An adult male hugging a comically large heart floating in space.

“It’s Complicated.”

The highlight of pandemic life: sitting at home on a Friday night with my dog Chip and my 4 favorite girls: Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte.

Prior to lockdown life, I would’ve enjoyed a night where I could just stay home and turn off. Here we are after months of it and, to be wildly honest, I’m going stir crazy.

With my choices in Friday night entertainment and despite efforts at being present, my mind keeps wondering to the possibilities of the future.

Thinking about dating and relationships during COVID

Dating has never been a class I’ve aced. In fact, if we were graded I’d probably have failed the course. When this all began, I was dating someone. But while the curve didn’t flatten, the relationship sure did.

So mix a pandemic, the false sense of digital intimacy, and top it with nowhere to go? This should be entertaining. So here I am, yet again poised, ready to re-enter the world and I have to wonder:

How do I process this?

Will there be happily ever after post-COVID or will the time I spend with myself make me realize that, after all this time, I’m the one?

I often oscillate between "when the time is right love will happen" and (usually after seeing some happy couple) "maybe that kind of love belongs to other people".

HIV has taught me a lot about self-love

Not to mention that HIV makes the whole equation, well, complicated.

Now, I truly cannot blame all of my relationship woes on HIV. Dating difficulties seem to be a common theme beyond my diagnosis, but we can save that for another time.

Whenever I feel that tinge of loneliness at night after some dumb romantic comedy, I try to appreciate the ways HIV taught me to love myself in the last few years.

My best days aren't behind me

It started the same way that most do after their diagnosis: thoughts of shame and unworthiness. Fast forward to the present, I have journeyed to a place of sustainable self-worth. Yes, I have HIV. Call me crazy, but I simply don’t believe that my best days are behind me, or that somehow my value has lessened or that I’m damaged goods.

How will online dating look in the future?

When it comes to digital dating these days, we are all charting an unknown course. What happens after the chatting and the zoom? What happens in the lull time? Will the consistent serophobia continue to run rampant in a world that will no doubt look different whenever this ends?

While dating and relationships these days seem like the definition of uncertainty, what I do know for sure is that if someone doesn’t want you in their life, especially if that reason is microscopic, why would you want to be?

Self-love often means making difficult decisions

Often loving yourself means making difficult decisions about who you allow in your life.

I hope in the complicated world that is dating in the modern age, you are prepared and willing to give yourself the love and companionship you want to give someone else. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

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