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LOVE AFFAIRS

Scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep

New research accepted for publication in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep. This is true regardless of whether or not you are consciously aware that the scent is even present.

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Photo by Thiago Barletta from Unsplash.com

Forget counting sheep. If you really want a good night’s sleep, all you may need is your romantic partner’s favorite T-shirt wrapped around your pillow.

New research accepted for publication in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the scent of a romantic partner can improve your quality of sleep. This is true regardless of whether or not you are consciously aware that the scent is even present.

“A growing body of evidence has shown that close relationships are essential to our health and well being,” said Frances Chen, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and co-author on the paper. “But far less is known about the role of scent in relationships and social support processes. The current study provides new evidence that the mere scent of a romantic partner improves sleep efficiency.”

Previous research has shown that romantic relationships and close physical contact can provide many physical and mental benefits, including aiding in a good night’s sleep. Other research has shown that scents can have profound and evocative effects on the brain. What has not yet been clearly demonstrated is a direct connection between the two.

Chen and graduate student Marlise Hofer set out to investigate this intersection and to understand how romance, scent, and sleep interact.

Chen and Hofer began their research by asking one member of a heterosexual couple in a long-term (three or more months) relationship to wear a plain cotton T-shirt for 24 hours. During this time, the wearer was to avoid typical scent-producing behaviors, like eating spicy food or doing vigorous exercise. They were also told to avoid perfume, cologne, and antiperspirants. The T-shirt was then hermetically sealed and frozen.

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Afterward, the second member of the couple was given two identical shirts, one previously worn by their partner and another that either had been previously worn by a stranger or was scent free.

When a participant used their partner’s worn, scent-bearing T-shirt as a pillowcase, they experienced an average of over nine additional minutes of sleep per night. This equates to more than one hour of additional sleep per week, achieved without spending any more time in bed. The increase was due to participants sleeping more efficiently, meaning they spent less time tossing and turning. Sleep efficiency was measured using a wrist-worn sleep monitor that tracked movement throughout the night.

Participants also gave self-reported measures of sleep quality each morning, which increased on nights they thought they were sleeping with their partner’s scent.

“The effect we observed in our study was similar in magnitude to that reported for melatonin supplements–a commonly used sleep aid. The findings suggest that the scent of our loved ones can affect our health in powerful ways,” noted Hofer.

This research suggests that simple strategies such as taking a partner’s scarf or shirt along when traveling may have measurable effects on our sleep. Future research might determine if the scent of a romantic partner has additional health benefits beyond the domains of stress and sleep.

“These findings reveal that–whether or not we are aware of it–a fascinating world of communication is happening right under our noses,” concludes Hofer.

READ:  Study shows direction of kiss affected by partners

LOVE AFFAIRS

Sex during the COVID-19 outbreak

What are the risks associated with intimacy in the time of coronavirus?

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Photo by Cyrus Crossan from Unsplash.com

The past days we’ve been introduced to the concept of “social distancing” (that is, maintaining at least a meter apart from one another). But the concept continues to escape many (e.g. there’s even a call to deal with the elitism of the terminology by using different languages, such as #LikayLuwas in the Visayas). Because truly, it’s nearly impossible to practice “social distancing” particularly when with people with whom we share homes with – e.g. and even our beds, in the case of partners.

Now… what are the risks associated with intimacy in the time of coronavirus?

Is COVID-19 transmissible during sexual intercourse?

To start, COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted disease.

But – as stated by the Ministry of Health of Luxembourg on the European nation’s official website – “the virus being present in the respiratory secretions and being able to be transmitted by direct contact of person to person, sexual intercourse is favorable to a transmission of the virus, if one of the partners is infected.”

Other sex options may also include: sexting, video-calls, reading erotica and masturbation (not necessarily mutual when touching each other needs to be avoided).
Photo by Ava Sol from Unsplash.com

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Canada’s B.C. Centre for Disease Control stated that the novel coronavirus is “transmitted via larger liquid droplets when a person coughs or sneezes” and that “the virus can enter through these droplets through the eyes, nose or throat if you are in close contact.”

