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Male Herpes Stigma vs Female Herpes Stigma?

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As a girl I recognize that the bulk of my stigma is going to be related to being a slut, easy, stupid, etc.

I get a lot of "slut shaming" which is essentially when someone will very obviously or very subtly hint that it is your fault. "Maybe this will keep you from just jumping into bed with guys." said a friend

"For my own curiosity, how many other guys have you been with?" said an ex hookup i had to disclose to


So what types of stigmas are males facing? I want to know so I know how to relate to my partner who may be herpes positive. I want to be able to connect with how he is feeling in all of this.

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Heya Miss Kelly and Ashley!


Great question! And considering that the vast majority of people on this forum are women, it raises a good question in general: Why aren't more men participating in these conversations? Is it that women are more likely to talk about their feelings? Is it that men are more in denial about herpes? If you are a man and you are reading this, please do chime in. :)


What I have found in my own experience as a man with herpes is that the stigma started off more or less the same as what I hear the stigma being for women. But it was flipped. It was assumed I was some sort of player/casanova type who carelessly slept with a whole bunch of women and got herpes. So the assumption was the same (that you must've slept with bunches of people to get herpes), and the judgment was still there that I had no moral compass and must have slept with many a dirty person willy nilly in order to have gotten herpes. When in reality, I got herpes from my girlfriend who decided to cheat on me with her ex. Hardly a player/casanova move on my part. ;)


In my experience overall, I've had very, very few people outright judge me for having herpes. I've disclosed to family members, friends and of course lovers. I've seen a direct correlation in my okayness with myself and "success" when it comes to herpes disclosure. It's fascinating to see how my experience of having the herpes talk has changed as I get more and more accepting of myself. And I still feel my heart racing before I disclose; there's still that deep human desire in me to be loved and accepted. And sharing such a personal thing is inherently scary. Giving the herpes talk is always vulnerable. But isn't love itself a vulnerable thing to begin with? Herpes doesn't change that. And whether you're a man or a woman doesn't change that.


And beyond gender, I think what dictates acceptance most of all isn't gender; it's open-mindedness and if the other person has gone through experiences in their life that have challenged them. That leads to compassion and understanding of the human experience. It's the cliché that women are more in touch with their emotions and more comfortable in vulnerability than men are. And for the most part I'd say that's true. And men are stepping up to be more emotionally aware. You might be surprised how the herpes talk will tend to weed out the kind of person who will judge you regardless of what you have and keep the people in your life who are accepting. It's not to say that if a potential partner doesn't want to take the risk of getting herpes by having sex with you that they are shallow, close-minded and judgmental. It's saying that how the person reacts to your disclosure, whether it's understanding and compassionate or with biting judgment, that says a lot about the kind of person they are. Which kind of person do you want in your life, whether as a friend or lover? I've had a few disclosures where I have considered it a resounding success because even though we didn't end up having sex, we became super close and deep friends.


Anyway, I went on a little rant there, ;) but does that answer the question for 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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