It’s difficult to say exactly when things were over for my ex-boyfriend - let's call him Jihad - and I. We had a complicated relationship for about a year and then six more months of even more complicated drama. But if I had to put a date on it, I guess I would say we haven’t been together since last November.

I was Jihad’s first boyfriend. It was all new to him and most of the time he didn’t know exactly how to deal with the reality that he was in love with a man, yet completely unable to tell his family or many of his friends out of fear. I’m sure many men in Lebanon and around the world can relate.

The first time he cheated, after we’d been together for half a year, I took it in stride. I told myself that he was confused, that he was still young and finding himself. I forgave him and we worked it out, for about a month. Then he cheated again, and again, and again, and again.



The highlight of the relationship was probably when he hooked up with a random guy in my bed while I was passed out drunk next to them. To his credit, he actually admitted to it the next day, instead of weeks later as was his normal pattern. Somehow, I found a way to forgive him for that too, at least for a while.

If you’ve ever dated a cheater, then you might be able to relate. You think they’ll change. You start to believe them when they blame their cheating on you. You feel dependent and desperate, but then one day, enough is enough. Khalas ya3nee

So I cut him out of my life and even ignored the impassioned “I miss you” email he sent a couple months later. I saw him once in Gemmayzeh and all but ignored him. I mean, f*ck this guy, right? He treated me like shit.

Then, I got THE message. Jihad told me he was now HIV positive.

He was planning to go to Dubai for work. He had the job lined up and this was the dream he had always talked about, ever since our first date two years ago. When he went for the routine medical test for his work visa approval, he got the news.



I guess Jihad went a little crazy after our breakup and made some dumb decisions. Our relationship had kept him somewhat in check. I don’t know the details and it’s none of my business anymore.

I just know that when he heard the news, I was the first person he told.

He told me how sorry he was that he had treated me so badly. He told me that I was always loving and supportive and he lamented how now he had screwed up his life. He wrote how he wanted to go back in time more than anything. We could be together again and his dreams wouldn’t be destroyed by a stupid mistake.

Half of me wanted to beg him to come back to me. I wanted to promise him that I would take care of him, that I would somehow find a way to make it all okay. In the end, I managed not to do that but I told him I was sorry. I told him I cared and that I felt awful this happened to him. Alone in my room, I cried.

I blamed myself. If I had kept trying to make the relationship work, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten this terrible news? But my friend quickly pointed out that maybe Jihad and I both would be getting the same news if we had stayed together.

Regardless of how Jihad treated me or the unfortunate choices he made, I can’t help feeling a sense of empathetic pain. As much as Jihad hurt me, I don’t think he is a bad person. Selfish maybe, but we are all guilty of that at times. Now, because of some dumb choices he is forced to change his whole life plan.

HIV isn’t the monster it used to be and it is possible to live a normal life with the disease. But it still messed up his dreams. If only he had made some different choices, things could have been so different.




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