If you are one of the many people preparing to reveal to a dating or relationship partner that you carry the Herpes virus, it is important to know that you are not alone. The fear and shame associated with sharing a personal health condition such as Herpes can cause excess, unnecessary anxiety prior to revealing the news to your partner. The possibility of rejection can be near paralyzing for many, but it will help to know that many people have gone before you and conquered it! As you contemplate and rehearse what you will say, do so with confidence knowing that there are benefits you will gain from telling the truth regardless of the outcome.
Emotional And Mental Preparation For The “Talk”
There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the conversation. This prep time is about truly taking care of you! First and foremost, you have decided to do the right thing by being honest about something your partner could possibly contract from you. That in and of itself, affords you a badge of discretionary honor. Begin with this positive attitude and thinking by starting off with this important fact.
What you are preparing to divulge to your partner requires something that many of us avoid: VULNERABILITY.
You have decided to do what is right and, in doing so, you are putting yourself in a vulnerable situation. Being vulnerable opens us up to an authentic connection of genuine, [honest] love for ourselves.
Yes, your partner may reject you, but he/she won’t if they are truly interested and attracted to you.
Herpes is something you carry; it is in no way whatsoever represent who you really are. You are so much more than this small virus. Being vulnerable not only attracts others to us, it empowers us by releasing that which is weighing us down. Whatever the outcome, you will be a stronger and better person for doing what is right and putting yourself in a vulnerable situation.
Expect the worst and hope for the best. If this theory sounds easy, it’s because it is and, better than that: it works! When we face our fears by shedding vulnerability armor it is relatively easy to expect the worst, but of course we hope for the best. Prepare yourself by loving and respecting yourself in doing what is right. The armor you shed with this honesty is replaced with an armor you use to protect yourself from disappointment by expecting the worst.
How To Tell Your Partner You Have Herpes
You have made the right decision to tell your partner you carry the herpes virus. If you choose the right time carefully and express yourself in the correct manner, there is a very good chance everything will turn out positively.
IMPORTANT! Telling your partner in person is the best way to go about it.
Ask yourself how you would like your partner to respond to what you are going to tell him/her? Do you want him to be alarmed that it is a big, deal-breaker sort of problem? Of course you don’t, thus don’t position it as such. For example, if you say “I have something to tell you and it really sucks – I’m sorry,” you will plant the fear seed before what you say even gets out.
Also, rule out any sort of negative introduction of how he/she should or shouldn’t react. Don’t suggest anything by saying, “I just know you’re going to freak out,” or “brace yourself for this” as this will set your partner up to panic. Instead, present it with an unemotional, calm, no-big-deal attitude.
Carefully choose how you describe the condition and never refer to it as a “disease.” Avoid any descriptive words such as, “incurable,” “gross,” “horrible,” or “disgusting.” You are in the driver’s seat in the conversation and you don’t want to paint any imagery of it being difficult to deal with or manage.
Additionally, before you tell your partner, learn everything you can about your condition. Simply say you have herpes and follow up with a question: do you know what that means? Add the fact that it is very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 16.2% of the United States population (1 out of every 6 people) carries the herpes virus. Explain what it means to have it and how, though some people get sores on their genitals occasionally, others have symptoms so mild they don’t even know they are carriers. Talk about it being very manageable and how over the years treatments have improved considerably.
Allow and suggest they take some time to think things over and process the information. Let your partner know that he/she is also not under any pressure to continue seeing you and if he/she does choose to continue with this relationship, there is no pressure to have intercourse. If sex becomes inevitable, then discuss how you are taking care of yourself and how you will protect him/her from contracting the herpes virus.
Remain confident in knowing that if the relationship has long-term value and continues, this will not be the last challenging obstacle you both encounter.
Try practicing what you want to tell your partner and rehearse answering any possible responses before you meet with him. Remember to keep everything you say positive.
“I think my boyfriend handled it really well with me. We dated (didn’t have sex) for quite awhile, and then he told me one night that having sex with him could be risky and he wanted me to know everything before we did anything. So, I was able to take some time, educate myself about the HSV, talk to friends, and assess how much I like him and if he is worth the risk. He is on medication to suppress his outbreaks, we are very careful, and lots of communication. In the end I felt it showed alot about his character that he told me first and I felt even stronger feelings towards him in the end. We have been together for almost a year now, I am still negative for HSV, and our relationship just keeps getting better.” — April
Picking The Right Time And Place
The best place to bring the subject up is a relaxing time where nothing is going on around you that may cause distraction. Plan for a romantic dinner at home or in a quiet restaurant or take a walk in the park.
