If I Have Herpes, How Can I Tell The New Guy I’m Dating?

If I Have Herpes, How Can I Tell the New Guy I'm Dating?

Hi Evan -

Really enjoy your blog. I found out a few months ago that I have herpes. After going through the normal flip out and that my dating life would now consist of Ben and Jerry’s and DVD’s every Saturday night, I’m ready to get out there again.

I have gone through "the conversation" a million times in my mind. I have seen men post on various dating sites where they come right out on their profile stating they have herpes. And before I found out about my little gem, I would immediately think, "not in my backyard". I think that is a TMI on a profile. I thought that if I meet someone, and there seems to be some sort of vibe, I would have the talk pretty quickly, possibly even the first date. And I wouldn’t be dramatic, just simply say, you need to know something, I have herpes. I control it with medication, but no matter how you slice it, it is what it is.

There are "herpes sites" but they kind of creep me out at this point.

I have enough common sense that I wouldn’t casually mention this as we are flinging clothing all over the room.

What are your thoughts? Is there a "right time or wrong time" to have this discussion?

If ok, want to jump on my soapbox for a second, if anyone reading this has herpes, do the right thing, let people know. One of the most difficult things I had to do was call former boyfriends I may have exposed (think it was dormant in my system for quite sometime, I honestly did not know). None of these guys started screaming at me, they THANKED me and said they would get tested – none of them had it -YAY!!!!

This is forever, don’t make it forever for someone else – have "the talk".

Thanks Evan, happy new year!

Jen

Important question, Jen. And while I’m not an expert in herpes, per se, I do know a number of people who have it, and continue to lead rich, happy, limitless dating lives. So don’t worry. It’s all gonna be okay.

I do know a number of people who have it, and continue to lead rich, happy, limitless dating lives. 

I think all the readers should take a second to put themselves in your shoes for a moment. Because one second you’re saying “No way” to a guy with herpes, and the next, you’re praying that a guy doesn’t judge you for this one minor thing.

And let me be clear, it IS a minor thing.

According to Herpes.com, 50-80 percent of the American adult population has oral herpes. Ever had a cold sore? Congratulations. You probably have oral herpes. As far as genital herpes goes, we’re talking 20% of the population. That’s 50 MILLION people, a majority of whom don’t even know they’re infected. The scariest part of this whole thing is the staggering ignorance about herpes – a disease that undoubtedly affects someone that you know.

Don’t think so? Well, let’s just say that I have close friends, clients, and ex-girlfriends who have genital herpes, and none of them are traumatized, hospitalized or ostracized because of it. So let’s get past that.

Just know that if you have the disease, you may be entirely asymptomatic, which would mean that you could potentially transmit it without knowing. And if you do have symptoms, they are easily controlled with the use of drugs. The question is how do you explain this to someone else who is freaked out by this kind of stuff?…

I think the best answer is to treat your condition matter-of-factly. The bigger deal you make out of it, the bigger deal it becomes. This should be like talking about how your father died, or how you had anorexia in high school, or how you didn’t lose your virginity until you were 25. All of those things might be sensitive and relevant, but they don’t have to be dealbreaker-type issues if dealt with effectively.

I wouldn’t put it in a profile, I wouldn’t say it on a first date, and I wouldn’t say it when slipping on a condom. I’d wait until you were ready to have genital contact and initiate the conversation prior. Perhaps even a few days prior. Do it in person so your partner can look you in the eyes and ask any questions. And make sure you have your facts ready in case he’s curious. You want to make it clear: this is a fact about you, and it’s something you have under total control. He need not worry.

You can literally have this conversation after dinner or a movie while walking, so as not to make the situation feel too pressurized. And while it’s not quite “Please pass the salt”, you can probably cover what you need to cover in just a few minutes, as opposed to a two-hour herpes summit.

Major bulletpoints:

You trust him and feel he needs the truth if the relationship is to progress.

You have herpes. It’s a fact that he needs to know about you.

You have a handle on the disease and outbreaks are rare.

He will not catch it since you take drugs and carefully monitor the situation.

He can ask you questions, research it, digest it, but understand that it’s not a big deal. 1/6 of the country has it and most don’t even know.

Again, I’m no expert, but I coached one client through this tricky process. She said the conversation with her new guy took less than five minutes and didn’t blow her chances with him at all.

And finally, if there are herpes dating sites for people who aren’t afraid of your condition, maybe you should at least take a peek, okay?

Take care and good luck.

Evan

 

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Comments:

  1. 151
    Sayanta

    #139 purpleI

    Um… Maybe not quite how I would have put it, but 75% of what you say is how a lot of people, including myself, feel. I mean, getting shot down on a blog because you don’t want to subject yourself to a horrible infection? Reallly??? What planet are some people on? 