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via either vaginal or anal intercourse.

So what are (some of) the modes of transmission (particularly related to sex)?

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Touching can spread COVID-19 – e.g. it can be spread by touch if a person used his/her hands to cover the mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.

Kissing is a very common practice during sexual intercourse, and the virus can be transmitted via saliva. Meaning the virus can be transmitted by kissing.

There is evidence of oral-fecal transmission of COVID-19, implying that analingus may represent a risk for infection.

“If you live with a regular sexual partner and you don’t have any symptoms, or likely exposure, sex might actually be a really great way to have fun.”
Photo by Dainis Graveris on SexualAlpha

So what now?

Interviewed by The Guardian, Dr. Jessica Justman – a professor and attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center – stated: “If you or your partner is a COVID-19 case, the advice is to steer clear of each other as much as possible… If you’re a possible or confirmed case you should isolate yourself, ideally in a private residence until seven days after the illness began. You need to have had no fever for 72 hours, without using ibuprofen or anything that would mask your fever, and your respiratory symptoms should be improving.”

Added in the same article by Dr. Julia Marcus – an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School: “For people who don’t have symptoms and don’t have any recent likely exposure and have been staying close to home, I think that, if it’s within your own household, it’s a different story. If you live with a regular sexual partner and you don’t have any symptoms, or likely exposure, sex might actually be a really great way to have fun, stay connected and relieve anxiety during this potentially stressful time.”

READ:  Study shows direction of kiss affected by partners

Other sex options may also include: sexting, video-calls, reading erotica and masturbation (not necessarily mutual when touching each other needs to be avoided).

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LOVE AFFAIRS

‘Financial infidelity’ can be as harmful as sexual infidelity

Consumers more prone to financial infidelity exhibited a stronger preference for secretive purchase options, such as using a personal credit card versus a jointly held card, and cash over credit.

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Photo by tswedensky from Pixabay.com

Romantic partners aren’t always honest about money in their relationships, but when does hiding purchases, debt and savings constitute “financial infidelity”? Research by professors at four universities, including Indiana University, defines the concept and provides a means for predicting its occurrence within relationships.

“Love, Lies and Money: Financial Infidelity in Romantic Relationships,” forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first systematic investigation of financial infidelity in committed romantic relationships.

The professors define financial infidelity as “engaging in any financial behavior that is expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them.” It involves both the financial “act” and the subsequent concealment.

It differs from secret consumption and merely hiding spending because it involves a broader set of financial behaviors, including seemingly “positive” actions such as saving extra income in a personal bank account.

“Financial infidelity has the potential to be as harmful for relationship health and longevity as sexual infidelity, as conflicts over money are also a primary reason for divorce,” said co-author Jenny Olson, assistant professor of marketing at the IU Kelley School of Business. “Given the role that finances play in the health of relationships, consumers benefit from being aware of financial infidelity and its consequences.”

Growing in popularity is financial therapy, which combines finance with emotional support to help individuals and couples think, feel and behave with money to improve their overall well-being, make logical spending decisions and face financial challenges.

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“An understanding of financial infidelity can benefit financial services companies and advisors, clinical therapists and relationship counselors, all of whom play a role in promoting consumer well-being,” Olson said. “If couples seek professional financial advice, they must be willing to openly discuss their spending and savings habits, debts and financial goals. It is clear that financial infidelity is a barrier to effective planning, as well as to a healthy relationship.”

The researchers developed a “financial infidelity scale (FI-Scale)” using a dozen lab and field tests. Key findings included:

  • Whether the financial act is expected to elicit any level of disapproval was more important than the degree of disapproval.
  • Consumers more prone to financial infidelity exhibited a stronger preference for secretive purchase options, such as using a personal credit card versus a jointly held card, and cash over credit.
  • A preference for ambiguous packaging and shopping at inconspicuous stores.
  • A greater likelihood of concealing financial information from their partner in a mobile banking app.

