Words by Ben Henry | @Notagainben

...for under £20

Dating is a struggle. Let’s be honest, there’s probably no better way to summarise it. Even if you’re God’s gift to earth, it’s a minefield – Do they like me? Are they seeing other people, Am I wasting my time, DO I EVEN WANT THIS? 

But the one difficulty that I’m sure we’ve all encountered (unless you’re a trust fund baby, in which case stop reading now) is money. It’s all well and good talking the talk, thinking you’re going to take them here and seduce them there. But for us normal folk, sometimes money is an issue – I’m talking as a student, believe me I’m broke seven days a week! What that basically means is it’s time to get creative. Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you should be single, right? So ditch those plans of whisking them away, drop the big talk and above all, keep it simple. The best dates are those with thought…

The home care package

Let’s start simple. Best way to a person's heart? Pizza. Invite them over, order 12 inches and set up Netflix. Casually find out their favourite sweets or chocolates and get those in. Really want to set that ship a sail, Casanova? Get some candles. All in all, the most expensive thing on the list should be your Netflix membership. Just don’t order from Dominos, or that’s the budget blown already. 

The ‘walk along the beach to romantic music’ movie

We’ve all seen it in a movie and it’s pretty cute when Whitney’s crooning in the background. But really, as long as you live within relative distance to the coast, what’s stopping you from getting all Pamela in the sand? Cold and grey? Grab a coat and use the leftover money from the budget and stretch to a cone of chips. To share. We’re running a tight ship here. 

Drive-in cinema

OK so I’m not really one for a cinema date. What’s the point of sitting in silence if you’re meant to be getting to know each other? But for those that live near bigger cities, drive-in cinemas are becoming something of a trend and I won’t lie, they’re pretty cool! What’s better, you’re in your own car so you can talk as much as you please. Just don’t go all Danny Zuko, or you’ll be driving in and they'll be walking out. 

The fair’s in town!

If you’re trying to score a date, there’s something different you can do. So the fair really is a bit hit and miss considering they’re never in one place for all that long (unless you have the PLEASURE of living in Blackpool. See what I did there?). But if you’re in luck, there could be a fun fair swinging by your town in the near future, and what’s cuter than strolling around the lights, scoffing candy floss and jumping into his lap on the ghost train. My tip? If they win you a goldfish, he’s a keeper. 

The romantic stroll

A replacement for the beach stroll if you live nowhere near the coast. No matter where you live, there’s some kind of park. Invite them for a walk, grab an ice cream and stroll among the bunnies. If it’s really nice and you feel like showing them your cheesy side, pack a blanket and ham sandwiches and you’ve got yourself a picnic. 


Now this really isn’t for the faint hearted/sober. If you’re feeling brave over there Mariah, karaoke is a good move. Even if you’re not quite an Adele, if you can both get over yourselves enough to not be embarrassed, you’ll find you could actually have a laugh! And even if neither of you get up on stage and pretend you’re performing at The Grammys (just me?), it’s pretty entertaining to sit back with a glass of wine and giggle.


Dating can be fun but for most of us a first date can lead to a first kiss and a first kiss can lead to a whole lot more. So how do you bring up the topic of HIV and safer sex without killing the mood? 

“What’s your status?” 

Is it rude to ask someone what their HIV status is? No, absolutely not but it can throw some people off. So how do you talk about HIV without putting someone off? Here’s how:

Tell them your status. If you bring the topic up of your own HIV status it takes away the spotlight from them. You are telling them that you are confident and knowledgeble about safer sex. This will make it easier for them to tell you whether they're HIV-positive or negative. 

They say they're HIV-positive. Can I still have sex with them?

YES!! Of course you can. This isn’t the 80s anymore. People who are HIV-positive and are on medication become ‘undetectable’ – this means the amount of HIV in their system is so low it can’t be found with a test. People living with HIV and who are undetectable cannot pass on the virus through sex.

We’re both HIV-positive, do we need condoms?

Even if you are both HIV-positive there is still a risk of picking up other STIs and hepatitis C. The rate of hep C amongst HIV-positive people is on the rise. Hep C is a difficult virus to get rid of. You can also pick up a different strain of HIV which can interfere with your medication.  

Disclosing you are HIV-positive

Disclosing your status can be a difficult thing to do. If you want to let people know you are living with HIV, the best thing to do is to casually bring it up. Be ready for some questions that might make you feel awkward but as long as they are willing to learn that’s all you can ask for. 

If you don’t want to talk about HIV:

If you are not on PrEP, then it’s best to use condoms and plenty of lube when having sex with every new partner. If you’re negative then test for HIV and other STIs on a regular basis. PrEP does not prevent other STIs. It’s recommended you test at least once a year but if you partake in risky sex then you should test on a much more regular basis. It takes HIV roughly four weeks to show up in a test. 

If you’re positive, undetectable and on medication the risk of passing on HIV is zero, but you may pick up other infections if you have unprotected sex.    

For more information on sex, sexual health and STIs, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/sex