By La Truly
The other day, I had a conversation with my sister that opened my eyes to my own blaring stupidity which could have cost me my life. I was telling her about a guy I once met randomly, had absolutely nothing in common with – except purely animated physical attraction, but clung to him because he was fun and I didn’t want to be lonely. Our values didn’t parallel one another and our goals were… well, I knew mine… I never really got around to asking (or really caring) what his were. Things were light, fun and great. Then, this one particular day he decided to press the issue of unprotected sex. His argument for it included the following quotables:
“Well, you know I stopped messin’ with other people for you.”
“I get tested.”
“If you’re saying you want to be with me but you don’t want to have sex with me without a condom I feel like you’re saying there’s something wrong with me.”
“It just feels better without a condom.”
“I feel like you’re saying you don’t trust me.”
How did I tell him that HECK NO, I really didn’t trust him but I wanted him around? Should I just go ahead and take him at his word? He said he was clean and he wouldn’t lie to me…would he?
I knew that I never really trusted him because of the ladies’ man I knew him to be and his absolute love of sex. I knew that he lied to me constantly about other women, whether by omission or not. I knew that he was incapable of being completely faithful. I knew that he was trying to turn the whole situation around on me, as if my forethought for my own health was totally absurd and a slap in the face to him.
He ended up leaving promptly after I simply refused to answer him. My being speechless was more a product of bewilderment than defiance. And I have to admit, after he left I felt lonely, glad and stupid all at once. Lonely, obviously because he had left me alone and I knew that we would never recover our carefree relationship. Glad, because I had not allowed his incessant pressure to make me do something that very well could have changed my life for the worst. And I felt stupid because although I refused unprotected sex, I did so without assertively telling him exactly what I thought of him and his lowdown tactics. I despised the way he tried to make me feel guilty, totally disregarding my concerns. No, I didn’t trust him but I felt horrible even THINKING to tell him that. Why was I so worried about his feelings? If he had stayed another moment, would I have given in? How strong a woman was I really? My mind was reeling with thoughts, questions and ‘What ifs?’
In reflectively discussing the situation with my sister many months later, she said something deep about it all:
“Men make decisions about women all the time without one thought for their feelings. They’ll end a relationship for any reason when they get ready and move on without caring. Why do we, as women, tiptoe around, trying to be careful and spare men’s feelings when they don’t care to do the same for us?”
That hit me with such force. I had dodged a bullet through ‘just enough’ willpower, not through assertive ‘protect-myself-by-any-means-necessary’ force. I didn’t lay out the facts for him: That I knew he couldn’t possibly ‘settle down,’ that he was a liar and a manipulator and that I had so foolishly tried to override all of those facts for fear of losing his carefree companionship. I had been a fool. I had been a fool blessed that he left when he did. Blessed that the “relationship” ended where it did. Blessed that I could see my obvious weaknesses and begin to apply strength in those areas.
Since then I’ve been a whole lot less concerned with being alone. Self-improvement has occupied that time and space and I’ve learned one valuable lesson:
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Never put up with being bullied or ‘guilted’ into a relationship decision because you’re afraid of being alone. Those moments of weakness will chip away at your self-worth, your ability to make clear choices and even at your health.
If a man cannot respect my timing, my decisions and my values when it comes to MY body, he is not the man for me. I didn’t value myself enough to assert those points back then, but now… Honey, listen… they know from the gate so they can never say that I didn’t make it clear.
AIDS and other STDs are real and they are singlehandedly one of the biggest killers of our community. I have no desire to be a careless victim. In my opinion, it’s better to be safe, lonely and living than to be sorry, lied-to and dying. And I’ve got so much to live for.
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