Each choice is relevant to marketers. The prevalence of financial infidelity among consumers and variations along the FI-Scale affect purchasing decisions. It is important that companies be aware of certain consumer segments that may be prone to financial infidelity and thus affect their bottom lines.

For example, the trend of businesses going “cash-free” may affect retailers such as beauty salons and gift shops because of the use of cash to disguise purchases. Consumers strategically using cash may be less willing to make purchases only for their pleasure or personal wants.

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Other authors on the study are Emily Garbinsky, assistant professor of marketing at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame; Joe J. Gladstone, assistant professor of consumer behavior at the School of Management at University College London; and Hristina Nikolova, the Diane Harkins Coughlin and Christopher J. Coughlin Sesquicentennial assistant professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Sex facts nobody tells you about

If you don’t go to the right sources, you’ll find that there’s a lot about sex that you still don’t know. Sex is beautiful, but it’s also one topic that requires anyone to become educated.

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Sex. This word is possibly one of the most controversial in the English Language and for good reason. Sex sells, sex is racy, and sex is also amazing. But sex is also one topic that is still considered taboo in many cultures, which births so many ignorant theories that leave many people baffled. From basic quips to advanced theories, here are some facts about sex nobody tells you about.

The Myth Surrounding Sex Toys 

Many people think that only kinky or sex-crazed couples get to use sex toys, or that only middle-aged single women use vibrators. On the contrary, sex toys have been growing increasingly popular among many couples of all ages. For starters, sex toys have proven to spice up the bedroom and bring you closer to your partner. It does not remove intimacy, but rather enhances it. 

Sex toys like vibrators or even assistive devices like penis pumps can aid pleasure more than you know. Penis pumps creators at Penomet.com claim that it’s a revolutionary device set to help you keep your erection in an effortless manner, thus making you focus on one thing: getting the deed done pleasurably. These devices aid erectile dysfunction as well. Many vibrators also help women orgasm faster to enhance their sexual experience. Needless to say, some of these toys and devices might actually help elevate your sexual journey. 

Sex is Messy 

Remember those sex scenes in a movie where they’ve just had sex and lie in bed or get up effortlessly as if there was no romp in the sheets? In the real world, sex is quite messy and isn’t followed by an immediate cuddle session each time. Many people have failed to mention that after sex, you’re required to clean up your business. Whether you keep a towel next to you or you shower immediately, cleaning yourself up is the most sanitary thing to do. 

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Speaking of messes, one thing many ladies should know is that what comes up, must come down. If your partner ejaculated inside of you without a condom, then eventually his semen will come out a few minutes after; your body doesn’t magically absorb it. 

All About the Big O 

There’s still looming mystery surrounding the female orgasm. Believe it or not, studies have shown that orgasms get better as you age. There isn’t the kind of pressure to perform as you once had in your 20s; you’re more confident, you understand your body more, and you know exactly what you want. With women, their sexual prime lasts well beyond their 30s and 40s. 

One of the many misconceptions is that women orgasm from penetration. Believe it or not, that isn’t always the case. Many men (and women) believe that women can only orgasm with penetration, and if they don’t, then they’re super disappointed and claim sex isn’t that enjoyable. When, in fact, all that woman needs is a good old clitoral stimulation doing the trick. Around 80% of women in a study have claimed to the only orgasm from clitoris stimulation as opposed to 18% percent who claimed penetration does the trick. 

Sexual Drive Differs

While other studies also claim that sexual desire and drives change over the years, it can still depend on a number of factors. For starters, sexual drive differs from one person to the other. The supposed frequency of sex that many studies claim a mature couple goes through doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen to you.

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Yes, you might find that physical changes are inevitable such as vaginal dryness or problems with erections, but that doesn’t mean your drive is lost. There are many ways to keep the pleasure going and keep the intimacy alive. 

Your First Time Isn’t Always Magical 

Thanks to pop culture, they have always portrayed the first time someone loses their V card as a magical experience. While there’s no doubt that the first time you have sex is magical, that’s not always the case with every single person on earth.

