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!


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.



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  1. 61

    Dave, I really feel for what happend , your gf having it and not telling you, I feel for you,because that is exactly what happend to me. The guy I had dated for months, didnt tell me he had herpes. Im still in shock about it and i know my life will never be the same again. Of course for me, it wont be a need to tell anyone, because I would never risk giving this to anyone. My sex life is over!

  2. 62

    For those of you who are honest about your STD beforehand, God bless you! Very commendable. For those of you who struggle with it, for God sakes think of someone other than yourself for one minute. JUST SAY IT

  3. 63
    Karl R

    gale said: (#61)
    “I would never risk giving this to anyone. My sex life is over!”

    I can understand (and applaud) your decision to never risk passing herpes on. But why does that require your sex life to be over?

    There are dating sites for people with herpes:

    You can stick to your decision and still pursue romance.

  4. 64

    I understand what your saying, and thank you. I just dont feel at this point in my life I want to date. I went wihout sex for over two years before this happed to me. Then because of one stupid choice I made in one moment of weakness, my whole life as I once knew it is over. I know it could be worse, but right now it feels like all I want to do is go into a dark room away from everyone and cry all day everyday. I guess as time passes I will learn to smile again, maybe.. But for anyone out there who doesnt have this virus. Think twice and even three or four times before you have sex with anyone,, and condom’s do not protect you 100 percent, I suggest requesting a std test before deciding to have sex. or better yet, follow Gods plan and insructions for our sex lives, then none of us would end up having this life long virus.
    Thank you though Karl,anyway..

  5. 65

    #61 – i know you’re feeling blindsided, scared, guilty, etc. about the fact that you have GH — believe me, all of us who have it went through the same emotions. i’m not sure how long you’ve known about your condition, but i would hope that you would actually read Evan’s response to the original question in this thread, as well as the posts by others who have herpes and have found that life goes on. we haven’t locked ourselves up and cried everyday, more importantly we don’t let the fact that we have GH define who we are. your sex life is not over, and neither is your potential to find “the one”.

  6. 67

    It is nice to come across these kind of websites, I feel so lonely and sad since I don’t have anyone that I can speak to about this in my life about this. Well, I have Herpes I and I just told my boyfriend that I have been recently dating about this. He was grateful to me for telling him and asked questions. HOWEVER, I acutally made one mistake and told him before we had sex. He seem fine about it but only time will tell.

  7. 68
    Karl R

    Rach said: (#67)
    “I acutally made one mistake and told him before we had sex.”

    How is that a mistake?

  8. 69


    1. 69.1

      It’ll be OK Elle. It really will. You will come to understand how many, many people are infected with this virus. At the risk of sounding Un-PC let’s throw out some stats.


      The CDC estimates that around 20% of the population in this country has HSV2. Compare that to the Census Bureau’s statistics on race in the US. 77% are listed as Caucasian. 12% of the population are African American.  17% are Hispanic. SO, if you really think about it, there are twice as many people with Herpes as there are there are African Americans in this country and it’s almost the same as the number of African Americans AND Hispanics combined. You are far from alone.

  9. 70

    Elle, just find a man with herpes. Since you already have it…

  10. 71

    I had unprotected sex a week ago and broke out 24 hrs later. I went to the doc and she believes it is and took a scraping. No results yet. I just went over and told the gentleman that I think he gave it to me & he should get tested. I am hearing though that you can have it for years and not now it? I have decided two things if I have it then I am giving up sex completely including looking after my personal needs – I would never have the courage to tell someone – so I would rather they think I am frigid. And if I don’t my whole body will be in a condom. I am scared to death right now. I am taking lysine, valtrex, Vit A, Zinc, Lyphsot, astralgus and a bunch of other stuff. Why can’t they just cauterize it out?

