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question123

How do I stop being terrified?

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Hi there, 

I was diagnosed with HSV-2 several years ago. (I got tested after my partner at the time had an outbreak.) I've been on suppressive medication since the diagnosis and have never had a visible outbreak (that I am aware of). 

It was a non-issue until a potential partner rejected me once I disclosed my diagnosis. I have generalized anxiety and OCD and his rejection set off a severe obsession about having an outbreak or transmitting the virus to future partners that a year later, I am still struggling with daily. I go to therapy for it twice a week.  

My current boyfriend does not have the virus; he is aware that I do and is 100% fine with it. I am still on suppressive medication + we use condoms when having sex. However, I still cry nearly every time we are intimate because I am so terrified of transmitting the virus to him.

I try my best not to let his body come into contact with mine outside of the period when we are having sex (as in no cuddling or any type of intimacy before or after) and it's heartbreaking. 

I'm also terrified that I will have a small sore that I don't notice and that I will transmit the virus to him that way. I rigorously inspect my body before going to his home just in case, but obviously if we have sex spontaneously I do not always have time to check my body before and I feel deeply guilty about that. 

I don't even know what I'm asking for here, other than some hope or reassurance. How likely is it that I will have a small unnoticed sore that transmits the virus to him? I don't want to have to obsessively check my body every time before we have sex.  

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Hi @question123 and welcome! 

Thanks for sharing yourself here! It takes courage to be vulnerable, even in anonymity and talk about the hard stuff. So kudos to you for that.

A huge shift that is available to you here is to shift from the *paranoia* that you might pass herpes to your partner to being *careful* ... aka being "full of care." Why? Being paranoid keeps you in your head, running all sorts of worst-case scenarios. Being careful keeps you in your heart, in your body, connected to him in the moment, caring for him, his health, what you love about him. He wants you to be there with him, too. 

If he is 100% fine with the risk (which is pretty small actually, especially to males — read the free handouts for more on transmission rates), then let him own the risk, too. He's a grown man. Right now, you're putting it all on you because you're the one who has it. And you're making it into being the end of the world if he gets herpes, too. Of course no one wants herpes and you're both doing your best to not transmit herpes to him. But if it happens, it happens. You love each other and you're doing your best. It's not the end of his world or yours if he gets herpes. And there are plenty of couples out there (myself included) who are in discordant relationships (one partner has herpes, the other doesn't) and herpes isn't transmitted. I've been with my wife for almost 7 years now and she hasn't gotten it yet (but we both got a beautiful baby boy!). 😉 So keep it in perspective that it's not something to suffer about. It's something to be careful about and stay connected in. 

And by all means, sister, CUDDLE! (Direct orders.) 😏 I know it must feel like disease is just coming out of all of your pores, but that's just not the reality of the situation. The way most virus gets transmitted is through actual outbreaks or viral shedding when friction is involved (and since 80% of people who have herpes aren't aware that they have it, that's how so much transmission happens). So cuddling and being close in that way poses such minimal risk that it's certainly not worth it to hold back from that form of intimacy. 

Also, I think this video will be helpful to start restructuring your perspective on what this is all about. It's called "Keeping your partner herpes-free can be super sexy": https://www.herpesopportunity.com/post/keeping-your-partner-herpes-free-can-be-super-sexy


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