Sex is different from one person to the other, and the first time can be a very painful and joyless experience, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Another misconception is that if it hurts, then it’s working. Sadly, no, if it hurts too much then something is clearly wrong and you should stop what you’re doing to avoid any damage to your genitals. Over time, sex becomes an enjoyable experience and soon enough you’ll forget about how awkward your first time was and see fireworks.

To this day, sex can remain a mystery; there are many things that no one tells you about sex growing up, and sex education could possibly use some revamping to provide anyone with the necessary knowledge. If you don’t go to the right sources, you’ll find that there’s a lot about sex that you still don’t know. Sex is beautiful, but it’s also one topic that requires anyone to become educated. 

READ:  Study shows direction of kiss affected by partners

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Same-sex wedding held in British Embassy Manila

British Ambassador Daniel Pruce officiated a same-sex wedding in the British embassy in Manila, marking not only Valentine’s Day but the 87th same-sex marriage conducted in the premises.

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Screencap from the British Embassy Manila FB page

#LoveWins

British Ambassador Daniel Pruce officiated a same-sex wedding in the British embassy in Manila, marking not only Valentine’s Day but the 87th same-sex marriage conducted in the premises.

In a Facebook post, British Embassy Manila claimed: “Love is in the air! Congratulations to Mark and Richard who were married by Ambassador Daniel Pruce on #ValentinesDay. We wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.”

It is worth noting that while same-sex marriage is not outright banned by the Philippine Constitution, the country’s Family Code limits marriage as a sacrament between one man and one woman.

However, foreign embassies are given extraterritorial privileges under the Geneva Convention. These include immunity from intrusion, damage and disturbance by the host countries.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Great Britain in 2014; and so the embassy said the UK “continues to champion the rights and equal treatment of all regardless of gender.”

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Love Guides

How social media makes breakups that much worse

Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person.

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Photo by Nick Fewings from Unsplash.com

Imagine flipping through your Facebook News Feed first thing in the morning and spotting a notification that your ex is now “in a relationship.”

Or maybe the Memories feature shows a photo from that beach vacation you took together last year. Or your ex-lover’s new lover’s mom shows up under People You May Know.

Scenarios like these are real and not uncommon, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study exploring how breaking up is even harder to do in the digital age.

“Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person,” said Anthony Pinter, a doctoral student in the information science department and lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).”It can make it almost impossible to move on if you are constantly being bombarded with reminders in different places online.”

The research team recruited participants who had experienced an upsetting encounter online involving a break-up within the past 18 months and interviewed them for over an hour.

Among 19 who underwent in-depth interviews, a disturbing trend emerged: Even when people took every measure they saw possible to remove their exes from their online lives, social media returned them – often multiple times a day.

“A lot of people make the assumption that they can just unfriend their ex or unfollow them and they are not going to have to deal with this anymore,” said Pinter. “Our work shows that this is not the case.”

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News Feed, the primary interface that opens when one launches Facebook, was a major source of distress, delivering news of ex-lovers announcing they were in a new relationship. In one case, a participant noticed his roommate had already “liked” his ex’s post. He was the last of his friends to know.

Memories, which revives posts from years’ past, was equally heart-rending, with one participant recalling how a sweet years-old message from his ex-wife popped up out of nowhere delivering an “emotional wallop.”

Many shared stories of encountering exes via their comments in shared spaces, such as groups or mutual friends’ pictures.

“In real life, you get to decide who gets the cat and who gets the couch, but online it’s a lot harder to determine who gets this picture or who gets this group,” said Pinter.

Take A Break works – for some

In 2015, Facebook launched the Take A Break feature, which detects when a user switches from “in a relationship” to “single” and asks if they want the platform to hide that person’s activities. But people like Pinter, who don’t use the Relationship Status tool, never get such an offer.

“Facebook doesn’t know we broke up because Facebook never knew we were in a relationship,” he said.

Even when someone unfriends their ex, if a mutual friend posts a picture without tagging them in it, that picture may still flow through their feed.

And even when they blocked their exes entirely some reported that the ex’s friends and family would still show up on Facebook as suggestions under People You May Know.

