I totally understand where your head is at right now because I’ve been there, too. I was diagnosed five years ago and had some similar thoughts then. Since then I’ve disclosed to a number of partners and found that people pleasantly surprise you when you give them the opportunity.
I’ve shared with a number of partners who were totally nonplussed and two who really surprised me with how much they knew about it. One said “I think the stigma associated with it is totally undeserved” and the other told me it just wasn’t a big deal.
For me the worst disclosure result was a potential partner who felt I owed him something because I had herpes. Like it made me less than somehow and like I should be grateful he was willing to be with me and he expected the sex to be only about him instead of about us. I walked away from that because I don’t believe that any STI or really any characteristic any of us has makes us less deserving of an equal partnership.
I don’t know if this helps, but when you ask those what if questions, what is the worst case scenario answer? If people find out, does that make you a lesser person? Do you think that makes you less valuable to the people who care about you? If you disclosed to someone and they publicly shamed you on social media or told all their friends, to anyone with a heart, that person looks like the jerk, not you. And that’s not someone you want in your life anyway, right?
You are still deserving of love and can have a fun and fulfilling love life in spite of having herpes. I hope your fears of disclosure and rejection don’t keep you off dating permanently because you will miss out on all of the good stuff, too, just to avoid the a**holes who could be cruel about it. I don’t know where you’re at on this, but I don’t want you dating those a**holes! If they treat you poorly because you have a sexually transmitted skin condition, good riddance and next, please. They’re not worth another thought after they show their true colors.
Going out there and dating and disclosing also helps to get rid of the stigma (and my ex is right, it is 100% undeserved) one person at a time. I for one got the virus from a partner who disclosed he had it. I knew I was attracted to the person and him having an STI didn’t change that and didn’t affect his ability to be a good partner. I’m not interested in being with anyone who doesn’t feel the same way and I hope that, one day, you can get there, too.
Lastly, you don’t have to feel like dating necessarily means you are passing on the pain of your experience to future partners. It’s different for everyone and as long as you are open with each other and make decisions that keep both of you safe, you are doing your best to protect them. If you do end up transmitting it, they might think you’re well worth a little pain that can come along with it.
I hope this wasn’t too long. Just let yourself have your feelings right now, they are totally normal, but don’t get too comfy in that dark place. I’m here if you want someone to talk to 🙂