How to break up like a grownup instead of a jerk

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Q: I am newly diagnosed with HIV, and I’m learning to navigate life with drugs, doctors, random farts, and oh yeah, that pesky crippling stigma.

Obviously, I was never into having “the conversation” before sex, or I wouldn’t have ended up in this predicament. Now that I basically have to have the conversation, I don’t want to kill the mood. Like, “Hey listen I might kill you or whatever. Let’s fuck.”

How do I say it without ruining my chance of getting laid or increasing the chance of them hating me?

Dear Self Sabotage:

On the one hand, it’s good that your diagnosis doesn’t stop you from pursuing your life. Part of that process does include harsh realizations, but not the ones you seem to think.

Stigma does exist, but it’s your choice to internalize their shame or reject it. More pressing for you, it’s time to get real about some misconceptions:

Lots of people talk about about HIV before sex, not because they “basically have to,” but because they should. Also, you didn’t “obviously” have a problem with the conversation, because some folks discuss it and still contract the virus under various other circumstances.

Finally, we could go on all day about HIV’s legal and moral issues, arguments and implications, but long story short, you’re not going to kill him. These poor perceptions are part of the stigma you dislike so much, so stop buying into it.

Couch HIV status conversations in all the fun safe or safer sex activities you want to try. It’s just like any difficult talk: Do it with authenticity and sensitivity, and let the other guy decide for himself.

You say he might hate you, but if he does the lay wasn’t going to be worth it. If he is down to get down, you can do so with clear heads. Either way, the truth sets you free.


My boyfriend’s breath smells like he eats out every member of an entire gay sports team. How do I broach the topic of his stank breath?

Dear Booty Breath:

You certainly phrased it creatively, but the conundrum is real. No one wants to tell the offensive party, but everyone wants someone to tell them soon. You owe your partner the truth.

Communication is almost always better than letting a situation fester, in this case literally. Try the good old compliment sandwich: Deliver the meaty news between slices of praise.

“The whole team loves getting our asses eaten, and it would be even better if you gargled between takes. We’ll each happily wait in line for the amazing service.”


It’s time to break up with my significant other, but he’s so stuck on me that I’ve been “phasing him out” instead of making a clean break. I feel bad because he’s super sweet. What should I do?

Dear Sadsack:

Hard conversations are hard. Welcome to adulthood. Stop feeling bad for the breakup and start feeling bad for stringing the guy along.

Illustration by Brad Gibson

Q Advice for entertainment not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to

This column also appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue here:

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