READ:  Study shows direction of kiss affected by partners

“Am I never going to be free of all this crap online?” asked one exasperated participant.

The research stems from a larger National Science Foundation grant award called Humanizing Algorithms, aimed at identifying and offering solutions for “algorithmic insensitivity.”

“Algorithms are really good at seeing patterns in clicks, likes and when things are posted, but there is a whole lot of nuance in how we interact with people socially that they haven’t been designed to pick up,” said Brubaker.

The authors suggest that such encounters could be minimized if platform designers paid more attention to the “social periphery” – all those people, groups, photos and events that spring up around a connection between two users.

For those wanting to rid their online lives from reminders of love lost, they recommend unfriending, untagging, using Take a Break and blocking while understanding they may not be foolproof.

Your best bet, said Pinter: “Take a break from social media for a while until you are in a better place.”

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Love Stories

A serodifferent love

HIV-positive Louie, 34, said that that when you have HIV, sometimes you think won’t find love. But he met HIV-negative Matt, 28, in 2016. And while many people still doubt their relationship, he says: “What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

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People think that when you have HIV, you won’t find love, said Louie, 34, from Biñan, Laguna. “But that’s not true. This thought never entered my mind.”

Louie was diagnosed HIV-positive on July 3, 2013.

At that time, “I felt two emotions. On one hand, I was happy. My live-in partner then had HIV, and I knew he was dying. That’s also what I thought before; that when you have HIV, you die. When I was diagnosed to have HIV, I thought I’d also already die. So we can happily die together. (But) on the other hand, I was also sad. I was thinking, what will happen to my family?”

For Louie at that time, “more than my HIV status, I had a harder time accepting that nothing is permanent. Like my live-in partner who died. I had a harder time moving forward from this.”

In 2016, Louie started feeling… lonely. “I realized how I missed being in a relationship. I missed having a relationship no matter its form – as lovers, partners in crime… so long as you love each other.”

He was working as HIV counselor for Klinika Bernardo in Quezon City then, and “we have targets on the number of people we test for HIV. To reach mine, I joined group chats.”

Matt, 28 from Tondo, Manila, was in one group – HTS.

“One time, his photo appeared in my phone (via the group chat). He was skinnier then. I said, ‘Wow, he’s cute.’ So I gave his photo a heart, and I sent him a personal message. I PM’d him, and he answered,” Louie recalled.

Louie also invited Matt to get tested for HIV.

Some people may also think Matt is putting himself in harm’s way. But “people should not think I am putting myself in a situation that I can’t handle. I am an adult/a grown up. Maybe they just envy us because we lasted long.”

FINDING LOVE

“Every Friday, we (do HIV testing in a bar) in Cubao. Our team from Klinika Bernardo go there to do HIV testing, and give out condoms. I invited him to come over,” Louie said.

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They met in a bar in Cuba, Quezon City.

“I asked him (later) if he wanted to check into a hotel so we can be together. By asking him, of course, I wanted something to happen between us. But he had an (alibi not to join me),” Louie said.

On a later date, Matt visited Louie at Klinika Bernardo.

“I told him I wanted to have sex with him. He actually refused me. It was a first time for me, so I asked him: Why not? He told me he only has sex with his BF. I think this guy’s old fashioned. I told him we’re not kids anymore, we’re not teenagers. If it works out, fine. If it doesn’t, let’s part ways,” Louie said.

Louie stressed that “of course I’m aware I have HIV. But I also know there’s no risk of infecting him because my viral load is undetectable. But I also knew how to take care of myself, and how to look after him. This is why I had the guts to ask him to have sex with me.”

Even early on, Louie said he wanted to tell Matt about his HIV status.

“But I was afraid he’d get angry, he’d fear me, he’d sue me, or he’d bash me,” he said.

That moment came after their first catching up.

“What’s important is we’re happy. What’s important is we accept each other. What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

DEALING WITH DISCLOSURE

In 2015, a radio station interviewed Louie. “I was asked to share my story. They made a ‘teledrama’ out of it. I made him listen to a recording of this,” Louie recalled.