As with any difficult topic, it’s always best to lead into it naturally in a conversation. Not doing so will add an element of surprise and urgency. A frequent and common topic of conversation is what or how one is doing for the week. When this conversation comes up, you could causally say: “that reminds me, recently I went to the doctor for a medical review and he told me I carry the genital herpes virus.”
As relationships progress toward sexual intimacy it is acceptable to ask if your partner carries any sexually transmitted diseases. If you pose the question first, you may find they are also carriers or they’ve had experience with other partners with an std. If not, this is another way to bring the subject up, “You matter a lot to me and this is a little vulnerable for me but I just want to be truthful and straight forward with you. I know we’re eventually going to have sex – so you should know I have herpes and I just wanted to put it out there in the open so we can be safe about it”.
Remember, the calm, secure, nonthreatening environment of a candle-light dinner or stroll along the river will help to ensure the information is received with an open mind.
Before bringing up the “talk”, it’s also important to keep in mind other events going on in your partners life. If he/she is struggling with a difficult boss or enduring some stressful life issues, wait until those situations are resolved before sharing the news.
Above all, don’t approach the subject during foreplay or when clothes are already off. This will dampen the mood and ultimately be disappointing to both of you. Without question, the subject should be approached before you begin physical intimacy.
“I told my partner about 6 weeks after we started dating. I looked for ages on various herpes charity websites for how to word it all.. I waited til we were alone (obviously) and relaxed at his home and sober! and I started with “I have something to tell you” and then I told him. I think I said something along the lines of “a few years ago, I stupidly trusted someone I shouldn’t have and he gave me the herpes virus”. I gave him a chance to ask me questions – I said “do you want to ask me questions or do you want me to tell you how it all works”. He opted for me to tell him so I then gave him a brief run down – how often i got the outbreaks and how i managed them. I didn’t go into gory details of “painful sores” or regret that someone I knew for years had chosen not to tell me he had it, just gave him some basic info. We are now engaged to be married and have a lovely 9 month old baby boy.” — Mom TR
How To Embrace Rejection And Move On Positively
The possibility exists that, no matter how meticulously well you deliver the news your partner will receive what you say poorly. Your partner is definitely going to have some emotions. Don’t become defensive. Bear this in mind: be prepared for your partner to run but EXPECT him/her to stay. You expected the worst, so you are not surprised.
Hold your head high because you have done what is right for both of you by sharing your situation. How he/she receives the news has nothing to do with whether or not you did the right thing.
You have presented your situation with integrity and conquered being vulnerable. If your partner rejects you because of what you revealed, they are opting out based on a tiny sliver of the pie and that is their choice. Rest assured there are plenty of fish in the sea that are interested in and attracted to the depth of what and who you are.
REJECTION doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person FAILED to notice what you HAVE TO OFFER.
Get back out on the dating scene as soon as possible if you experience rejection. Make an effort to talk to at least one man/woman when you are out with friends. The experience you had will make you stronger and you will begin to attract like-minded people. Keep moving forward!Above all, reward yourself for rejection. You did what was right so go out and buy yourself a new outfit, get a manicure, play golf, whatever it is you like to do.
Still feel awkward or having trouble meeting people who aren’t scared of your Herpes condition? Try finding local support groups to meet people through them or use online Herpes dating sites like www.positivesingles.com to meet up with new friends or potential dating partners who can relate to your condition without the discrimination.
Odds are in your favor that if presented as suggested your partner will respond calmly and with understanding. Some people will need a couple days to think it through but it’ll put you in a good place of trust rather then waiting for them to contract it and then confessing. In the event he/she responds negatively, you still come out ahead because you have been honest and applied integrity in doing so.
Recommend Reading: Reframing Rejection: Getting Rejected Doesn’t Always Have to Hurt
“…I told everyone I slept with about my herpes before I put them at risk – or I chose not to sleep with them because I didn’t want to tell them. And I never was rejected for it. As far as I know, I’ve never given my herpes to anyone. My husband and I don’t use condoms anymore, and he hasn’t caught it. We’ve been together about six years.
Emotionally, it was rough at first. But in time, it became less and less of a big deal. I never felt the need to seek counselling over it – (and I have gone for counselling over other things before, so its not a fear of couselling.)
This is one of those things that you are just going to need to find your own way through. Exactly when and how you tell is something that will vary so much from person to person – because everyone is different. But you should know that you can GREATLY reduce your partners chances of catching it by never having sex during outbreaks, and by taking antiviral drugs. And you should know that you CAN find active, sexual, healthy love – so don’t be afraid to leave a bad relationship just because you’re afraid of dating with herpes.” — Rivergirl
Remember to be positive, mature and honest about it. Keep trying and you will DEFINITELY find someone who will appreciate your honesty. Good luck!