Help! My Friend Hasn’t Told His Partner He Has HIV.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 8 2012 5:45 AM

Necessary Disclosure

My friend hasn’t told his partner he has HIV. Should I do it for him?

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Dear Guess,
It certainly sounds as if Susan’s realizing her life’s helpmeet is no help and not meeting her needs. But unless her husband is an irredeemable bum, now is the time for her to insist he put aside his get-poor-quick schemes and step up and attend to her during her illness. After all, an out-of-work husband is in an ideal situation to take her to treatments and bring her chicken soup. You don't say whether Susan's primary motivation is superior treatment or moral support, but since you say the facility near you is only slightly better, and she is not having, say, delicate brain surgery, I assume her request is less medical than personal. If you were to have Susan stay with you, it would be a generous thing to do, and I can’t imagine that one extra mouth to feed and trips to the hospital would destroy your family’s budget. But Susan’s request for six weeks of nursing is a serious imposition, and you’re not horrid for not wanting to shoulder it. It’s time for Susan’s extended family to come together to see how they can support her. Maybe everyone can chip in and give this pair money to pay for gas and some meal deliveries. Possibly you, your husband, and other family members could take turns spending a weekend each with Susan to help with her care and lift her spirits. No matter where she has her treatments, she can find services for getting her there and back and other kinds of support at the American Cancer Society. And you should feel fine about trying to find that sweet spot between selfish and saintly.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
The recent letters about whether to reveal one's fetishes and kinks inspired me to write about a dilemma I've had for the past 25 years. When I was in college I abruptly broke up with my boyfriend. He was crushed and heartbroken. We'd been deeply in love and had talked about getting married. Even though he's married now with children, he still contacts me every few years. The last time, we had a long talk and he said that the reason he can't totally get past our breakup is that he doesn't understand what happened. He said I had been the love of his life and he knows he "blew it" but doesn't know why. I gave him my usual story about being young and not knowing what I wanted. But the truth is that before our breakup, my boyfriend asked if we could try some more adventurous sexual activities. I agreed and it involved some light bondage and spanking. Afterward, I was seriously freaked out. I was upset to discover that he had a scary, sexually controlling side to his personality and then he pressed me to do more extreme things. I broke up with him with no discussion or explanation. I've always felt very guilty about the hurt I caused him. When he calls me again should I finally tell him the truth?

—Sorry I Fled

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Dear Fled,
A quarter of a century later and this guy is still trying to dominate and manipulate you. He’s convinced you he has no idea, no idea at all, why you fled. Surely it couldn’t have had anything to do with his insistence that he put electrodes on your nipples. Now he’s married with kids, but decade after decade he calls and says you’re the one. I guess he’s hoping by the time you both retire, he’ll finally break you down and you’ll agree to be punished for the hell you put him through. His kinks are beside the point: This guy is a thoroughgoing creep. You owe him nothing and the next time he calls say it’s long past time he lost your phone number, then hang up and let this worm squirm away.

—Prudie

More Dear Prudence Columns

My Twin Sister Says I'm Fat: Prudie offers advice on twins entangled in family rifts, rows, and rivalries.” Posted Aug. 25, 2011.
Give Grandpa a Kiss-Off?: A creeping suspicion tells me to keep my father-in-law away from my kids. Should I listen to it?” Posted Sept. 1, 2011.
Longtime Companion: Is it OK to hide my gay affair since my wife doesn't want sex anymore?” Posted Sept. 8, 2011.
Deadly Family Secret: My mother-in-law hid a life-threatening condition that could strike my child. How can I forgive her?” Posted Sept. 15, 2011.

More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts

Type "R" for Revenge: Dear Prudence advises a woman who got her cheating ex fired by sending a nasty email—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Aug. 29, 2011.
The Nudist Next Door: Dear Prudence advises a reader whose new neighbor needs better curtains—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Sept. 6, 2011.
Am I Dating a Swinger?: Dear Prudence advises a woman who craves a monogamous relationship but can't seem to find one—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.”

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.