    1. 71.1

      You mentioned the idea of cauterizing it out. I had that same though my whole life. I was born with it 33 years ago and figured with tech and medicine advancing so quickly we’d of seen something like that by now. Then recently I was in unity and noticed my electrical engineering professor had an outbreak (mouth). He also was one of those super genius people from the navy elites and Boeing medical science club. He had patented electronics for inside your skin. So I waited until I had an outbreak (mouth) and approached him about if he knew if there was a way to make a cauterizing device. He said no. So let’s hope he just said that and is really building one for his next patent. 

  11. 72

    Do as the doctor says, you will be fine.

  12. 73

    I have to say, I received this ‘gift’ from a man who supposedly didn’t ‘know’ he had it and continued to lie about not having it after I had a break out and was diagnosed. Nothing hurt more, nothing. After wards, I had one relationship with a friend who I had known for several years, knew me, trusted me and loved me. However, after that fell apart, I have not been able to be in a relationship because of ‘the’ herpes. I am always honest, if we click on the first date, I send an email or letter explaining it, only because it’s easier for me to explain myself and not get flustered and chicken out. I always explain this in the email/letter and always have offered other sources to show that herpes isn’t as bad as we all think, but then again, its coming from someone with herpes, so yea.

    I’m not really sure to go from this point on, I hear so many success stories, that their partners were all ok with it, but I haven’t had success. So that leads me to think, what’s wrong with me?

    Just sayin.

  13. 74


    can you not find someone else with herpes?

  14. 75
    Karl R

    Elle said: (#73)
    “I send an email or letter explaining it, only because it’s easier for me to explain myself and not get flustered and chicken out.”
    “…but I haven’t had success.”

    I was on the receiving end of one of these conversations (she had Hepatitis C instead of herpes). Based on my personal experience, I suspect that you would improve your success rate by changing two things:

    1) Wait longer before telling him. This is personal information that you should share on a need-to-know basis. He doesn’t need to know this after the first date. He needs to know it before you have sex. I think you should wait at least 3 or 4 dates before telling him.

    2) Tell him face-to-face. I realize this is a lot more stressful than sending an e-mail. However, this is extremely personal information, and you can’t effectively communicate it in an impersonal manner (like via e-mail); too much of the content of what you’re saying gets lost.

    “that leads me to think, what’s wrong with me?”

    There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with your approach.

  15. 76
    Ed Farnsworth

    From Kat; “…the man who warns the healthy (please) that women who have herpes lie – you’re making a gross generalization about women who have herpes – in my experience some men have no problem lying about or minimizing their condition.”
    Yeah, you’re right, Kat. I was angry and way out of line when I submitted that post. I’ve had female friends who got herpes from guys who didn’t tell them. Those men are the real scum. Not the innocent woman they gave it who is too confused or scared to be upfront right away. Tell you partners right away girls, it’s a good way to eliminate judgmental jerks like me from the potential partner pool.
    apologizes from Ed

    1. 76.1

      Nicely done Ed. Much respect for the way you handled that.

  16. 77

    Yeah its funny how yu can just turn your noise up at someone with the hsv 2 but when its actually yu who got it,its a hole different ball game… to be honest we are out casts sorry to say.Ive just recieved it 1 month ago and i know my sex life is over.And the thing about not mentioning anything till your in bed together is just terrible… shouldnt this be said before hand instead of wasting someones time,talk about trying to trick someone into bed and then making them feel sorry for you( nice comment ) Oh and half these people that actually reply to your messages dont even have herpes,so its easy for them to say “ohh there dating sites for you guys and girls ( you other out cast freaks right ) sorry but that pretty crap to push those people into that corner. I went onto a site to see what could be done and ask for help and my question about my sex life how it would never excist again was answered by an amature and funny enough said the same think evan did ( reading from a script are we)… talking about babys and thinking of others, “ooh sorry dont i count anymore now that i have herpes… doctors are a joke.”Its ok they say you can still have sex just wear protection” oh thank so when ive got my genital out do you think she might be scared of whats on the end of my penis ? get real people..

