Partner lying to lover about HIV status
January 10, 2019 9:43 AM   Subscribe

My HIV-positive partner is deceiving someone he’s having unprotected sex with about his HIV status. If it were out of sight, out of mind, I might be able to ignore it but my partner seems infatuated with this other person and wants him to socialize with us. I’m disappointed in him and I feel uncomfortable but he said if I tell this guy the truth about his HIV status he will end things with me. What should I do?

I’m an HIV-positive man in an open relationship with another poz man. We are both on meds, healthy and undetectable. He recently started seeing a bisexual man who is HIV-negative and really seems to like him a lot. He even wants to invite the guy over for dinner and is very excited about becoming better friends with him. He seems infatuated.

Anyway my partner told me that he did not disclose his HIV status to this guy even though they had unprotected oral and anal sex. The guy even asked my partner if he was “clean”, a rude but very common way guys ask if you have HIV or not. My partner only told him “yeah, I shower regularly”.

I was taken aback by this. Yes, an undetectable person cannot infect anyone else and maybe this guy should know better. But my partner rationalized it by saying “If he were that concerned about it, he should have asked more directly about it and I would have told him” which feels like a cop out. Whatever the reality of being undetectable is, HIV is clearly a concern for this guy, who is pursuing a relationship with a woman, if he’s asking my partner if he is “clean”. Yes, the wording was bad, but the intention behind it was clear.

I’m not sure what I should do. If this were some random dude I’d never interact with, I could say “I’m disappointed in you but this is something between you guys.” But my partner is really keen on having this guy hang out with us and it makes me uncomfortable. I told him that if they develops a closer relationship and the guy finds out later about his HIV status, it could destroy their friendship. Maybe not, but if he were to come clean now, the guy may still be understanding. My partner became dismayed with my attitude and said if I ever told the guy that he’s poz, we would never speak to me again and we’d be over. But even if I don’t say anything, this guy could still find out; he may indeed ask more directly about my partner’s status. We are all on the hookup app Scruff and the guy could very likely see my profile which includes my own HIV status, causing him to ask about my partner’s. Even if not, I can’t imagine them being close friends WITHOUT my partner’s status being brought up at some point, since it has been a big part of his life.

Part of me is uncomfortable with being friends with someone my partner is lying to; I feel like an accomplice. Part of me is very disappointed in my partner’s deception and rationalizing of it, and it makes me wonder if he has ever decieved me in a similar way. And part of me is hurt that this guy he just met is so important to him that he’s break up with me if I interfered. He says I’m just jealous, which is partly true too. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (68 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell the guy and leave your partner. If he's lying to them, he's certainly lying about other things. This shouldn't even be discussed; and the fact that he is threatening you is unsettling.

posted by terrapin at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2019 [229 favorites]

WTF WTF that's TERRIBLE. Lying about your status to a partner you are having *unprotected sex* with is possibly the worst thing I can imagine. Please tell this person about your partner's HIV status. Honestly, even if he ends things with you, do you really want to stay with someone who can tell a lie of that magnitude and brush it off with excuses? No matter how much you like him, that kind of breach of trust when *someone's life* could be at stake would be enough for me to dump him proactively.

I would feel like an accomplice in this situation if I kept quiet. This has nothing to do with jealousy, my god, why would he even suggest that? This is about health and safety.
posted by ananci at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2019 [53 favorites]

My partner became dismayed with my attitude and said if I ever told the guy that he’s poz, we would never speak to me again and we’d be over.

- Tell the other guy
- Let this relationship be over

Seriously, if your partner is lying to this other guy about something this important, what is he lying to you about?
posted by anastasiav at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2019 [91 favorites]

This gives me huge anxiety because it's deliberate gaslighting. When the friend says "you lied to me" if he does eventually find out, your partner can choose to deny it on a technicality. In addition your partner is ...what's the term?...holding your relationship hostage? by telling you he'll leave you if you do anything about this bad treatment of the friend. It's cruel to you. Jealousy isn't even a blip on the radar of wrong things.

