again.”
And that’s kind of it.
Now, is this going to guarantee that a guy will stick around?
No. Not at all. Like I said, some guys are going to freak out no matter what. But, if you are calm and don’t act too nervous or ashamed you will in fact find guys who are willing to stick around, get the facts about the risks to them and date the hell out of you.
ONE MORE THING:
If you want to avoid having to talk about it at all, there are actually dating sites out there specifically for folks with specific STIs. Just do a quick Google search for “HIV Singles” or “HIV dating” and you’ll find a bunch to choose from. Same for herpes.
And good luck.
ONE MORE QUICK QUESTION:
“Taylor, how do I look manly while growing bald?”
Ahh, an easy one!
Jason, you look manly while growing bald by SHAVING YOUR HEAD.
See, I started balding when I was 22 (A whopping 17 years ago).
And it was TERRIBLE. I spent HOURS fretting and worrying about the fact that women could SEE MY SCALP through my thinning hair. (Tangentially, when I was a kid I had a veritable HAIR HELMET. It was so thick they had to pin my graduation cap to my head. Seriously.)
THEN one night I was hanging out drunk with my friend James. I was complaining about my thinning hair when he said “Taylor, we’re gonna shave your head.”
And we did.
And I’ll tell you the MOMENT I shaved my head my self-confidence went through the roof. Because instead of worrying whether or not women could see my scalp I KNEW they could see my scalp.
So yes, SHAVE YOUR HEAD. DO IT. It’s a WAY better option than doing a comb-over or having a sparsely-populated forrest on your head. You might not be blessed with a perfectly-shaped skull as I do, but it will be better than what you’re doing now.
Besides, bald guys have higher levels of testosterone than dudes with flowing locks and I can tell you from experience that MANY women find bald dudes VERY sexy.
So take that, Fabio with your stupid, stupid hair.
OK, that’s it for this week.
Founder, Taylor Snow Romance, Inc
P.S. If you are frustrated by a man who is ignoring your calls or is taking you for granted, you should check out these 3 seemingly harmless questions that will change EVERYTHING and awaken his overwhelming feelings of love and devotion for you.