  17. 78

    A friend of mine had the unfortunate experience of contacting herpes from an ex-boyfriend. It really devastated her for some time but she moved on with her life. Now she found a lovely person that she wants to have a long term relationship with. She has not told him that that she has herpes yet. I think she is afraid that if she does he may say goodbye. Talk about a terrible dilema, I wish I knew what to tell her. In my culture we dont actually ever talk about these things.

  18. 79

    i was seeing a man that i have known for 15 years, for about 2 months. We were taking things slowly because of our previous marriages and neither wanted to get hurt. I recieved the gift from my ex husband and his affair. I told this guy when i knew that we had potential for something special, after being together for about 4 weeks. I had a dr. appointment for another pap because I also recieved hpv and have had to have a biopsy. that is when i told him. It was the hardest thing that i ever had to do because I knew that time wasnt on my side. We had an open and honest relationship and very close friendship as well. I have been on valtex for 2 years and never had another out break, but i do know the risks involved. he did research and thought he could handle it. 6 weeks later, i lost alot as did he. I understand his choice and i respect it but it still hurts to this day because i know that he could have been the one, if i was clean. I also lost a very good friend and i am struggling to get that back because our friendship was special. i lost all the way around because of my ex and i did not have a choice. i have no idea what my future holds and someone will love me inspite of the ‘gift’. I just hope that people can be open and upfront w/others about if or not they have this. It does ruin many lives if you know and do not disclose, especially the ones whom believe in you.

  19. 80
    Anon for this

    I have gone on 3 dates with a guy who has it. I really like him otherwise. He told me on the 2nd date. (We have not done anything that would allow me to catch it.) I have been thinking about it for a week and the situation really upsets me. It’s a horrible choice. I am leaning towards breaking things off because it’s still so early and I don’t want to compromise my health. But, it’s so rare that I meet someone I like this much.

    I know the statistics, and I know that the odds are low that I will get it. But I don’t think I will be able to enjoy having a sex life with him because it will make me paranoid all the time.

    I screened his last phone call because I am feeling so confused. I know I need to call him back, and I will. I think it’s telling that I avoided his call though. The situation makes me really sad. I wish there was better treatment for this disease, and I wish there was less of a social stigma.

    1. 80.1

      Keep in mind that you have a one in six chance of running into another guy who has it too and that one may not even know it. In fact, have YOU had the blood test? One in four women is a pretty high chance. How would you feel if you broke up with this guy that you really liked, only to find out later that you were also infected. Of course, by then he’d no longer be interested in you because you turned your nose up at him. Karma can be a pretty interesting lady.

  20. 81

    Anon, so you are going to trash a promising relationship because you might possibly catch a skin rash from him? Do you realize that EIGHTY PERCENT of American adults have ORAL herpes?? And that oral Herpes is no less or more of a health issue than genital? Do you ask all your dates whether they’ve ever had a cold sore before you kiss them?? And if they have, do you then break off your budding relationship with them?

    I am really sick of the unwarranted stigma some people place on genital Herpes. If people bother educating themselves and actually thinking critically about this issue rather than running on paranoia and hysteria, we’d all be a lot better off.

    I find this link very helpful to educate the ignorant:
    “Remember to put herpes into perspective: it is an annoying, recurrent skin condition that is treatable and manageable–no more, no less.” Amen!

  21. 82
    Anon for this

    Cynthia, the stigma is a large part of my issue with it. What if I date him for 6 months, catch the disease, and our relationship doesn’t work out? [Note: That is exactly what happened to him. And yes, he used protection. So it’s a little difficult to assume that if we’re responsible I won’t catch it.] I’m not willing to be a sacrificial lamb. More relationships fail than succeed. I don’t want to shrink my future dating pool. Dating is hard enough as it is.

    It’s also not exactly the same as having a cold sore. I get cold sores, but they don’t give me a fever, make it hurt to pee, or increase the odds that I will have to have a C-section when/if I have a baby. I understand that it’s the same virus but it’s not a perfect equivalency.