I hope you can safely get out.
posted by wellred at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2019 [17 favorites]

If he's lying to them, he's certainly lying about other things.

Came into say this, with the explicit addition of " you."
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 AM on January 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

Yyyeeah, this is pretty monstrous behavior. He's

1) knowingly exposing his playmate to HIV
2) lying about it
3) forcing you to socialize with him when you're clearly uncomfortable and
4) threatening to dump you if you tell the truth, which you should definitely do.

He's not worth it.
posted by zeusianfog at 9:52 AM on January 10, 2019 [33 favorites]

You do not want to be in a long-term relationship with someone who is behaving so unethically. I would dump him AND tell the partner.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2019 [20 favorites]

Congrats! This is the clearest case of DTMFA on MeFi in months! (And this one even comes with a side of TTPYPIKETOOTMSCDIE (tell the person your partner is knowingly exposing to one of the most serious communicable diseases in existence)!)
posted by suncages at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2019 [60 favorites]

Run like hell.
posted by palomar at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

I would not want to be dating someone who would directly lie about an important question and then justify it as not really a lie, and who decided his sex life was more important than another person's autonomy over his own body.
posted by lazuli at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

Several states regard your partner's behavior as a felony. Could you be charged as an accomplice if you keep quiet? I dunno, but I wouldn't wait to find out.

If you want to notify anonymously, the state health department might be able to help, if you have the other guy's name or number.
posted by basalganglia at 9:57 AM on January 10, 2019 [54 favorites]

Agree with everyone saying DTMFA and tell the partner. It's hugely unethical not to disclose HIV status and even worse to ask a partner or friend to be complicit.

Tell the partner, get out of the relationship. There's no room for ambiguity there. What he's doing is deeply wrong and you shouldn't be enabling it or trusting someone who would do this.
posted by jzb at 9:58 AM on January 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't disagree with other commenters' conclusions, but I do think their reasoning reflects a lack of widespread knowledge that those on treatment and with undetectable levels of HIV are at "effectively no risk" of transmitting it. Per the CDC.
posted by daisyace at 10:01 AM on January 10, 2019 [69 favorites]

Of course, if he lies about having HIV, maybe he also could lie about his levels and his medical regimen. But if not, then while this is a lie, it's not a dangerous, villainous lie in itself.
posted by daisyace at 10:03 AM on January 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

It is so important to disclose STD/STI with someone you are having sex with, especially unprotected. This person does not have even the slightest bit of concern or respect to offer the common and basic decency of being honest.

You deserve better. Nthing above.
posted by lunastellasol at 10:04 AM on January 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yes, undetectable means that there is an extremely low risk of transmission. HOWEVER--your partner is being a huuuuuuuuuuuge pedantic asshole re: how he answered the "are you clean?" question and just wow about having an STI and not disclosing when he's having unprotected anal intercourse with someone who has told him they're HIV-negative.

To be clear--I don't think you always need to disclose, there are situations where it's okay not to, but this is very clearly not one of them and says a lot about your partner's trustworthiness. I'm not going to tell you to DTMFA but...
posted by Automocar at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2019 [32 favorites]

Your partner is lying and he KNOWS he is lying, hence all the rationalizations. Lying about one's potentially transmissible diseases is denying the other partner informed consent. His partner might not have consented to sex if he'd known the truth and this is a huge violation.

You could maybe salvage your relationship if he realized how unethical this is and made amends, but threatening to dump you if you tell his lover is precisely why this is never going to work. Dump him first, tell the lover second, and get tested third. Who knows what else he could be lying to you about.
posted by lydhre at 10:08 AM on January 10, 2019 [23 favorites]

In most states it's illegal not to share your positive HIV status and it requires informed consent and is a felony. So moral qualms aside you might want to be careful what legal trouble you could get yourself into if you knew & did nothing & his new partner finds out.