  2. 152
    anonaone

    Sayanta,  I get what you’re saying and that is your right.  I hope you don’t find your perfect partner has an STD because that will be very hard to you, and your partner.  And I just hope that people who know my “truth” look beyond it because HSV1 is not the most defining component of my character.  By far.  I contracted it almost 18 years ago after graduating from college.  I was in a committed relationship and even “saving myself” for marriage – ha!  Back then I didn’t consider oral sex to be sex, and I also had no clue you could get it that way.  But, I did. I had never had intercourse.  After that man, who I’m still friends with, I met my husband, who accepted me for that, and all of my other flaws! I was married for 14 years and my ex never showed symptoms.  Dated another guy for a while and neither did he (unprotected sex).  I have two healthy children, and I did need c-sections but it wasn’t because of that. It was simply because my body wouldn’t cooperate to get the babies out.  I’m dating someone new now and we’ve discussed sex, and I will need to tell him soon.  He’s pretty special and thinks I am, too, so I hope he will feel like my other sexual partners did and be accepting of it.  Simply put, when I found out about it, I was devastated and thought it would ruin my life.  I became anorexic.  I drove recklessly without my seatbelt and really did want to die. I was in therapy for six months.  But, what do you know, it has not ruined my life.  It’s just an annoyance and is no different than the cold sores my sister gets on her face–in fact, she’d rather have my problem, she tells me because at least I can “hide it” and not everyone sees it when it happens (and it very very rarely does). What makes me roll my eyes is people who have cold sores and think they do not have an STD.  You DO have an STD, especially if you ever plan on giving anyone oral sex!  You need to disclose it just as much as WE do.

  3. 153
    Julia W.

    I’m so glad i found this website discussion, there have been alot of helpful posts and alot that have just cracked me up. I am 18 and I was diagnosed with gh eight days ago, I thought it was really bad razor burn but was unfortunately informed otherwise :/ when I first found out I was extremely upset, especially since I had only been with one guy. After a few days though and alot of research I knew gh was not a big deal and I certainly wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. I already lived a very healthy life style so gh hasn’t changed one thing about my everyday life, the only difference is i’m on valtrex to clear up the first ob. In a relationship i would wait until after a few dates but most definitely before sex.  I hope anyone who has h will realize it’s not the end of the world and that they can live perfectly normal, happy lives. what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger :)

  4. 154
    Julia W.

    I’m also currently in a very close relationship with another guy (I had broken up with the other guy, way before i even new i had gotten gh frm him) and he is fully aware of my gh, I thank God we hadn’t done anything that could have transmitted it to him when i was still unaware. Fact is he knows and doesn’t care, I feel very blessed to have him, and he even told me that the gh means nothing to him, that i’m worth the risk, and he loves me for me, flaws and all! I know that might be hard to believe for those ignorant few, but it is possible for someone with gh and someone without gh to be extremely happy together.

  5. 155
    Holding Breath

    When I first met my wife she passed along the ‘gift’ to me. I had no idea what was going on, i had never seen anything like this especially on my penis! She claimed ignorance until I finally figured it out myself and confronted her sometime later. By this time we were discussing marriage and I felt trapped like i would never be able to be with anyone else. So i went through with the marriage and have been married for 15 years, but I still harbor a very intense hatred towards her because of that. Add in a few other issues and our marriage is all but over.
    Bring in a new friend. I promised myself I would tell her and the thought of doing so was agonizing. But I did do it. I was looking for a way to tell her and we were having a heart to heart about something that had happened to her and I used this heart to heart time as my lead on. She seemed to understand and did not turn me away.
    Fast forward to this weekend. We had sex for the first time. I have been taking Valtrex leading up to it and also used a latex condom. Now I am holding my breath and hoping that she will not receive the ‘gift’.
    I have not had an outbreak in years, used condom, used valtrex. now i wait.
    I think you have to tell no matter what.
     

    1. 155.1
      tamara

      @Holding Breath: Yikes, u have had  a ‘very intense hatred’ towards your wife, for the past 15 years? If she knew and didn’t disclose her status, that was v wrong, but then perhaps it was foolish to marry her. There would’ve been other women who would’ve loved you….But after choosing to marry her, surely u could’ve tried to forgive her? It just seems like such a disfunctional rship from the very beginning. :( And now you’re having an affair. Isn’t it time to get out of the marriage? 
      I really hope the new lady doesn’t get it though. It’s good that you’re using a condom because with most STDs, there’s a much higher chance of male-to-female transmission than the other way around.
       

