I met my partner, Johnny, back in 2013. We started our relationship off by speaking on the phone for hours on end. When we decided to meet in person for the first time, I knew I had to have “the conversation” with him.

Here are 29 thoughts that went through my head when telling my partner about my HIV status.

1. He seems nice over the phone. I wonder what he truly thinks of me.

2. He must like me. I mean, who spends over six hours talking on the phone with someone without getting bored?

3. Has he ever been with someone who lives with HIV?

4. Does he even know what HIV is?

5. When would be a good time to tell him?

6. If I do tell him, will he still want to move forward with a relationship, or will I end up in the “friend zone”?

7. Can I trust him with this information?

8. Who will he tell?

9. What am I going to wear when I tell him?

10. Maybe we should just have dinner first and see how that goes.

11. He’s cute, but is he the one to share this type of news with?

12. My throat is extremely dry.

13. I can’t tell him… he’s going to reject me like so many others.

14. Can I handle another rejection from someone I feel has great potential?

15. My heart is literally beating a mile a minute.

16. Okay, I’ll wait until after we’ve eaten so I won’t have to say this now, and he won’t have to hear this on an empty stomach.

17. Okay, here goes nothing.

18. I need a drink. A little liquid courage can’t hurt, right?

19. Should I say I’m HIV positive, or just “I have HIV”? No, maybe I’ll ask if he even knows what HIV is.

20. “I need to tell you something. I’m not sure how you’ll react, but I like you and there’s something I feel you need to know. I am HIV positive.”

21. The silence is deafening. What is he thinking?

22. Oh no. The look on his face says he’s going to be nice, but I’ll never hear from him again.

23. He seems intelligent. He’s not running. I thought he was about to bolt.

24. He wants to know more. I mean, he actually cares to know how I’m feeling!

25. This may not be so bad after all.

26. Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable and not thinking of me as someone not worthy of love.

27. This could be the one guy for me… but hey, it’s still too soon to tell.

28. Oh, wow. He actually asked to make plans to see each other again!

29. Wait… did my heart just skip a beat?

Read this article in Spanish.

David L. Massey and Johnny T. Lester are partners, content creators, relationship influencers, businessmen, and passionate HIV/AIDS advocates and allies for youth. They’re contributors for POZ Magazine and Real Health Magazine, and own a boutique branding/imaging firm, HiClass Management, LLC, which provides services to select high-profile clientele. Recently, the duo launched a luxury loose leaf tea venture called Hiclass Blends, of which a portion of the proceeds goes to youth education on HIV/AIDS.