    I feel badly and I have a lot of sympathy, but I also have to watch out for myself. I understand the statistics and that the probability is low, but I also know my tendency to overthink things. I don’t think I will be able to feel secure about having a sex life with him. That’s not fair to either of us.

    1. 82.1

      82Anon for this

      “I feel badly and I have a lot of sympathy, but I also have to watch out for myself. I understand the statistics and that the probability is low, but I also know my tendency to overthink things. I don’t think I will be able to feel secure about having a sex life with him. That’s not fair to either of us.”

      I’ll tell my story in another post, but wanted to reply to this here. I’ve been with my live-in boyfriend for 2 years, but are breaking up due to incompatibility. Not necessarily the herpes, but it has played a role. He accepted it after lots of questions and research (and before we had any sexual contact), but he could never get over his fear of performing oral sex on me and ultimately, our sex life was crap. I went from having an orgasm with my previous partner every time to having 3 in 2 years. We were both cheated: him by his paranoia and me for bringing herpes to the table. We’ve had a decent relationship, but there is no future and when our lease is up in May, we are parting ways. His not being honest early on about how uncomfortable it made him feel became an issue that made me very angry. Made me feel like I was settling for less and here, I’m the one with the virus! Go figure. I can see both sides of the coin.

    2. 82.2

      Wait, you have HSV1 and you’re treating this guy like a second class citizen because he gets his skin rash in a different location than you do? What blatant hypocrisy. Why do you think anyone else should put up with YOUR infection if you’re so intolerant of other people’s? If you can’t get over yourself enough to be a good girlfriend to this guy you should break things off politely. He deserves a better woman frankly.

    3. 82.3

      So wait: you have oral herpes and you’re rejecting someone because they have genital herpes? Do you actually know that you don’t both have the same strain??

      1. 82.3.1

        Obviously you are very uninformed so I’ll spell it out: if you both have the same strain ( which is entirely possible),  neither of you will “catch” the other’s infection. You have it already and will not develop it genitally. Likewise he will not get cold sores orally. Different story if you have hsv 1 and he has hsv 2 though.

  22. 83

    “It’s also not exactly the same as having a cold sore”. Yes, actually it is. EXACTLY the same as a cold sore–it IS a cold sore–only in a different location. In fact, if you do some research, you’ll see that oral Herpes is considered by some doctors to be somewhat *more* of a health risk, because of the remote possibility of brain infection. Are you going to stop kissing men you date now unless they’ve tested free of both Herpes I and II (because either can reside in either location)? Now that you know there is some remote chance of getting a brain infection from it?

    Your statement “the stigma is a large part of my issue with it” is extremely disappointing. You PERPETUATE the stigma by buying into it. Just as many white people a few decades ago perpetuated racism by caving in to societal demands that they not associate with blacks. Yes, I’m making an analogy to racism. When you cut out someone from your dating pool because something about them is a social stigma, you’re behaving very similarly.

  23. 84

    Ooohhh… you GET COLD SORES, do you? That means you have Herpes, dear! I certainly hope you disclose this information to your dates before you kiss them.

  24. 85

    @ #84

    And certainly before you perform oral on a guy. You could give him genital herpes that way. And intercourse with him could infect you genitally in turn.

    Something people with “cold sores” either don’t know, or ignore.

