Hello, everyone. I've recently started seeing someone and I think she's amazing. Smart, attractive, kind, educated, loving mom, great job; everything. Tonight she told me that she has HSV-2. It was very courageous of her to share this. I don't really know much about herpes or people who live with it. Well, I understand the broad biological aspects and physical manifestations, but no idea some of the psychological implications and relationship impacts. It is something she likely got in 2019 from a guy she dated after separating from her husband of many years. This is based on her noticing he had an outbreak beginning when they had sex but didn't realize what it was until later. After she showed signs and got tested, he refused to. I have only had sex with one woman since my own divorce in 2014, because I wasn't emotionally ready for some time (tough divorce) but I fully realize that what happened to her could have happened to me. It only takes one person.
I think that I reacted well to this news from her. The issue was a little surprising for me to learn, but I didn't waver once and I told her that it doesn't scare me away. That is true. To me, she is more than a single diagnosis, she's a wonderful, special, person. We've only been dating a little while, and there is a lot that still has to happen between us to know if we are going to be right for each other longterm. We are going to find out together.
Here are some of my concerns:
-Emotional trauma from last year and the sense of betrayal she must feel from a man she dated - if that is indeed where this came from. Like me, she was with her ex-spouse for over 10 years but I have learned herpes can be dormant for many many years. Regardless, she had her first flareup last year. I'm sure that it takes time to come to terms. While everyone is different, are people generally emotionally ready for a serious relationship within a year of learning their diagnosis? If we get serious, or want to get serious, should we have group sessions with a therapist? Not couples therapy in the traditional sense, not because we have issues, but to help resolve the emotional impact together. Or is this a personal thing that I should stay out of?
-Even before I knew of the diagnosis, this exceptional person gave off a vibe that she suffers from issues with realizing her incredible worth. If this is related to the condition, what are some of the best ways to validate her? I want to remind her that she isn't diminished because of something she never asked for that happened to her. Of course, maybe it was always this way for her, but even if it was, the HSV-2 probably didn't help.
I'm going to move at her pace with sex, but I have questions there, too:
-Will she have trouble expressing herself sexually because of this? There's a lot more to making love than penetration, and I enjoy all those things. Honestly, I would be more comfortable beginning with oral sex, which is an act that I like doing. I understand there is still a risk of transmitting, but once a year I actually get a cold sore so the virus is already in my mouth even if it is almost always dormant. Are women more self-conscious about receiving oral pleasure after a diagnosis? If so, does that go away with trust, or is that also more personal than related to interpersonal dynamics?
This is a question of ignorance -well- I guess all my questions are, but:
What is the scientific forecast for herpes? Medications seem to be a game changer for mitigation, but do people think one day a "cure" will be available? Not that it would change my feelings about her, but this is simply curiosity speaking. On this topic of medication, she does take Valtrex.
Lastly, and this is the hard part to ask about:
If we are together a long time, I imagine eventually I will have a high risk of contracting the HSV-2. Even with being "careful". It's a little scary. Not scary enough to keep me from giving myself fully to a relationship if we fall in love, but I'd be a fool to not be a little nervous. Obviously, because of welcoming a potential uncomfortable condition, but, also... what if I get it and we break up for some reason? Then she'd be gone and I'd be left alone with a lifelong issue. I know there are no guarantees (I never thought I'd be divorced/single at 40!), and I shouldn't expect them, but how do people approach this fear? I want to overcome it.
Thanks for any advice. I assume these questions have been asked before, but the context might be different.
I may have more questions later, too. If people have questions for me, I will answer so long as they don't break any trust with (her).