  6. 156
    meka

    I have a hard time finding someone as it is an Herpes makes it harder. Everyone tells me im really pretty accually even people off the street, I dont beleive it. My family has treated me like a walking std since i was 16. I don’t really know how to deal with it wont’t even tell my doctors 90 percent of the time I think i’m going to be alone forever someone help me.
     

  7. 157
    Mich

    Just told my boyfriend a few hours ago that I’ve been diagnosed with “H”.  He says he needs time to “take it all in” and he’ll talk to me tomorrow.  I have no idea if I’ve done the right thing in being honest.

  8. 158
    LL

    For some people herpes is a big deal, for some it isn’t.  I have it.  I was not told by a guy I was dating and he gave it to me.  He just said he got “hives” sometimes when I asked him about it(after I got my first outbreak & and was trying to figure out what was going on).  I had to do some research and realized I had HSVII.  It was a big deal to me. Then I went a long time without outbreaks and it was no big deal.  Then I started having lots of outbreaks again, probably due to stress, and it is a big deal again. The outbreaks are the hardest part, as it is uncomfortable and puts you out of sex and affects you emotionally.  You need a very supportive person as a partner to get through it.  I have been dating someone I told upfront before we had sex and he said he was fine with it.  As time has gone by, I realize he is not so fine with it. He avoids sex because he says it is “risky” with me.  It is too bad, because otherwise our relationship is great. The lack of sex results in a lack of overall intimacy in the relationship.   I am very mad still that the guy I was dating didn’t tell me before we had sex.  We had sex for two months (with condoms) before I contracted herpes.  I got it in my genital area but not inside.  I probably would not have proceeded in that relationship if he had told me up front.  Just being honest.  I was surprised how open the next guy was to my condition, but he isn’t as ok with it as he claimed to be.  Bottom line, you really should tell someone, no matter what.  Not only is it wrong, but it is an issue of honesty and trust as well.  I didn’t like that I wasn’t told — why would I do that to someone else?  I am hopeful someday I will meet a good guy that is ok with this, whether or not he is HSV positive.  Good luck to you all and God Bless.

  9. 159
    Woman who loves Dobes

    “Ed Farnsworth 25

    Speaking as a man who has never had a cold sore. The reason 1/6 of the population has herpes is because of the attitude of some of the carriers on this site. I always ask potential partners before any sexual contact if they have ever had an std. If they answer affirmatively… fine, I’m gone and they have my sympathy. But I was lied to once by a woman who thought that putting me at risk for this incurable disease was “no big deal.” What scum! A warning to the healthy. Women who have herpes will lie to you when you ask them if they have it.”

    Ed, you have never even had a cold sore, even as a child, come on. Try to get out of that one. Your opinion makes me sick.
    I can understand you being upset that you were lied to. I wonder about you. Instead of asking women if they have a STD, ask them for proof from their doctor. You would have to over proof to.
    Not every women will lie if they have herpes. I agree some will. I imagine alot of men lie also. So Mr. High and Mighty, come down off your soapbox. Deal with this, 80% of people have some sort of STD. You are lucky you do not have it. But are you sure?
    Have you had the blood test, sometimes there is not even a symptom.
    I didn’t have a symptom, my GYN said I was perfect upon examination. It wasn’t until the blood work results came back, that I did have genital herpes. I got it from a guy, not out of the sky. The herpes goes back 15 years.
    I am a carrier, I do not have outbreaks. I use the virus med if I get active. I got it after being married 25 years, I was thrown into the dating world.  I had been secure in my marriage, we had safe sex with each other. We didn’t need protection. We were both clean and free.
    After our divorce, I learned about safe sex the hard way. Some guy gave it to me. I do not know if he knew or not. I hate having it because I am honest and do 2 things. I tell any guy that I may become intimate with, and take the virus pill. Also, I use a female condom for his protection. It completely covers him and covers me very well.
    You can have oral sex if the women uses a dental dam to cover herself.  If some guy wants oral, he would have to have a flavored condom.         I could get oral herpes without it.
    The chance of a guy catching the virus is low, 1-2 percent. They should wash off afterwards.
    I have had guys that know, insist on not using a condom. They have not gotten it either. But I will not let that happen again unless I know he is not a carrier of something.
    Everyone is in charge of keeping themselves and others safe.
    The one’s that try to make people who have this disease low down, I’d watch it, because sometimes things happen, and you darn well may get it also.
    I have never not told a guy. I have had 2 bad reactions and the rest positive. It’s not funny, but funny at the same time. I had met a guy and he were kissing. I decided, I had to tell him before we went farther in the future. He freaked. He said he had to leave. The reason, was he was in fear that he may not have used safe sex before. He must not have been wearing condoms. He said, he would have to get tested right away. Then he took off in his truck. At the time, I could not believe the reaction. But once I got control, I realized it wasn’t me, it was him freaking out about his own sex life. Crap, he should have thanked me.
    Another guy, I think had germ phobia’s. He didn’t libe my Dobe to lick him and if my cat came near him, he put up his hands just like he did with my Dobe. Of course, I told him, and he just could not perform.
    What made me upset is he aroused himself, then said is it ok if we do not do it. Hell no, so we went to bed. I should have told him to leave right then. We did have a talk but forget about it. You don’t please yourself and treat the other person like a germ. There wasn’t even I won’t see you again, it didn’t need to be said.