After listening to the recording, Matt hugged Louie.

“I was surprised when he hugged me after listening to the recording. He didn’t say anything. I asked: ‘What can you say?’. It was funny; he said: ‘Nothing.’ I never felt he feared me. I forced him (to react). I told him it’s fine; I’d understand. He whispered to me; he told me ‘I love you.’ He said he loved me more.”

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For Matt: “I couldn’t care less. So what if you have HIV?”

As a side note, Matt had former partners who had HIV.

“Three BFs passed away, all from AIDS-related complications. They were diagnosed late. I knew of their HIV status after they passed away,” Matt said. “So when he told me he has HIV, I didn’t care. It’s normal for me to have a PLHIV for a partner.”

This point does not escape Louie, though.

“I had fears. Based on his stories, all his exes died. I thought: Will I be next? I said to him: ‘Maybe you’re cursed.'”

“When we just started going out, some said we won’t last. I know some of them we just joking. Some said we’d be together only for days, for weeks. We proved them wrong.”

LIVING AS A COUPLE

As a partner, Matt said Louie can be “difficult… he can get moody. At times at night, after taking his ARV, he’d complain about ailments. I really had to learn to adjust.”

But this is something he now relishes; a part of his life.

“Whenever he gets sick, his mom sends me a text message: ‘Come over, (Louie) is sick.’ And so even if I’m supposed to to go somewhere, I go to Laguna from Tondo to look after him.”

In hindsight, Louie said he knew he already loved Matt when “I miss him when he doesn’t send me text messages. If he doesn’t immediately respond to my messages, I quarrel with him. (I like that his) messages are very sweet. Almost every night, we chat over the phone. When we don’t do any of these in a day, I already miss him.”

For Matt: “It’s good to love someone with HIV because it broadens your way of loving. It broadens your adaptability skills. You will experience real love because a PLHIV will love you completely. Those without HIV can still cheat on you. But if you love someone with HIV, they won’t look for another. Like us, he won’t look for another because I give him the love he deserves.”

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Louie admitted that “a person living with HIV may not believe he will be loved by a person who does not have HIV. You may think he’s only there out of pity. That he’s only staying with you because if he leaves, you’ll get depressed and kill yourself. That was my thinking (before): I have HIV. Will someone still love me? Processing this took a while.”

Now, “if people ask me if it’s worth it, I say yes. I believe that aside from my ARV treatment, love also prolongs my life,” he added.

For Matt: “It’s good to love someone with HIV because it broadens your way of loving. It broadens your adaptability skills. You will experience real love because a PLHIV will love you completely.”

LOVE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR

People may not support what they have, but Louie said “I don’t care what people will say when they discover our relationship. Maybe they just envy us. When we just started going out, some said we won’t last. I know some of them we just joking. Some said we’d be together only for days, for weeks. We proved them wrong. We did not focus on ‘being in a relationship’. We focused on creating happy moments together.”

Some people may also think Matt is putting himself in harm’s way. But “people should not think I am putting myself in a situation that I can’t handle. I am an adult/a grown up. Maybe they just envy us because we lasted long.”

In fact, Matt said, “people asked me: Why him? You had a lot of suitors who were better looking, who doesn’t have HIV. He’s the one I love. What do you want me to do?”

To find love, Louie said: “Just be honest. If the person (you disclosed to) does not accept you, find another. If you’re honest and he does not accept you, that’s not love. In that case, love won’t materialize. But if a person accepts you even if you have HIV, he’d love you for real.”

Now, “if people ask me if it’s worth it, I say yes. I believe that aside from my ARV treatment, love also prolongs my life,” Louie said.

There’s no “looking forward” for Louie and Matt.

“We sometimes kid: What if we break up? What if (things don’t turn out well)? We discuss these affectionately. But really, we don’t think of the future; we just think of the present,” Louie said. “What’s important is we’re happy. What’s important is we accept each other. What’s important is we inspire each other… while loving and caring for each other.”

In YouTube, follow @PLHIV Diaries.

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