Did you know that a little over 1 in 6 people in the US between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes?
And yet, even with herpes being so common, there is still a huge stigma against it. If you are someone who has herpes, you are probably all too familiar with this stigma after getting STD testing. Likely, it causes you to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable, and it also likely significantly impacts your dating life.
But, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed that you have herpes, and you shouldn’t let it ruin dating for you.
So, how do you navigate the dating scene if you have herpes?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about dating with herpes.
Be Selective About Who You Share With
If you are about to have sex with someone, you 100 percent, no excuses, need to tell them you have herpes.
Yes, it can feel embarrassing and awkward, and there’s a chance they may not want to be with you anymore. But guess what? If your former partner had told you about their herpes, you wouldn’t be in the position you are in right now.
And, if someone walks away because they find out you have herpes, then that just tells you what kind of person they are.
However, you may not choose to have sex with everyone on a first date. Which begs the question, “If you haven’t been intimate yet, do you need to tell them?”
The answer is no. You do not need to tell every single person you go on a date with that you have herpes, except in the cases where things get physical. After all, there is no confirmation that you guys will hit it off on the date and stay in touch after.
There’s no point in wasting all of that energy telling a secret to someone you’ll never see again.
Now, let’s say you meet someone and go on a number of dates without getting physical. At what point should you tell them? Right before you’re about to take your clothes off? At dinner? When?
If you feel like things could get serious with the person you’re seeing, you’ll want to tell them about your herpes before the clothes come off. This way, they won’t feel “tricked” into sleeping with you.
How Do You Tell Someone?
Ok, so let’s say you’ve gotten to the point with someone where you feel like things could get serious.
There’s a certain level of trust between the two of you, and you feel like it’s time you tell them you have herpes. So, how do you broach the subject? Let’s look at a few tips that will help make the conversation easier.
Before you tell your partner about your herpes, it can help to practice beforehand what you are going to say.
You don’t need to memorize a full speech or anything, but having an idea of what you are going to say can help prevent you from getting choked up on your words.
Make a note of the key points you want to say and practice what you are going to say a few times in front of the mirror. Sometimes, even just talking out loud about your herpes, even if it’s just to yourself, can make future conversations a lot easier.
Pick a Comfortable Spot
Make sure you tell them in a location where both of you feel comfortable. The location should be private, and there should be minimal distractions around you.
It may seem like a great idea to have the conversation at your favorite coffee place, but you’ll soon realize the close proximity of other patrons, the grinding of beans, and the loud chatter can be very distracting.
For Texas singles, having the conversation in a park or at one of each other’s homes can be a good idea.
Be Direct, But Don’t Apologize
Look, herpes is a disease, but it does not rule your life. Nor does it rule the life of your potential partner.
While having herpes certainly comes with some drawbacks, you should not be apologizing to anyone for it. Plus, when you apologize to someone for having herpes, it can make the disease seem like it’s a lot bigger deal than it actually is.
When telling your partner, avoid negative phrasing like “I’m sorry”, “I hate to tell you this”, or “I know this is a huge blow, but..”.
Instead, be direct and say something like, “Hey, I really like you, but before our relationship moves forward, I need to tell you that I have herpes”.
Explain the Facts
One of the major issues you will face when dating is most people who don’t have herpes are not at all educated on the disease.
Many people view it as a “death sentence” and think any form of genital contact will result in them contracting the disease. Therefore, it is also very important you explain the facts to your partner and tell them what you are doing to take care of your herpes.
You can explain to them you are taking suppressive therapy and that, if you aren’t having an outbreak, the risk of spreading it is very low. And, you can also mention condoms and other forms of protection can help reduce the risk of spreading it as well.
Be Ready for All Different Kinds of Reactions
Let’s face it, not everyone out there is prince/princess charming, so you need to be prepared for a range of reactions.
Even the best of people, in most cases, will react with uncertainty when you tell them. If someone is uncertain, it is very important to be patient and to allow them to ask you questions.
Also, after you tell your partner, don’t try to force them into giving you an answer right away. Likely, they’ll want to do some research of their own, so it’s important you give them time to think things over before they decide whether or not they’d like to continue things with you.
Dating with Herpes: Are You Ready to Get Back in the Game?
As you can see, dating with herpes comes with its difficulties, but it is definitely not impossible.
If you have any questions about dating with herpes, please let us know in the comments below.
And, if you’re still on the hunt for Mr. or Ms. Right, be sure to check out this blog post on how to find your perfect match.