Better safe than sorry on March 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
My boyfriend and I discussed getting free and anonymous HIV tests together. He agreed that it would be a good idea. We always practice safe sex. However, we broke up during Christmas and I made the mistake of sleeping with someone else unprotected. I haven’t told anyone else about this other guy because I am so ashamed. I haven’t even told my best friend. I feel scared.
Now, my boyfriend has decided that he doesn’t want to get tested together. I don’t even know if he wants to get tested at all. He consistently avoids or changes the subject every time I bring it up. What should I do? It is always on my mind. I am scared to go alone (partly because I hate needles). Please help!
— Alone and Needle Phobic
Okay, look. In this day and age, as unromantic as it may seem, getting tested is Just What You Do. No excuses. It’s not, like, some nuanced thing you even need to decide about together, like “Oooh, should we go buy the same rock climbing shoes?” You just do it. Together, separately, whatever, you just do it. I’ll spare you the sex ed speech, but you also just do it even if you haven’t Done It. Okay?
Um, Breakup Mom, you can skip the next paragraph. I promise there are no typos.
Okay. In an effort to reduce the stigma/fear/etc. surrounding this whole thing, I will say right here and now that even superheros are not “safe.” Breakup Girl gets tested regularly — even when, God knows, there’s no “reason” to — just because. First of all, it reduces the drama. Second of all, it’s a card she can play if ever, mirabile dictu,the situation arises (“Well, I was tested three months ago and I’m fine. What about you?”).
It can — and should — be just that matter-of-fact. If and when wrinkles arise — as they have in your case — something else is going on. First of all, trite yet true: if your boyfriend cares about you, he’ll stop futzing around and roll up his damn sleeve. This is not some “How come you don’t bring me daises any more?” girly whining situation. This is an issue big enough (as in, of life and death) to press him on — and, dare I say, lose him over.
And as for you, are you scared of needles — or are you scared of answers? First, about the needles. Come on, who likes them? BG’s trick is to just not look. Turn your head; close your eyes. Don’t look at them preparing the needle; definitely don’t look at them doing the mosquito on your arm. This really makes a difference, and it honestly doesn’t hurt that much.
About the “answers.” Look, there’s no point in beating yourself up any more. At this point, what’s really driving you nuts are all these pent-up secrets and unfinished matters of business. Tell your best friend; have her come along. She will. Just do it. I promise you’ll feel better.