  10. 160
    Choo

    I have been so incensed by reading these posts, not just here but on other forums, that I just wanted to get my twopence in. I have had herpes for about 8 years, I got it from a guy I had a one night stand with – of course he forgot to mention that he had it. I knew something was wrong, but for a long time I did not identify it as herpes, the outbreaks were so irregular it took me a good few months to guess what it was. I was single at the time so I posed no risk to anyone. From that point forward it affected the way I felt about myself and has changed my behaviour. I have been honest with partners and do not suffer from regular outbreaks now, unfortunately when they strike the symptoms can cause a real crisis of confidence. 

    Being so dismissive of herpes is really wrong and as many have stated on this forum, it is a very common disease with around 1 in 5 people having it.

    The thing that I have found most interesting is that herpes gets easier, the longer time that you have it. And touch wood I have not had an outbreak for over 6 months, the sore is usually so small no bigger than 3/4mm in size and disappears within days, now I just accept it and refrain from sex during that period.

    The best thing is you can also improve the occurrence of outbreaks, by treating yourself well. I know if I am rundown, it is probably the time when I am most vulnerable to an outbreak. Best thing to do is – DE-STRESS, cut out sugar, too much bread, eat a healthy and balanced diet, rest and get some exercise. If you do these small things, you can get quick relief from herpes, if you take these things more seriously and incorporate this into a healthy lifestyle, you may well cut out occurrences altogether, forget living on drugs, and listening to negative crap, you have total control over the symptoms.

    Recently I met a guy, and after telling him I had herpes (before I had slept with him), he asked me to pray with him so I could ask for forgiveness, now please, I am not a religious person I could have swung for the guy for suggesting that I was destined for hell because of my lifetime friend. It is a real challenge and very upsetting to know that you have to tell someone you have herpes, and in fact I have walked from many situations where I may have had a relationship after considering a) would I like to be in a long term relationship with this person, b) how would they react in response to me telling them, and how would they treat me?

    It is shit, I do know however the man who loves you and you love also, does stand by you in this. If he does not – then you probably should not be with him in the first place.

  11. 161
    Candy

    I hope everyone knows how helpful this website is.  I just got tested two days ago and am waiting for the result.  I thought i had an infected pimple, but my doctor said it looked like herpes and wanted to test me.  Now I am waiting the results.  People, if you ever wonder whether a judgmental person could get a hit on the head (or in the vagina) with karma, that is me.  I frowned down at folks with STDs, etc., and now look at me.  My story is as innocent as everyone else’s – I had contact with a person, didn’t protect myself, and now I am facing a whole new world.  I won’t get my results for another 5 days.  How did everyone else wait through this period? Anyway, no matter my results, let me make a public apology to everyone I judge over the past years.  I was so wrong.  My goodness.  I failed to live by the Golden Rule and now am hoping that the rest of the world is not as judgmental as me.  My goodness.  Karma is a bitch.  Thank you so much for sharing your stories.  You have helped me when I didn’t even deserve it.

  12. 162
    Cole

    Thank you for posting this.. I recently got a call from an ex of mine who had admitted he cheated on me during our relationship and contracted herpes.. I immediately went to get tested and sure enough the test came back positive.. I was devastated and lost! I was having a hard time coping thinking no guy would ever want to be with me anymore and I wouldn’t be able to have sex or any kind of relationship again .. I was distraught! Well recently I met this giy and hung out with him a few times and we really hit it off.. I was so afraid to tell him but I Knew I had to.. I finally had the talk with him and he was very compassionate about the whole issue.. He explained it is going to be difficult but he was not going anywhere.. We got together and researched about herpes and how we can be intimate together without me passing it on to him… I was relieved to find out he wasn’t turned off by the virus and was willing to educated himself on the topic more without just running away from me.. The more I read up on herpes the more I realize it is not as big of an issue as people make it out to be..yes it can be annoying but it doesn’t have to take anything away from your love and sex life as long as your educated on the topic.