  25. 86

    This site has really enlightened me. thanks for people that contributed. I would like to relay my nightmare and see if any others have had or are having the same. 10+ years ago I was exposed to genital herpes by my ex-husband’s infidelity. I have never had an outbreak or been tested partially due to the “small town” that I reside. Emotionally this “exposure” was very devastating to me. Being the single parent of 2 young children, I didn’t make time to date, am a very private person and so I didn’t address the issue. Three years ago, when I started dating a man and the relationship was progressing (no sex yet) I still postponed talking about it as I was so humiliated, embarrassed & all of the above. Finally after another month, I told the guy, although I emotionally broke down during my explanation. The guy just blew it off, insisted it was no problem as he had had oral herpes for years and he would probably pass that to me or vice versa (his inference ‘through oral sex’). I still insisted on protection, until he insisted on stopping protection as the relationship continued. It later came out that this guy was physically separated from his wife and he stated that he had been for years (emotionally and physically). Our relationship was on and off for a couple of years. When it was apparent that he was not going to end his marriage & he started “scaring” me with his emotional state, I ended the relationship. Months later, he calls and tells me that I infected him with genital herpes. I said that I was sorry if he was infected but I had informed him before we ever had any sex that I had been exposed and possibly infected. He threatened to contact the County Health Unit and expose me unless I started seeing him again. (yes, he is still married and is now back living in the same house with his wife & kids). He continued this threat to me and now he has actually filed and is trying to sue me for maliciously infecting him. I know his whole intent is to totally humiliate me in my “small town” and I don’t have the $’s to legally fight him. Does anyone have any suggestions on any advocacy groups that would /could help. I am at my wits end. Also, my point in sharing with this site is that even though I was honest and informed him of my potential to have herpes before the relationship, it has come back to bite me because he is lying.

  26. 87

    Really basic suggestion: get tested! If you’re concerned that people will find out, go to another town where you don’t know anyone. Why in the world haven’t you done this already? Why would you want to operate from a basis of ignorance rather than knowledge?

  27. 88

    Hi guys, good too find a website where these issues can be discussed openly. Coming from the opposite side of the fence, I was diagnosed with herpes 2 days ago.

    I am struggling at the moment to deal with the news and can’t seem to think about anything else at the moment. I cannot be sure from whom I contracted the virus, as I have antibodies in my blood I must of had it for a while. I have never had any symptoms and have never been blood tested specifically for herpes until my test last week. I have been relatively careful with using protection apart from partners who I trusted, although never demanded to see tests. (who can you trust I suppose), nevertheless the research does state that you can still contract the virus when wearing a condom.

    I am currently seeing an amazing girl (have been for about 3 weeks) and we have a lot of fun together. Now that I have this condition I have no idea how I’m going to break it to her, the worst part of it is she is only 21 and I work with her too. I never thought I would be on the receiving end of an sti, but I am so afraid that she will run for the hills that I don’t know what to do. I haven’t left the house since I found out, and I don’t think I can emotionally deal with the conversation face to face at the moment, simply because I haven’t quite sorted my head out myself.
    I am frightened that she may have contracted it first and foremost, as we were quite drunk one night and didn’t use protection (which I know was irresponsible), although she may have also given it to me. I don’t know what I am asking of you guys just need someone to talk to really.

    I spoke to my doctor to see if I could get suppressive therapy just so that I could add that to the conversation to alleviate some anxiety (for myself and her) but I live in NZ which only has 1 antiviral available and I don;t qualify since I don’t have symptoms.

    There doesn’t seem to be much of a silver lining in this situation.

    Sorry for the long winded stream of consciousness rant, just stressed and alone.

  28. 89
    Karl R

    HSV2+ said: (#88)
    “I was diagnosed with herpes 2 days ago.”
    “I have no idea how I’m going to break it to her,”

    I would recommend breaking the news to her sooner instead of later. If you wait, you will also need to explain to her why you waited so long to tell her.

    “I am so afraid that she will run for the hills”

    That’s possible. She’ll be scared, upset, angry … and she might never want to see you again.

    “she is only 21 and I work with her too.”

    So there’s a small possibility that your coworkers will find out.

    The worst-case scenario sucks … but you can survive all the consequences. You can’t control what she does; you can only control what you do. And the only ethical course of action here is for you to let her know what’s going on.

  29. 90

    Thanks Karl R, broke the news the best I could.
    She totally understands which is obviously not what I was expecting. Guess I just worked myself up a bit too much.

    Smiling again now. 😀

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