Dating Positively


By Aby Sam Thomas

Searching for love can be difficult. But one HIV-positive gay man explains the 'rules' and 'reactions' of dating openly in the 21st century

S. Anthony looked at B. Goodman’s face and smiled—in spite of himself.

At first glance, Goodman seemed an exceptionally good guy to date. With tired gray eyes, a scruffy beard, and a handsome face, Anthony felt that Goodman fell right into the “dorky cute” category. Goodman worked as an educator and a queer activist, professions that Anthony held in very high regard.

And if his endearing personality wasn’t enough, Goodman also had the gift of the gab, peppering his words with the most random, ridiculously funny things that left Anthony in stitches. Anthony loved a good sense of humor. With an almost perpetual smile on his face, Anthony was easily prone to anything from quiet giggles to loud guffaws.

With a slight stubble on a boyish face and short, close-cropped hair, Anthony didn’t look anything like his 35 years. He could have easily passed as yet another twenty-something on the streets of New York City. Goodman may have been easy on the eyes—but Anthony wasn’t too bad either. While the good looks came in handy in his career as a theater actor with a flair for music and dance, Anthony also had a day job as a paralegal at a law firm.

It was a June night, and Anthony and Goodman (full names have been withheld as per request) had started their date with dinner at Vynl, a popular and relaxed bistro in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. They had then crossed the street for dessert at a coffee shop, where they continued to make conversation over some exceptionally good chocolate pie. As third dates went, Anthony knew that this one was going just great.

Later, Anthony and Goodman walked toward a little park between West 49th and 50th streets, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, where they sat, talked, and eventually kissed. Anthony was a little taken aback by the public display of affection—as a naturally shy guy, kissing in public made him feel “dirty,” in a strange, unexplained way. But with Goodman, Anthony was surprised at how natural and easy it felt.

The two men then went on to watch a Broadway show with singers performing covers of Tori Amos hits. Through the concert, Goodman’s steady whisper of funny, snarky comments kept Anthony thoroughly entertained. After the concert, they made plans to meet again soon and parted ways on the subway. On the train ride back to his home in Queens, Anthony felt excited and happy.

But there was also a persistent, nagging feeling in the back of his head. After all, it had been his third date with Goodman. And Anthony was fully aware of the complexities of the “Third Date Rule.”

The third date in the process of courtship is often considered to be the “decision point” in a new relationship. Dozens of discussion boards on the Internet run amok with simultaneously nervous and excited people looking for advice on what to do on the third date; and the validity of “Third Date Rule.”

Although dismisses the “Third Date Rule” as a mere “dating rule of thumb,” blatantly calls the third date the “sex date: it is the average number of dates until it is deemed proper and acceptable to have sex with a new mate; therefore, the Third Date Rule is the implementation of this theory.”

But for Anthony, sex would have to wait until he revealed an important truth about himself. Anthony would soon have to tell Goodman that besides being a perky, multi-faceted Virgo, he also happened to be HIV positive.