  13. 163
    deb

    Having Herpes is the least of my problems. Women who get HPV (genital warts) in their early years is another thing. You get them taken care of by your OB/GYN doctor and then find out 30 years after having this that you more or less will develop dysplasia of the vulva and have to have a vulvectomy like I did and it has a high rate of reoccuring. I was misdiagnosed for two years with lichen sclerosis of the vulva. Thank goodness for a dermatologist I had check me out and got me in to see a great Oncologist to help me.

  14. 164
    Kathleen

    Deb Im so sorry. The cancer risk of HPV is significant

  15. 165
    filipino girl

    According to Boskey (Living With Herpes): The first thing you need to do after you’ve received a genital herpes diagnosis is sit down and take a breath. Do some research and learn all you can about the disease. You were probably diagnosed because you experienced an outbreak. Although it may have been scary and painful, don’t panic. Since you have had one outbreak, you will probably have several more over the next year. Over time, however, your outbreaks will become less frequent. There is medication that you can take to help relieve your symptoms, reduce the frequency of outbreaks, lower the amount of virus in your system, and make it less likely that you will transmit the virus to someone else.

  16. 166
    Jen

    I just found this thread and wanted to contribute my own story to help Jen. I’ve had herpes for many years. Since I was first married at 22, and I am now 58. My ex husband unknowingly gave it to me when we got married (he told me he used to “get this stuff” and then I started “getting this stuff” too). That was in the mid-70s and we didn’t even know what it was. I never blamed him for giving it to me.

    I always got mild, infrequent outbreaks, and so I didn’t think much about it until I divorced and got into the dating pool again. I have been dating about 5 years now, and been on medication during that time. While initially I dreaded “having the talk,” these days I don’t sweat it. I reveal that I have it early if it looks like we will eventually want to be intimate. I have found there are 3 reactions: total outrage, nonchalance, or sheer joy because he has it as well. While the outraged reaction is always upsetting… I actually had one man storm out of a restaurant, it has only happened a few times. Many men say it is no big deal. But I would say the most frequent response is the last one. A lot of people have herpes. I am in agreement with Evan, that all will be fine, and when you find the Right One, it will not be an issue.

  17. 167
    Aymea

    This is such an old post. I wanted to chime in with my experience as someone who has it. I don’t know what I would have said had anyone ever given me the opportunity to make an informed decision.
    There is a great deal of misinformation in the general public and most people are just flat out ignorant about it. I had to laugh at the sex negative people in this thread who would forego the possibility of a loving and wonderful relationship because of the potential for something that is actually not that bad. Sorry..it’s not a big deal and I actually have frequent (super mild) symptoms and the first outbreak was god awful. Did you know that one of the charming symptoms of the first outbreak of HSVII is that it can block your ability to pee for a short while? Yeah I found that out, luckily it didn’t require hospitalization but um hmm that was new. And I still don’t think this is *that* big a deal.
    I’d prefer not to have it of course. But this is not the worst thing that will happen in my life, by far and I’m blessed and grateful for everything I do have. In the larger scheme of things there are bigger problems than this. Viruses are all over, this one just happens to manifest in a place people are already scared of. 
    I disclose to partners and have recently met someone who could be the love of my life. Talking about it was just something that made us closer and made me more determined to be the kind of person who deserved his trust and acceptance. In that way you could say it’s made me a better person. 

  18. 168
    AustralianLady

    I have Herpes.
    The first outbreak occurred around 3yrs ago. 
    I do not know who gave it to me – I suspect it was my ex-fiance, because he had a coldsore and told me – after he kissed me – that he had it and had just given it to me. 
    I didn’t take him too seriously because I had already been infected with Shingles 20+yrs ago – unknown, don’t know how.
    I have never told anyone that I have herpes.
    I have been asymptomatic MOST of the 10yrs I suspect I have had it (since I squarely think my ex-fiance was the one who infected me).
    The information available about Herpes is so conflicting about potential for transmission that I was always lead to believe that so long as I used a condom (insisting the guy did so) then all would be well in the world.
    Now I learn that it is possible to infect someone through contact even when I am asymptomatic.
    I fully agree with Zann.
    And Ron, you are a headbutt waiting to happen. Your attitude is disgusting, belligerent, pig-headed, obnoxious, self-serving, and egoistic.
    I have met someone just recently that I am deeply attracted to, and I have not yet told him – though I have every intentions of telling him well before it becomes potentially intimate.
    It may be a deal-breaker and that freaks me out.
    But becoming infected with the disease and not telling anyone at the time of sex is not criminal… the information about the contagious nature of the disease is not “common knowledge”, it is only just now becoming evident – depending on what you read and where you get your information from – that the disease is indeed contagious at any time.
    If you believe it, of course.