Not saying the laws aren't archaic in some cases (ie some states include spitting on someone if you have HIV), just saying your partner is not only happy to remove his partners informed consent from the equation he may well be happy to break the laws of your state as they currently stand & make you break it too.
posted by wwax at 10:16 AM on January 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, just to second what everybody else is saying. There are precious few times when it is okay to be complicit in the lies and deceptions of another, and this is not anywhere in the ballpark of those times. This reflects very very badly on your partner's integrity around fundamental issues of consent.
posted by gauche at 10:19 AM on January 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

My jaw is on the desk over this Ask. Nthing DTMFA.
posted by Vek at 10:21 AM on January 10, 2019 [14 favorites]

I think you deserve better. In healthy relationships one partner doesn't threaten to leave in order to get their own way. It's selfish. Your partner is selfish. Sometimes that works, if both people in the relationship only care about themselves and their own needs, but it doesn't sound like you're happy.

I would tell the other person because you feel that it is the morally correct thing to do (I also think it's the right thing to do). I think you'll regret it if you don't, regardless of what happens with your relationship.
posted by valoius at 10:21 AM on January 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

Seriously, if your partner is lying to this other guy about something this important, what is he lying to you about?

There's that Maya Angelou line, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them."

This is your partner showing you who they are.
posted by gauche at 10:21 AM on January 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

I often think MeFites are too quick to jump to DTMFA, but in this case, it's totally warranted. This is absolutely monstrous behavior. Tell the other guy and dump your partner.
posted by FencingGal at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

I want to put in a word here against a certain current of discussion, though I agree what he's doing is really unethical.

I don't know the age of the OP or the partner. The AIDS era was a very damaging time for gay men, and if you were HIV+, there were a lot of people who would not consider you as a potential romantic or sexual partner no matter what. I think that's had some long-term repercussions for how some men relate to their sexuality, and I think the awfulness of the behavior we're being told about is mitigated, to some limited extent, by the fact that (as above), if he truly knows himself to be undetectable, the question is in practical terms irrelevant, and by the fact that someone asked him if he's "clean" which is in itself really terrible.

Sero-sorting was an understandable instinct at a particular time, if also one with some element of magical thinking, but it also gave rise to some sense that you could essentially say to someone "hey, we're both about to take the risk that you take when you hook up with someone, but the fear we all have of HIV means I can dehumanize HIV+ people as a means of emphasizing how much I don't want this to happen, and maybe that'll help." Bad behavior doesn't justify further bad behavior, but I did want to contextualize this. The fact that it's a felony in some places not to notify partners of your HIV status but not a felony to fail to vaccinate your kids which may actually lead to deaths should tell you something about the real purpose of laws like that.

I think there are questions within this question about how to manage an open relationship, e.g., but as to the main stated question, I think your consternation is justified even though you know (as your partner knows) that it's more an ethical transgression than a practical one.
posted by Smearcase at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2019 [73 favorites]

You should protect yourself. Just because it’s nearly impossible to transmit HIV while undetectable doesn’t mean you won’t still be blamed for keeping silent by the new guy or other friends, etc when the truth comes out.

You deserve better. You can get through the heartbreak of losing your partner.
posted by desert at 10:34 AM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

This kind of extreme dishonesty is insta-dump territory. Tell the guy and DTMFA.
posted by stormyteal at 10:34 AM on January 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

If you don't have trust in a relationship, you have nothing. You deserve better.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Because I am on my phone it is really hard for me to find it but you should be able to find the famous comment about the shit milkshake. Your partner is a shit milkshake. I would totally be up for a dating someone who is HIV-positive if that someone had essentially undetectable viral loads. Still, having sex with someone who is infected with anything should be my decision. That’s why I always disclose that I have genital herpes and usually disclose it on my dating profile so that people know it even before they meet me on the first date.

It is bullshit that people denigrate other people like me by saying they are clean or by asking if I am clean. That is rude and annoying. That does not justify lying to a sex partner by omission. The only real question for me, after reading your own question, is what this guy has been lying to you about. If you don’t have any self-respect, by all that is holy please develop some and leave this asswipe. It does not matter how wonderful he may be in other regards. Like a shit milkshake, this guy is simply not healthy for you.

