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Good morning all,

 First I’d like to echo the sentiment of what many other people have had to say about this website. It’s literally a God send. Reading everyone’s experiences has helped me a lot but I don’t think I’ve come across a topic that speaks directly to my situation so here goes something.

 

I’m a black male in my early thirties. Me and my current girlfriend have been together for a little over a year now. We met in grad school and started dating shortly thereafter in October of last year. Prior to getting with her, I’d done my share of sleeping around in my twenties but got tired of “playing the game” and with other people’s emotions. I cheated on my exes, and was quite frankly a shitty boyfriend even when I wasn’t. It felt like I would leave a trail of broken hearts anywhere I’d go. I don’t know if it is my girlfriend, or growth/ maturity as a person but I didn’t want that for her. I didn’t want that for us. So I made a conscious decision to make a change. So I did. And it’s been great...until early January of this year.

In January, I noticed what appeared to be a small bump that grew to be a small cut on the shaft of my penis near the head. Initially, I didn’t pay it much attention because it wasn’t causing me any discomfort and just looked bad. After a week or too, the cut healed and I went about my business as usual. Around the end of March/beginning of April of this year, I noticed the same area of my penis began getting irritated again. This time was different though: it was taking more time for the area to heal and was also accompanied by another “bump” near the other one. I began to worry. Around this same time, my girlfriend complained of a yeast infection that she went and got checked out. Knowing that it was rare, but possible for men to get yeast infections too, I decided to go to the doctor. I also attributed it to rough sex. The doc did a physical examination and said four words I’ll never forget: “it looks like herpes.” My heart dropped. I was shocked, confused, and sad. How did this happen? When did this happen? Why now, of all times and when I’m finally “doing things right” does this happen? I’d been regularly tested in the past and always received a clean bill of health. The doctor did the swab test and sent them to the lab for analysis. 

I had to figure out how I was going to tell the woman I love, of my dreams, I have herpes. I still held out hope that I didn’t. I anxiously awaited the results of that test. It felt like the longest two days ever. However, over the course of those two horrible days, I somehow reconciled within myself that I didn’t want to know. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my girlfriend of my potential diagnosis. I irrationally assured myself that by not knowing if I had hsv was for the best and would allow me to stay with the love of my life. So I made the selfish decision of willful ignorance.

Prior to leaving the doctor’s office, I was prescribed 10 day antivirals and a topical ointment. I used both (the ointment sparingly) and haven’t had any major issues since April. I lied and told my girlfriend I went to the doctor and was told I had a yeast infection too so we didn’t have sex for about a week or so. Other than that, we continued to have sex on a regular basis.

About two weeks ago, my girlfriend complained of not wanting to be intimate (highly unusual for her). I asked if everything was ok and she lost it. She told me she had herpes. Everything came full circle. I had those same feelings of shock, confusion and sadness all over again. I asked a lot of questions. She told me she got it in undergrad and has been living with it for several years now. She’s only had one outbreak (this being the second) since we’ve been together and I wasn’t aware of the first one because she went and visited her family for the holidays. She’s only disclosed to two other partners besides me: the guy she was dealing with and an old ex. Other than that she said she didn’t feel the need to disclose to other sexual partners or curtail her sexual exploits because she’d be sure not to be sexually active when she was experiencing an outbreak. To her knowledge, she’s never given hsv to anyone.

 I told her I’m “pretty sure” she gave it to me and understood the fine line between wanting to protect your sexual autonomy and disclosing. I also told her I wanna work through this.

Here’s where several conflicts arise. I know EXACTLY how she feels in terms of not wanting to disclose. I literally did the same thing and (at the time) put her health at risk for selfish reasons. I also don’t know if I’m more willing to work through this because I feel genuinely stuck or I truly feel like she’s the one for me. If we’re not supposed to be together, I don’t know how/what my dating life would look like. I think I took more of an issue with her causal dating style after her diagnosis than the actual diagnosis itself. I don’t think I’d be able to do that and it honestly made me view her in a different light. I’ve been asking myself is this my penance for my past transgressions? Do I tell her what really happened at my doctor’s appointment? Does it even matter at this point? I also feel like a hypocrite even being upset in the slightest about all of this, but I feel like I should be more mad at her...but I’m not. I still love her. I guess I’m just, conflicted. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  

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