My lover and I have an open relationship but recently I learned to my GREAT distress that he has been bare-backing -- and he's a bottom. He doesn't seem to be possessed of the self-hatred that you've mentioned, but when it's so easy to have your sex partner slip on a condom ... I just can't understand his behavior. What can I do about this? Anon.
Frankly, I can't understand his behavior either. [For the record, bare-backing is engaging in anal sex without using a condom.] I know some tops complain that they don't like to wear condoms, that it interferes with the sensations that they feel [although in that case I would recommend experimenting with different types of condoms, and there are plenty] but it shouldn't make that much difference to a bottom (and again bottoms can also experiment with different types of condoms). Let me make it clear that unprotected anal sex is the absolutely riskiest behavior for gay men. While it is much, much riskier for bottoms, there have been documented cases of tops getting HIV because they didn't use a condom as well.
As for your lover's behavior, there are several explanations [besides the fact that he's being very stupid]. If he's very young, he may feel he's invincible and that bad things only happen to other people -- even though, to everyone else, he is "other people." It's possible his "extra-marital" relationships occur when he's under the influence of something, and he's careless. People who are sexually active should carry condoms at all times and be prepared for every circumstance. If your sex partner says he doesn't have a condom, pull one out of your pocket -- pronto. If he doesn't want to use it, say good-night -- no matter how hot he is. Some sexual experiences just aren't worth the danger.
HIV may not be the death sentence that it once was, but people should by no means take it casually. AIDS is still a serious medical condition that can impact a person's entire life. Simply being HIV positive, while nothing to despair over necessarily, can have a serious effect on a person's general health and social status. Too many people, of all races, genders and orientations, mistakenly believe that HIV/AIDS is "no big deal." You have to make sure that your lover is made aware of this by showing him this and other posts on the subject, nagging him until it finally sinks in. Not only is he risking his own health, but yours as well.
You and your partner need to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Again, being HIV positive, even having AIDS, is not the end of the world, as there are treatments that can help patients lead a more or less normal life [although it must be said that not everyone responds to treatment, which is another reason to swear off bare-backing]. But the fact that AIDS may be more treatable than it once was, does not mean that it's nothing to worry about. And other STDs are on the rise.
As for self-hatred, I've no doubt that some people who indulge in risky behavior have serious emotional issues, but in your lover's case it may simply be carefree, foolish recklessness on his part. If drugs or alcohol are influencing his behavior, then those issues must be addressed as well. [Don't get so drunk or fucked up that you can't wear a condom or remember to insist that your sex partner put one on.]
I'm in favor of open relationships. But for them to work, both partners have to be responsible. Which means safe sex at all times -- no exceptions!
Nag your lover about this until it sinks in.