Naturally, you may decide to stay with him and you may decide not to say anything to his other lover. If that is your decision, please take careful notes about how your partner treats you and other people in his life going forward. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2019 [27 favorites]

Because I am on my phone it is really hard for me to find it but you should be able to find the famous comment about the shit milkshake.

The comment actually referred to a poop milkshake, and is here.

Your partner is a shit milkshake.

I concur. If you know they're lying to their lover, then there's a chance they're lying to you - and if they think lying about something this big is NDB, then what might they be hiding from you?

We're not saying that they are hiding something, we're saying that they're the kind of person that thinks this behavior is acceptable. It isn't. this is a big red flag, and both the lover AND you can do way better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don’t see why it matters that your partner would in all likelihood not be able to infect someone else. That person directly asked him (albeit in a shitty way) and your partner lied. It is wrong to stigmatize people with HIV. You know what else is really wrong? Not respecting other people’s boundaries about who they are willing to have sex with. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. You are never obligated to have sex with someone, ever. To deliberately mislead someone in order to persuade them to have sex with you is a total violation.
posted by cakelite at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2019 [50 favorites]

Yes, "undetectable" may mean "untransmissible," and the stigma persists nonetheless, but, still, it is absolutely the other person's right to make that call about what risks they take with their own body, especially if they have explicitly (if offensively) asked for the information. (I understand that there are some social contexts from which one might more reasonably infer an indifference to or deliberate denial of the information.) I wouldn't want a person who would openly lie (and then dig in and defend the lie) about their HIV status in my life, period--it shows terrible character.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

The "if you're honest and tell this guy I'm making you hang out with (assuming he wants you two to be friends?) about the shit I'm pulling then our relationship is over" ultimatum is some manipulative bs. Don't compromise your ethics to be in a relationship.
posted by Fig at 10:45 AM on January 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

To protect yourself from possible libel, I would tell the third party that you are HIV+, your partner will probably tell his lover he had no idea, but if he is really nefarious he might sue you for revealing his medical problems. Anyway your partner is a narcissist, not good for you.
posted by Oyéah at 10:45 AM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Um, what? Is this some sort of weird test question to see if the people of Metafilter are honest? Christ, who the hell does this sort of thing -- deliberately lying to a partner about HIV status, when the guy actually asked, no less? (The whole "Oh, if he really wanted to know he would have asked" thing is so fucking twisted I can't even address it.)

And your partner is threatening you that he'll leave you? Jesus. Call his bluff, dump his sorry ass, and move on.

Just as a side note:

To protect yourself from possible libel

Maybe I'm missing the point, but the suggestion here is that OP could be sued for libel by revealing his partner's HIV status? Nope, and I wish people would stop purporting to give legal advice like this. Whether you should tell the third party anything is a separate issue, but there would be no defamation cause of action here, unless this whole question is a lie and the partner really isn't HIV+. And telling someone you're HIV+ when you're really not is a genuinely terrible idea anyway.

posted by holborne at 11:23 AM on January 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

My partner became dismayed with my attitude and said if I ever told the guy that he’s poz, we would never speak to me again and we’d be over

He's threatening to dump you and never talk to you again because you want him to treat people he has sex with in an ethical way, involving real consent and he doesn't want to do that.

His desire to lie to this man is more important to him than your relationship, and he has just flat out said so. He is willing to never speak to you again over this. He's just told you how very little you are worth to him, and how little he cares about treating you and other people with dignity and respect.

Get to safety, cut your partner off - block him everywhere, do not speak to him - and then tell the other guy. I am afraid for your safety if you tell the other guy before leaving and this guy finds out.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2019 [26 favorites]

DTMFA - but find out if it's illegal to disclose another person's HIV status in your area before saying anything. You may still choose to disclose, but know the legalities first. There may be a local org that can help you sort out your oblibgations here. (I'm a former AIDS Advocacy attorney)
posted by debgpi at 11:31 AM on January 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

Being in ANY sort of sexual relationship requires honesty, boundaries, and respecting boundaries. I would be very nervous if the person I was in an open with was disrespecting the boundaries of others and being dishonest.

