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My boyfriend of 3 years is afraid to touch me because of herpes ... still

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First off...Thank Goodness I found this site last night! I have been reading a lot of stories & it's so nice to not have to feel so alone. ***Warning this is super long*** :)


So here is my problem. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years now. I told him about having hsv2 after about 2 months after meeting him (hardest thing ever, I was scared sick). At first he didn't think he could continue being with me as more than friends, which hurt but I completely understood. Eventually he changed his mind & decided I was worth the risk..sidenote: since I contracted hsv2 almost 5 years ago I've only had the one initial outbreak & he was adamant about me getting retested which was obviously pointless.


Anyway, navigating our situation was pretty hard on me at first. I went on medicine right away and take it daily to make myself less contagious. Then he decided to come up with ways to make himself more comfortable about being intimate with me. Ex. Wearing protection obviously, always wearing boxer briefs when we have sex so there is no skin to skin contact & last but probably the hardest for me, he always wears rubber gloves to touch me (like Dr. gloves). I was so upset the first time he suggested wearing the gloves. I felt disgusting, awful, mortified, embarrassed & I cried a lot.


In the beginning he was getting tested so often his insurance wouldn't approve it anymore. He still is constantly looking for information on a vaccine or cure. Maybe not as often as he did in the beginning though. We recently just bought a house & talk about getting married & having kids eventually. I asked him one day how we could have kids if he's too afraid to even touch me & he basically implied we would have the Dr's do it with his sperm :-( I finally asked him a few days ago if he could ever see himself being comfortable even to touch me without gloves if we were married & he said honestly he wasn't sure.


Can you imagine how this makes me feel?


I love him so much & besides this things are pretty great. I just don't think I can spend the rest of my life with someone who is afraid to touch me without gloves on & possibly never sleep with me without protection even if we are married. I feel like I can't really say anything & feel guilty when I do because I feel like I'm basically asking him to put himself even MORE at risk. :-/


I don't know what to do.. any & all advice PLEASE! :-/

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Hi mysecretlife22!


Welcome to the forums and thank you for sharing yourself here!


First off, you AREN'T dirty, contagious, disgusting, and any other horrible thing you might be thinking about yourself right now. It's just not true. I promise you. :)


And I could imagine if I hadn't yet healed my associations around having herpes that someone insisting on wearing a biohazard suit around me would trigger a lot of my own self-criticisms, too. :) And hey, keep in mind that a lot of this is his own paranoia bumping up against your own paranoia. Sounds like a perfect storm of paranoia! It doesn't mean that you are a radioactive lump of herpes infection. You aren't a walking infection. The healing process for you is to really get on a deep level that how he is acting doesn't mean anything about you. Only you get to determine that. He's not MAKING you feel any certain way. His actions are reminding you of your own self-judgments. And if you can get to the root of those self-judgments, then his paranoia won't affect you as much.


And does he know that with suppressive therapy and condoms, there's only a 1% chance that he'd get herpes? It's true. There's more of a chance that he'll get hit by a car walking across a neighborhood street. So maybe a part of it is just a misunderstandings about the low, low chance of getting herpes and maybe another part of it is just plain paranoia/OCD. Either way, know that you aren't a disgusting person. You're still just as beautiful and sexy as you've ever been. Don't let a simple skin condition (or what someone else thinks about it) change your own opinion of yourself. It's not up to you to feel guilty about any of this. He and you work together to keep him as safe as possible, but it doesn't help anyone for both of you to feel constantly paranoid and guilty. And if he can't get over it, is it worth staying in relationship? Everyone takes chances when they get into relationship. Sometimes it's herpes. Other times it's credit card debt or being a snorer. ;) Let's put this in perspective and not blow it out of proportion. It is what it is. And it's not as bad as the stigma might make it seem.

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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Thanks for sharing. I too am in a similar situation, but without the gloves or as much time invested. I'm only 8 1/2 months deep. I'm willing to bet that given enough information and enough time, he'll be willing to accept the minor risk. Something helpful for me was discussing with my partner what her fears were. Regardless of how much somebody hears or reads about the risk, sometimes they just don't get how minor this skin condition is; how little it impacts our daily lives. One reason my girlfriend was so scared about getting H was because she knows I take a pill every day! A pill! I reminded her that if she got H, neither of us would have to take a pill for suppression unless we had too many outbreaks.


I know from experience that therapy can work wonders. After three years I'm sure you know a lot about this man. But there are likely things neither of you know about yourselves. A talented therapist will probably have no trouble finding a source of his fear. If you're worth it to him, and he's obviously worth it to you, what could a few hour long therapy sessions hurt? Hang in there!

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It could be that your feelings about being treated this way by some negative self stigmas but it is also likely in my opinion that maybe this just isn't what you want your sex life to be like, maybe you want to be able to feel more intimate or more spontaneous sexually and I think that is not a ridiculous thing to want or to ask for in a relationship even if you have herpes. I have herpes and I fully expect to have a normal sex life one day even if it takes a few more years for me to get used to the idea. It sounds like you have needs that aren't being met in this relationship and I don't think that you should give them up just because you have herpes, wanting to conceive a child naturally is a desire that many women have and I know many women with herpes who have multiple children and their husbands do not have herpes. I personally could never feel comfortable in a sexual situation in which I was being touched with rubber gloves, it would make me feel disgusting whether I had herpes or not.