  19. 169
    Sammi

    I recently discovered earlier this year I have GH. I was really upset and shocked at first for two reasons. One I had never had symptoms or outbreaks in my life and two got STD tests done regularly and have always been negative before hand.
    I have read a lot about Genital Herpes to discover what I was in for and doing research has made me learn to accept it more. It really is just a irritating skin condition with a bad stigma. I am more afraid of the stigma then the actual virus actually!
    Not good news to get when you want to get back into the dating scene again. I have not dated since getting the news because I have to accept having it more. Dreading the day I am going to have to disclose to future potential partner but it has got to be done. Would not feel right not doing it.
    By the way I am female and I would never lie about having it. A male from the past done the exact same thing to me. It goes both ways male or female, with those cowards who don’t say anything. sadly enough. Geez.
    There is a name for Genital Herpes with no symptoms or outbreaks. It is called Asymptomatic Herpes.
    Amazed by all the ignorance I am reading on here. I bet some of them same ignorant people could be affected and not even know it! Roll eyes.
    They do not test for Oral Herpes and Genital Herpes in standard STD Tests I have recently learnt, because of this I have no idea how long I have had it or who I got it from. No one disclosed to me they had it. :(.
    I asked the Doctor if I was tested for it before on my last test and he said no. You would think that was one of the main things that would be tested for. I was so surprised, angry as well after learning that they do not test for it. You have to ask to be tested for it specifically. I got taken literally when I said I wanted to be tested for everything. Hence why Herpes got added into my last STD test the beginning of this year and I got a different result.
    I had dated and slept with my current ex in between that time. I was so sure I got it from him because I had gotten negative STD tests for years before him but hearing Herpes was not tested before him blew that theory out of the water. I did tell him to get tested and he turned out to be negative thank god. As far as I know I have not infected anyone else from the past either.
    You could go on for years not knowing you had it because if this. If this last Doctor had not added Herpes onto my last STD test I would have never of known I had it! That is how little affect Genital Herpes have had on my life. Besides getting a bit emotional at times when it is on my mind because of the stigma.
    All my main concern with having it is having the talk to potential future partners. Dating is hard enough without having this, let alone having this. Sigh. Just gotta find the right way to do it I guess when the time is right, when it comes.

  20. 170
    Goldy

    I just want to say that I have told numerous potential sex partners of my herpes. Every man I have had sex with since my diagnosis in 1985 was told, clearly and at a time that would allow them to think it over. The responses have ranged from “that must have been so hard for you to tell me” to “can I have your dessert?” to “ugh, I don’t think I can get passed that.” Two men I told rejected me. They weren’t jerks. They were kind and loving men who made thoughtful decisions about this circumstance. It was horrible to see the change in their expression in their faces. 
    After being rejected now a third time, by a good man, one that I had a strong connection to and who I saw a great deal of relationship potential: I may never tell anyone again. Yes, that’s right. I have not had an outbreak in seven years. When I am in a relationship I am on repressive therapy (a pill), and I have never given it to anyone. I am well aware when an outbreak occurs so I do not put my partner at risk and refrain from sex. I figure if a man has 24% chance of getting herpes from the general population and less than 1% from me – so why should I tell? I doubt they are asking anyone else if they have herpes – I think I am careful and I deserve some happiness. What could happen? My biggest fear would be the stress I would feel from keeping such a secret from a man who I love.
    Also, I have met others with herpes in support groups and dating sites – they don’t disclose either. They prefer to stay within the herpes community but when they venture out – they don’t tell. After all, we’er all adults and know the risks we take when we have sex with anyone. 
    If one more person tells me “you have your integrity” well, great but I also don’t have a man. The truth is, if the man who gave me herpes HAD told me, I would have put on my Nikes and hit the ground running as far away from him as possible.I hate herpes. It has destroyed several chances for me – sometimes because I break it off because I fear rejection and sometimes from rejection.
    There is not a good side for herpes. It won’t stop me from living a good life, but herpes changes everything and not for the better. It’s a contagious virus with a very negative stigma. My advice is if you don’t have herpes, than don’t sleep with someone who does. Yes, I really do have herpes.

  21. 171
    kiki

    My ex whom I was with for 10 years had it (the genital kind) and only told me after we had been sexually active with one another.  It was upsetting and inconsiderate, even though I can understand the anxiety and fear of rejection.  We stayed together and had unprotected sex all that time.  He only “broke out” 3 or 4 times in all those years and he said he could always tell ahead of time when he was going to by some feeling he would get in his lower body, so we just would have sex until it was “over” and he would then go on some antiviral to suppress it more quickly.
    In all that time, I never contracted this STD and remain STD free.  We were fine.  Yes I would freak out and start tweaking in my head from time to time about this when we were together, but then I kind of tweak about a lot of health things in general bc I’m a tad meticulous **cough(neurotic!!)** lol ;)
    I don’t think it’s a small deal, but also not a MASSIVE ginormous deal, either.  Hepatitis would freak me out, for sure, though.  My ex was a really healthy, fun person and I don’t regret my decision to charge ahead with him in the least.  I have been with neurotic hypochondriacs who are sick all the time and depressed.  THAT would be a heavier burden for someone like me in a long-term relationship.  Just my personal experience I thought I’d share.
    And by the way, love your site Evan!!

