Living well with HIV- Growing through relationships

Having healthy relationships is generally fundamental to everyone’s well being. The meaning or philosophy we attach to relationships when we form them, experience them and/ or break them often becomes a big part of our personal life story. Some people view relationships from a fatalistic point of view.

You meet who you’re meant to meet – full stop. It’s predetermined and there is little to no choice or freedom with whom you end up with. Others take a more romantic view on relationships, such as the notion of falling in love at first sight. If they do not work out there may be claim that they mustn’t have been ‘the one’ and that your ‘real knight in shining armor’ or ‘the one of your dreams’ will soon arrive. This view often rapidly diminishes the older we get. Real life has an amazing knack of squashing fairytale ideals.

Other people subscribe to the idea of experiencing personal growth through relationships. At first glance this seems like a reasonable proposition, however not all growth is the same. If for example as a result of relationships formed, experienced and broken, you may become more discerning, or picky, or judgmental of others, and subsequently yourself.

This path could be damaging and very quickly narrow the potentially awesome people you could be meeting. Alternatively you could believe in growth through acceptance. So after each relationship you learn more about yourself, who you are, and what you need. You grow in personal self acceptance and understanding. This then helps you grow in your acceptance and understanding of others, creating a more fulfilling relationship with whomever you choose next.

Whether you live with HIV or not relationships can be hurtful. But they can also be the most exhilarating, life giving and loving experiences of our life. Having a fatalistic view of relationships and living with HIV can be comforting in that whatever happens, it just happens. But it can also reduce your self capacity to act and respond. A romantic view is likewise a difficult proposition. I’m not aware of many romances where a person with a condition, in this case HIV, gets their ‘happy for ever after’.

Perhaps the more useful notion on relationships is to grow with them – maybe a balance between growing in your capacity to discern and accept is best. The reality is that I have only mentioned some relationship philosophies that I am aware of. Talking with others will reveal many more. The important message is to be conscious and careful about how we might give meaning to relationships and the philosophy we choose. Over time you could be writing your own personal life story by what you predominantly choose to believe. Have fun with your relationships. I encourage you to be fearless in experiencing them and growing from them with dignity love and respect.

Cipri Martinez