The HIV is a red herring; the fact you can no longer trust your partner is the issue.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2019 [26 favorites]

Depending on where you are, your partner's actions are considered aggravated sexual assault. Your decision is now whether you want to continue your relationship with a rapist.
posted by FakeFreyja at 11:36 AM on January 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I agree that the HIV is a red herring given what we know now about treatment and transmission. HOWEVER, consent is conditional and requires honesty and respect and your partner has grossly violated that. He could have easily used this as an opportunity to educate his new partner in a way that cuts through stigma and relies on facts and science, yet he chose to lie and leave damaging stigma intact. Then he threatened you when you showed that you were clearly uncomfortable with a major ethical breach. That's not something a good partner does. It's time for this relationship to end.
posted by quince at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2019 [16 favorites]

Hey, he could just as easily be lying about his tcell count - maybe he ISN’T undetectable! Who knows!? He’s a lying liar who lies!
posted by clseace at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2019 [20 favorites]

(sorry, I misspoke and forgot that OP is HIV+ as well. Rest of the comment still stands.)
posted by holborne at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2019

This is rotten for you and I'm so sorry that you are being treated so badly. It's unacceptable to lie about HIV status, of course, and partner knows it. If he's confident it's not transmissible, why not be honest? To threaten to end the relationship of you are honest is really nasty, controlling, manipulative.

You deserve better. You deserve honesty. I can't see any way to salvage such a situation. Tell the new guy the facts, and move on.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think there are questions within this question about how to manage an open relationship, e.g., but as to the main stated question, I think your consternation is justified even though you know (as your partner knows) that it's more an ethical transgression than a practical one.

Yes, I agree that you should think of this as an ethical issue that needs to unfortunately end your romantic relationship with your partner. You have learned through this situation that your partner:

-is untrustworthy. He views honesty as a technicality and not a posture; he thinks it is acceptable to deceive others through omission as long as he doesn't say something untrue.
-lies to others to get what he wants
-threatens and coerces others (YOU) to get what he wants
-is not as ethical as you and does not have your strength of character. You are open about your status on the hook-up app, knowing it may cost you fun hook-ups; he is not. You have done the emotional work to deal with all of the terrible bullshit history around HIV status that other posters have discussed, and you are comfortable and confident in yourself. It is ok to expect your partner to do the same work and to only want to be in a romantic relationship with someone who is similarly emotionally ok with their status (or at least working on getting to that point).

This is not a man who can be a good partner to you and you should leave him.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:19 PM on January 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

If you can't bring yourself to follow any of the above advice, then tell the other guy that you are positive, he will get the message, and you won't be lying to him or going against your partners wishes.
posted by 445supermag at 12:29 PM on January 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

Everyone has pretty much covered the advice part of this question, so I just wanted to express some sympathy for you - this has got to suck so hard! You've really been dropped into a total damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation here through absolutely no fault of your own. Your partner has created a situation that means someone is going to get hurt, and rather than dealing with his own problem, he's making you do it, and that's gotta sting. Just remember that none of this is your fault, and you can at least walk away from this relationship and this problem knowing at least that you did nothing wrong.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2019 [24 favorites]

Would you want someone to tell you?
posted by ersatzkat at 12:44 PM on January 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Your partner has taken manipulation to a potentially tragic end. He's manipulated his new partner, who is negative and who ASKED, albeit in somewhat slang language, if your partner had communicable diseases. But YOU are the other victim in this. He's manipulating you by wanting to have the three of you socialize. How does he expect you will feel? Used? Shitty? Complicit? Exactly.

Yes, he is deliberately doing this to you, and you were probably the intended target all along.

Has your relationship with him otherwise hit a speedbump? Is he a thrill-seeker who becomes bored if things are "too calm" in the relationship? Have you seen other manipulative or callous behavior in the past?