  22. 172
    Adam

    I’ve done some research on this and I’m shocked at how few of you apparently have any idea of how Herpes 1 or 2 (or viruses in general) function.  I know it’s scary, but please do the research.
     
    Any form of STD (including oral herpes) needs to be disclosed upfront.  Why are you bothering wasting anyone’s time and getting their hopes up just to tell them, “Oh, btw, I have this virus that if you don’t have is an absolute deal-breaker”?  It doesn’t matter if that person is so reckless or ignorant as to be cool with acquiring a lifelong illness.  It should be a deal breaker for the infected.  How can you knowingly choose to spread a disease to another person?
    There are plenty of infected individuals out there to date already.  In fact, you have way more potential partners that share your virus than don’t.  Put it on your profile or get it out of the way right up front if someone asks you out in person.  All incurable diseases are serious.  Even if you don’t consider them as such, others do.

  23. 173
    Adam

    BTW, you can’t test to see if you DON’T have herpes.  You can only test to confirm that you DO, and only around the time of an outbreak when the count is high enough in your system.  So there really is no way to be sure a person does not have this disease.  That’s why the best you can do is to get to know a person enough to trust them BEFORE kissing them and exposing yourself to the virus (which IS transmissible while asymptomatic).  Yeah, that doesn’t jive real well with the current dating norm, but guess what… that needs to change.
    Also, for those who mention knowing and choosing not to tell your partner; how does that make you any better than a rapist?  Grow up and have some kind of integrity.  You would want to have been shown that same decency before it happened to you.

  24. 174
    Goldy

    To Adam – I get it. The responsibility is both person’s – everyone needs to ASK and Tell. But, put it up front in my profile ? Next to my picture ? uh. no. Also, tell someone right up front – do they have the integrity to keep my information private? Just cause a person does not have herpes does not make them trust worthy. As far as oral herpes, I have no idea if I have it – I’ve never had an outbreak there. I taught school and about half the kids (under 12) came in with a cold sore at one time or another – and maybe never had one again. I don’t think they will remember or tell. The stigma about a cold sore on your lip is not the same as on the genitals but both spread to the genitals the same way. It’s awful either way. I recently watched an old episode of The Office (Sex Ed) where Michael comes in with some sores that could be herpes on his face. A viewer said, “Don’t you understand how funny that is. The joke is that HSV-1 is way different than HSV-2.” That’s not really the joke. I’m a little scattered here on this one, so forgive me. Also, I recently began dating a man and at the fourth date i told him i have herpes. I began the conversation with, “Have you been tested for STDs?” That made all the difference – it was not just my “confession and disclaimer” so  making things a two way discussion (asking and telling) is the way to go for all the herpes folks with integrity! BTW – it makes no difference to him – we are careful and communicate and things are going well. Enjoyed your thoughts.

  25. 175
    Fox

    I have a friend that has Herpes but he goes out and have intercourse with other girls without telling them. one thing i’m very hesitant is; he started to date a close friend of mine (to be exact; slept with her) couple months back without telling her that he has herpes. And now, he wants to date her again. Since now I know he has tested positive for herpes I feel that he is being very selfish not telling his partners before sex. Since this girl he wants to go back with is a friend of mine, do you guys think I should let her know about his herpes? I don’t want any of my friend relationships to be broken. What should I do? Any suggestion/help?
    by the way, he doesn’t tell his partners about herpes. I’m the one that only knows;;
     

    1. 175.1
      SingleGirlInChicago

      Give him an ultimatum. Tell him to tell your friend (who he’s dating) that he has Herpes or you’re going to tell. Offer to help him with his speech (as someone suggested here) but tell him that you think this is serious and he’s ‘messing with’ people’s lives. Herpes IS a big deal and part of the reason that it’s such a prevalent virus nowadays is because people ‘downplay’ it. I know people with Herpes, too, but so what? It doesn’t mean that I’m okay with contracting it!!! So please, tell your friend to tell people and grow up and act like a man.