That being said I don't think all is lost! it sounds like you guys have a great foundation for your relationship, therapy can be very powerful. I think you should go to therapy together, maybe bring one of those great info packed printouts from this website and you two can talk about this info with your therapist present so that she can help him deal with his irrational fears. Best of luck to the two of you!!

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Thank you all for your responses! :-) I did end up talking to him a bit about it some more the other night and I shared with him some of the information on the site about how using protection and me being on medication etc makes me so much less contagious and also about how there's only a 1% chance for hsv-2 to be passed on to him orally if he was to go down on me... He basically said he felt like those calculations weren't corret (Did I mention that he's an accountant/thinks he knows everything/ research minded?) and that he'd have to do more research to confirm that that stuff was correct...I tried to talk to him about how its not as bad as the stigma makes it seem, that technically it's just a skin rash... He said yeah but one that continues to come back and I told him well for some people yes but like he already knows I've only had the one initial outbreak, so for some people that's not the case... I was basically trying to make him realize it's not very harmful & his retort was that I could blind my kid? and I don't know if he meant my baby by giving natural birth? or what he meant by it BUT I was so upset that my response was "yes because like most people, I'll be playing with myself and then go rub my kids face"... i know i know, Not super mature but I just don't know how to get through to him! and unfortunately I think that no matter what he's always going to feel the way he feels about it... it's frustrating because I know he's done a lot of research on the topic and now he thinks he knows everything there is to know... as far as his fears, I think for him the thought of having anything "wrong" with him is the issue. Having this "disease" is not an option for him...


And yes Thirdstar, all of what you said!


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Ah, how aggravating when someone thinks that finding what random people say on the internet and takes it as absolute truth. There are plenty of horror stories out there about the worst case scenario herpes cases. Some of them include ocular herpes leading to blindness. So yes, if he wants to focus on just the worst cases and assume they'll happen to him (and the baby), no wonder he's not wanting to take the chance! In his mind he's not focusing on a 1% chance with 1% of his attention. He's focusing on a 1% chance with 99% of his attention. It's making that 1% FEEL so much higher because of his attention on it. It's simply not fair for him to put this much energy into something so small. Being careful doesn't mean being paranoid.


What if he's never able to get over this? Will this relationship be worth it to you?

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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So true Adrial!


And as far as your question, I don't know :-/ it's definitely something I've been struggling with and asking myself more & more. I think the more serious we get, the more I wonder... & obviously the harder it gets to walk away. I feel like I'm gambling & anyone that knows me knows I'm not much of a gambler normally.


I guess time will tell! I'm not ready to give up quite yet but I know I'll have to decide soon as I would like to get married & start working on a family with the next 2-3 years.

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mysecretlife, you are beautiful, worthy, lovable and so deserving of someone who accepts ALL of you, herpes, and all. I know it's not so easy to walk away from someone you have invested so much time and love into. I am not suggesting that you do, but I am saying make sure you make yourself your priority. What if nothing changes in his attitude towards you and herpes? In five years will you be glad you stayed?


You can't argue with someone who is determined not to change their mind on an issue. All you can do is decide for yourself what you want, what you need and what you deserve in a relationship. There are millions of people out in this great planet who would be totally fine with you having herpes. What if he is out there waiting for you?


It is very easy for me to sit behind my keyboard and tell you to ditch the guy and find someone who can really love and appreciate you and the gorgeous woman you are. I don't know you or your guy or your situation. You have to make a decision that you feel is best for you based on what you know right now. I am just throwing ideas out there and you can choose to consider them or not.


As you have read on these forums, many of us have found partners who love and accept us, herpes, bad hair days, PMS bitchy moments and all. You deserve to be cherished, loved, accepted and appreciated for who you are. You have a great community here to love and support whatever decision you make and are here to help you work through your feelings as you do. Thank you so much for opening up to us and caring enough about yourself to really look at what is going on for you. I wish you more happiness than you can imagine!




Brenda xo

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  • 1 month later...

Little late to the convo, but the "playing with myself and rubbing my kids face" cracked me up! I mean, really...anyway, a helpful book I bought is called "The Good News About the Bad News...Herpes: Everything You Need to Know" written by Terri Warren. Has lots of information about the virus. Hope things are going better for you!

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Man that is absolute bullshit. i dont even know you but it makes me mad for you. I would rather have sex all by myself than sleep with a guy who treated me like a science experiment. i commend you for handling this situation with fortitude and grace. I would have done went off the deep end and said this ain't dr. house. you're not dr. doolittle better take them damn gloves off. I'm gonna wish the best for u but you deserve respect and tenderness. or at least respect and fierce passion. but i just can't see anything respectful about this no matter how i look at it

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