This is such a hurtful situation, and I think he deliberately provoked it to extend control over you.

You deserve better. I think you know it, and know what you have to do. I'm so, so sorry this happened to you.
posted by citygirl at 1:00 PM on January 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am genuinely not understanding how you're fixated on very low-risk HIV transmission as the issue here when your partner is swapping fluids and having unprotected, casual sex with unscreened partners. Like, this behavior is so high-risk to all three of you that it I can't imagine how this can be a negotiated and well-considered way of opening up your relationship.

Regardless, your have opened your relationship and your partner has already chosen the new partner over you. Honest to God, the HIV is not the real problem here and you need to see that.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:01 PM on January 10, 2019 [30 favorites]

Part of me is uncomfortable with being friends with someone my partner is lying to; I feel like an accomplice.
Yes - that is uncomfortable, whenever someone is lying about something that would be material information to the other person.

Part of me is very disappointed in my partner’s deception and rationalizing of it, and it makes me wonder if he has ever deceived me in a similar way.
Yes - fair question

And part of me is hurt that this guy he just met is so important to him that he’s break up with me if I interfered.
Yes. This doesn't sounds like a strong, healthy open relationship.

Whether you tell or not tell, there are some real red flags for your own relationship with the guy. Throw in unprotected, casual sex and I think you need to think very carefully about what you want and how you deserve to be treated by your partners.
posted by metahawk at 1:38 PM on January 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

If someone is willing to lie about risking someone's health/life, that person is willing to lie TO everyone and ABOUT everything.

If he were drunk but looked sober, and threatened to leave you if you told the person he was about to drive somewhere that he was actually drunk, would you question for even one second what you should do? Even if you are jealous, are you jealous enough to let that person deal with all the stress and expense *you've* had to deal with by being poz?

I can't fathom wanting to be with someone who is willing to endanger someone else's health/life. Your partner is saying, "If you don't let me lie and endanger someone's health/life, then I don't want to be with you."

I strongly urge you to warn the person, say "Thank you, next!" to your partner, and take very, very good care of yourself.

You know the right thing to do here; you're looking for support, and you've got it. Tell. Walk.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:58 PM on January 10, 2019

What your partner is doing is absolutely evil and you should dunp him and tell the person he's having sex with about his status, full stop.

I don't throw words like "evil" around lightly, but that's what this is. Not many things in this world are truly black-and-white, but this is one of them.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:56 PM on January 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

And hey, since apparently we're splitting hairs over whether it matters that he undetectable levels, it does not. I am familiar with the pain of having to disclose an STI, OK? You still have to do it if you want to be able to live with yourself.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:06 PM on January 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I agree with a lot of what has been said, even if much has been populated with AskMetafilter's unqie brand of "soft HIV stigma panic" (which is better than almost everywhere but still really hard to read if you're living with the rest of the world's nastiness).

Strangely, even though I'm also an HIV+ gay man whose relationship with another HIV+ man has been open and has included serodiscordant partners, I'm going to ignore ALL of that because I agree it's mostly a red herring at this point and has been covered pretty decently by Juliet Banana and a few others above.

What I wanted to say is that it's totally okay if you're jealous. Humans in any relationships (sexual or otherwise) are prone to be both jealous and envious of other people, no matter how solid the relationship. It's ridiculous to pretend otherwise. How a successful open relationship works is trusting that your primary partner isn't going to put your feelings and well-being before their relationship/activities with someone else.

Not only is your partner doing this, he's putting his own need before both you and this other guy. (Your partners need, beyond getting off with this guy, is hiding his poz shame under a cloud of wordplay that he's personally excusing because of science (which I'm basically okay with because there's honestly very small risk of transmission) and stigma-covering (bad for many reasons but DEFINITELY because your partner is missing an opportunity to actually explain the current science to a man who is having sex with men aka SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO KNOW THE SCIENCE BETTER))

Given this, it also gives you no reason to think there isn't another lie coming down the road. This is far more dangerous to an open relationship than any feelings of jealousy or envy. If, in a relationship, "you're jealous!" is used a cudgel to win an argument rather than a barrier that needs to be worked around, then an "open relationship" is just one asshole and the other one who puts up with it. It absolutely sucks and I'm really sorry.