  26. 176
    Goldy

    Hi, Fox,
    Tell your friend he has 24 hours to tell he about his status or you will do it for him. You can help him practice “the talk”, tell him to go online for some resources or appeal to his integrity. Knowingly putting people at risk for STDs is against the law – so I guess you can threaten to call the health department, too. I suggest a more helpful, tender approach. Bottom line, you know, she’s your friend and he is withholding vital information she needs to know. How did he tell you? Your opinion of him did not change because of the herpes but because he is being deceptive and irresponsible. I truly feel for him, this is tough – but she has the right to know and you can protect her. Who knows, your friend my take up your offer to discuss herpes with the woman – that’s how hard it is to disclose – he may consider it a favor or even a service he would pay money for. 

  27. 177
    SingleGirlInChicago

    I honestly would NOT continue to date someone who tells me that they have Herpes. I know that there are a LOT of people who has this virus, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a big deal. Part of the reason why a LOT of people have Herpes and think it’s ‘ok’ is because it’s made out to be a non-issue and is downplayed. I’m not sorry about the way that I feel. With all the other things going on in my life: living paycheck to paycheck, not knowing if I can pay my rent the next months, job instability…I DO NOT need a medical issue on top of everything else. I’ve managed to live into my mid-30s without Herpes and it’s going to stay that way as long as I keep turning down offers for one night stands, make out sessions in bars with random men, dating men who have other women (and you know about it), and other promiscuous behavior. As long as I continue to avoid ALL of that…I’m cool. Women need to get to a point where you’d rather be alone than to catch a lifelong virus (that can mess with your chance of having a healthy pregnancy if you want that), and/OR have emotional mental issues that comes with dealing with two timers. Just sayin…

  28. 178
    Jean

    I can understand where you are coming from, but I would never have sex with someone who has herpes.  It is too risky even with a condom.  It is a skin on skin disease.  Don’t downplay it!  It surprises me to hear these people with herpes writing and saying no one has ever refused them because of the herpes.  Do people really want to get laid that bad that they would risk getting it?  

  29. 179
    Savanna

    Hi all –

    Thank you so much fr sharing your stories, opinions and insights. I contracted HSV2 many years ago from a partner that did not tell me. Since then I have had several long term (the last one was 10 years!) relationships with loving men who did not judge me, or think it was a big deal. All of my partners were told on about the 3rd date, and they all handled it well. All tested negative after our relationship dissolved and my efforts to keep vigilant tabs on my minor outbreaks were successful.

    Last night, I told a guy i have been seeing (the potential love-of-my-life) of my STI. It was before we got sexual (we had kissed and cuddled, but nothing more) and I knew we were headed that way so I initiated “the talk”. I really had started falling for him even though we had only dated a few times, we had talked on the phone for hours at a time, so it was very difficult to tell him as I feared he would back away like I was a leper. Of course it was absolutely necessary (I have always practiced full disclosure!) To my great surprise, he blurts out in alarm, “Well I don’t want to get HERPES!” He even suggested a dating site for people “like me”. After that he was very sweet and pitying, and he thanked me for telling him… Then he withdrew like a snail into a shell. Bam. Gone.

    Sigh.

    I cried myself to sleep last night. Although he has every right to choose to disengage, this was the first rejection I have had from these stupid little, rarely occuring pimples and I was absolutely not prepared for it. It made me feel like everything I am, all the qualities I have, all the generosity, kindness, intelligence, life experience . . . Nothing that I have acheived in life outweighs a pimple cause by a virus. (The funny thing is that he confessed mid-talk that he gets “cold sores” on his lips… )

    Anyway, I just wanted to express my gratitude to y’all who have made me feel better about life and about moving forward in my search for love. I’ll spend a few more minutes being in the moment and feeling sad and morose over the loss, then I’m going to clean the house, lol.

  30. 180
    Kate

    I notice that some of the most judgmental folks have no idea whether or not they have herpes – they think the fact that they’ve never had a cold sore or a genital outbreak is proof enough. WRONG. If you haven’t had a blood test for it, you don’t know. Period. I have HSV-1 – probably have since childhood – and I have never had a cold sore. Given that more than half of the U.S. *and* global population has HSV-1, and most folks who are positive don’t know their status and are asymptomatic – you should basically assume you have it until you test negative. A standard STD panel won’t cover it, either – you’ve got to ask for it specifically.
    The people who think it’s not a big deal aren’t the problem. The folks who pontificate about how horrible it is are the ones that subtly encourage others to never, ever get tested.
    I don’t have HSV-2 and don’t want to get it, but I would never treat someone like a leper because of it. And I do disclose my HSV-1 before kissing, and definitely before giving oral sex. I’ve never had a guy refuse to kiss me, but I have had those who’d prefer I not give them oral because they don’t want a genital infection. 

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