I also understand that it's very easy for keyboard jockeys like myself to tell someone else to DTMFA. We're not paying your rent or in love with this guy already despite his flaws. But, according to your question, you aren't in the wrong in this situation, and you shouldn't forget this, no matter what you end up doing. If you need a sympathetic ear who has not necessarily "been there" but has "been very adjacent", my MeFi mail is open and my email is my profile.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:07 PM on January 10, 2019 [48 favorites]

I have never hit favorite on a comment as fast as I favorited the first comment in this thread.
posted by davejay at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh dear. You are so right, and your partner is so wrong. As everyone here is noting.

Let's take a step back: your partner's new guy specifically asked about his STI status, and your partner lied to him (pretending it was a technicality is bullshit, as you know); then they had unprotected oral and anal sex. That means your partner had unprotected sex with someone under false pretenses, without consent. That's a kind of assault. Your partner did not have the consent of the other man. There was no consent for what they did.

Your partner knows this, and he'll say whatever he needs to say to manipulate you and the other man for what he wants -- unprotected sex -- because he is selfishly placing his own sexual pleasure and convenience over the basic ability of his partners to consent to those sexual activities. Consent! This is a consent issue!

It's not your job to stand by while your partner has non-consensual sex with someone else. It's not your job to perpetuate his lies.

Yeah, he's probably lying to you. This kind of lie isn't done casually, by someone who never lies.

(ALSO! Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, including gonorrhea of the throat and antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, are on the rise among men who have sex with men!)
posted by bluedaisy at 5:07 PM on January 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

He's not just lying to the other guy and asking you to lie for him, but he's behaving unethically toward the other guy's girlfriend (assuming other guy is open with the woman he is also seeing about having unprotected sex with your partner). Even if he rationalizes his response to other guy, somehow, it's unfair for him to make the other guy part of his lie and to lie by proxy to other guy's other partner. I'm sorry he's placed you all in this situation, and I hope you will be as honest as you safely can with everyone involved.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:56 PM on January 10, 2019

You don't have to tell the guy that your partner is sleeping with that your partner is HIV-positive, you just have to tell him that you are HIV-positive and regularly going bare back with your partner. That way you're not risking disclosing your evil partner's medical information.

Yeah, there used to be a huge stigma about people having HIV and still is, and people sort according to serology. But you do it the way you are doing it, but partnering with people who only have the same status as you unless you are willing to move on to a deeper commitment with possible risk after exploring the risk. I have known a lot of people who advertised and found partners by disclosing their HIV status as positive, because other ethical HIV - positive people could value them.

Your partner has already broken up with you. The relationship is one where he is dishonest, uncaring, exploitative and dangerous. That is not the relationship you hoped you were in. Joining the pile on: DTMFA
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:23 PM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

You know the right thing to do. Why on earth would you want a partner who lies about anything, let alone a matter that can affect this mans life/health and that of many other people?

This third man deserves to know. He did ask - and your partners evasiveness is bullshit.
posted by cat_link at 6:53 PM on January 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Everyone has the right to refuse to consent to sex for any reason, and your boyfriend lied to a sexual partner about something that was important to that partner. And now he's threatening you to protect that lie. It's a horrible violation of the other person. As painful as it must be for you, this is definitely cause to dump him.
posted by Mavri at 7:11 PM on January 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

The world is a big, beautiful place full of men with honesty, integrity, good values, kindness.
You need this. And someone out there needs someone with high standards like you.

You do not need someone who is testing you. And he is waiting to see how you react to his lies. Otherwise, why tell you? Why not just see the other man casually and leave both of you in the dark?
You can't win with someone like this, no matter what you decide.

Yes, the other man needs to know what happened in order to make his own choices, including any disclosures he has to make as an ethical person. That's his right.
posted by TrishaU at 1:16 AM on January 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

To me, that's an unforgivable sin. Your partner is not a nice person. Get rid of him before the poop hits the fan. And believe me, it will hit the fan.
posted by james33 at 5:34 AM on January 11, 2019

Wow a lot of poz/neg panic on Askme today, which is to be expected as different communities probably have different levels of understanding and comfort with the topic regarding transmission and modern medicine.. But maybe this is useful insight into the world Bi-guy may be coming from regarding his potential level of outrage.

If you were my mother, queen of passive aggressive sass, you could just have this guy over for dinner and just mention that you are poz, all casual like.

You haven't dumped him already, you've asked this question so I assume you're interested in a solution other than DTMFA? If you want to give him a chance to make it right: what I would do is tell my partner how unacceptable I find it that he lied to a partner to coerce sex out of them. I would re-frame the discussion to "if you don't tell him I will break up with you, then I'll tell him" because he's trying to blackmail you with dirt on himself ... like it's common, but crazy "if you tell anyone how terrible I am you don't get to have my terrible ass"... ok buddy.

if you do just want a chorus of DTFMA , then yeah, I implore you to dump this motherfucker
posted by French Fry at 5:55 AM on January 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Knowingly lying about your HIV status to a sexual partner makes the sex rape. The person has not been giving proper informed consent. Your partner is a rapist. It is extremely immoral for you to not immediately tell the other guy.

Again, I want to emphasize that if you do not tell the guy what you know, then you are doing something wrong. Inaction is an action here (as always), and it's an immoral one.
posted by hypercomplexsimplicity at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

You mentioned that it's possible the other guy could find out anyway without you telling him. From what we know about him so far, I wouldn't put it past your partner to blame you and break up with you anyway.
posted by BlueBear at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2019

From the OP:
Thanks for all your insights. Fortunately, I think he listened to me, though begrudgingly, and is listening to his better angels; he says he's going to cancel our dinner plans with this guy tonight and instead make plans with him alone so he can tell him about his HIV status.

I was very happy to hear this and I told him that if this guy is really as cool and spiritual as he says, he will be understanding. Maybe he doesn't even care that my partner is undetectable and knows that there's no real risk involved; a lot of guys ask me if I'm "clean" and when I tell them I am undetectable, they just say "That's fine, I just wanted to know if you had anything transmittable like syphilis". My partner said, "I don't know if he'll really be that okay with having sex with me anyway." But I'm glad he is going to tell him.

I have a pretty positive attitude towards my HIV status, but my partner does not. His feelings about it are tied up with shame, guilt and fear of rejection. This has brought up other issues between us, but he has assured me that there is no threat to our relationship from this guy, which is something I needed to hear. He's just excited to meet someone he really gets along with. Now that he's had time to think about what I've said, it sounds like he is ready to do the right thing.

I will let you know how it goes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:49 PM on January 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

How will you know your partner isn't just telling you what you want to hear?
posted by carmicha at 8:08 PM on January 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

How will you know your partner isn't just telling you what you want to hear?

This is my interpretation of the email from the OP as well. My advise is still the same: DTMFA
They are manipulating you.
posted by terrapin at 8:58 AM on January 14, 2019

I'm gonna be an outlier and say that it sounds like you two are ~beginning~ to process an uncomfortable and hard situation in a healthy way. You and your partner aren't on the same page about acceptance of being poz, and you are likely a healthy influence on him.

In addition to the near-universal chorus of DTFMA in ANY relationship filter question where someone isn't acting their best, most of the Metafilter population relates to HIV in a way that is vastly different from queer and trans people embedded in gay communities in urban centers. Those perceptions colored the answers you got.

Without excusing your partner's behavior — which you obviously know was wrong, hence the question — I don't think this is *in an of itself* a reason to end an otherwise compatible relationship as long as the situation is resolved and dishonesty doesn't keep cropping up in various interactions.

I am interested to hear how the conversation with the bi guy went and I wish you the best.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

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