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My first post: My positive (and first!) “herpes talk”


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Hello!

 

I know how important it is for all of us to read about positive accounts of the “herpes talk.” I know, because I spent time on this forum just reading everything I could find when I first found out I had it, and those stories helped me become okay with my situation.

 

I’ll start with the back story…

 

When I found out I had herpes I was recently single. My girlfriend and I had broken up about 2 weeks prior to me seeing the symptoms, getting tested, and getting the news that I was positive for HSV 2.

 

I had no idea how I’d gotten it because I hadn’t been with anyone else in the 11 months that my girlfriend and I had been dating (or in the 2 weeks between when we’d broken up and I found out I had it.) I knew that stressing over how I got it wasn’t going to get rid of it though, so I didn’t let it bother me too much (although I did wonder about it quite a bit at first, and occasionally still do.)

 

As far as how I dealt with the news of being positive for herpes, when I found out I had it I was understandably stressed and upset, but not overly so. Since I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time I figured I’d just deal with it as it came up. (I did call my ex and tell her, in case I had somehow given it to her instead of the other way around. I never will know how I got it, or even how long I’ve had it. Maybe I’ve had it for years and never knew.)

 

Anyway, at that point in my life I wasn’t looking for a relationship and just figured I’d deal with the whole herpes thing when I had to and not worry about it now.

 

Fast forward to 6 months later. This was about a week and a half ago. I met a very nice girl. Cute, funny, fun to be around… all that good stuff. And she was looking for a relationship.

 

We got together 4 times in a week and a half and ended up talking every single day since we met.

 

Things were obviously starting to get serious, so when I was over at her place last night I knew I had to have “the talk” then. It was only the second time I’d been there, but things were starting to go the direction of the bedroom, so I couldn’t put it off any longer.

 

By the way, I have to note something here before I go further: I was mostly okay during the 6 months I’d been single with the fact that I have herpes. Or I thought I was. I didn’t think that having it had anything to do with the reason I hadn’t been dating. I thought it was all due to the fact that I wanted to spend some time alone as a single guy because I hadn’t really ever done that for any reasonable length of time. But what I realized when I started seeing this girl was that having herpes HAD been holding me back from dating, even if only a little. I only realized it when I started dating again. What I'm trying to say is that even though I thought I had accepted the condition 100%, I really hadn't. I just didn't know it then. I still had more acceptance to achieve.

 

Back to the story:

 

Last night I was over at her place for only the second time ever (and our fourth time hanging out, although we'd been connecting really well so it felt a lot longer.) I knew I had to tell her, so I sat her down on the couch (we sat cross legged in front of each other), put my hands on her legs, and told her there was something I needed to tell her. She put her hands on mine and listened (she’s a very considerate listener and I appreciate that about her.)

 

I then calmly explained the situation.

 

This is pretty much how it went:

 

“There’s something I have to tell you that I’ve been putting off. It’s the last thing I want to talk about, but it’s necessary. I know you’re a reasonable person, so I expect you’ll take this as well as possible.

 

“I have the herpes virus.

 

“I know there’s an incredibly negative social stigma surrounding it, but in actuality it’s really not such a big deal.”

 

I then went on to explain how common it is, some of the statistics, and how it’s really similar to a cold sore and that for some reason people accept a cold sore when it’s on your lip but not when it’s elsewhere, and how that’s silly.

 

I also explained how, despite the social stigma, it’s not a virus that only people who sleep around get. I told her how I hadn’t had symptoms until after my ex and I had broken up and how I had remained faithful to my ex and had no idea how I’d gotten it, so it wasn’t like I was going around sleeping with a bunch of people.

 

I made sure to pause every few sentences to let her speak in case she had any questions. If she didn’t say anything, I told her a bit more about it until I’d explained the basics, then I asked for her thoughts.

 

She asked me a few questions about it, which I answered. She mostly wanted to know how being in a relationship with someone who had herpes would affect her. I explained that there are lots of couples where one person has it and the other doesn’t. I told her that as long as we avoid intimacy during outbreaks and use protection otherwise, she should be just fine.

 

She also wanted to know how often I had outbreaks. I told her that I have them more than I’d prefer but that it wasn’t all the time, and also that they lessen over time as the immune system learns how to fight off the virus. I also told her that there was medication that would reduce the symptoms and the likelihood of transmission and that I hadn’t looked into it yet, because until now, there had been no need.

 

Then she asked me if I was “having issues” (or however she put it) right now and I told her no.

 

Then she leaned forward and kissed me.

 

And kissed me.

 

And kissed me some more.

 

And I was dying here because she hadn’t told me what she thought about it and if she still wanted to date me, although judging by her actions I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

 

So when we were done kissing I asked her, “So are we still good?”

 

She simply said, “Yes.”

 

Now, I thought I liked her a lot before that, but after she accepted me for who I was, herpes and all, I liked her even more. She understood that having this virus has nothing to do with who I am as a person, which is what attracted her in the first place.

 

We became intimate shortly thereafter, and shortly after that we decided to officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. (As opposed to two people who like each other and have been out on a few dates together.)

 

This was all last night.

 

All in all, my first “herpes talk” couldn’t have gone any better if I’d planned every word, and for that I am incredibly thankful!

 

A few things to note:

 

I consciously avoided the words “breakout,” “transmission,” and anything else that sounded either too medical or scary. Did that have anything to do with her positive decision? Maybe, maybe not. But leaving those words out sure made ME more comfortable during the talk!

 

Also, you may or may not have noticed that at the beginning of the talk I one of the things I said was, “I know you’re a reasonable person, so I expect you’ll take this as well as possible.”

 

There’s a reason for that, and the reason is this:

 

(continued in next post...)

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People often react exactly how you expect them to. Since I expressed to her that I believed that she was a reasonable person and that she would take the news well, she was much more likely to do so. Now, I’m not saying that she couldn’t have rejected me. Not at all. I’m simply saying that by setting her expectations, it was easier for her to remain calm when I gave her the news because I expected her to.

 

The last thing that’s important to note is that during the whole talk I remained calm and collected. I never acted as though getting the herpes virus was something to be ashamed of. It’s just something that IS. It’s just a situation. A virus that I happened to come into contact with. Nothing more. Nothing to be ashamed of. I'm positive that my calmness overflowed to her and that it had a huge impact on how the talk went.

 

I know this was an incredibly long post, so if you’re reading this sentence I'm assuming you’ve read the whole thing. If that’s the case, I want to say THANK YOU!

 

Why am I thanking you?

 

Because I’ve never told anyone about my condition before – this is the first time I’ve ever talked about it to anyone but my ex and my now girlfriend – and I appreciate you listening to what I have to say. It means a lot to be able to pour my heart out like this on a public forum without any fear of negativity and judgment. I'm not afraid of those things because I've read a lot of the posts here and I've seen that the people in this community are genuine, caring, and accepting. There isn't a more supportive group of people anywhere else I've ever seen.

 

So THANK YOU for reading. I truly appreciate it, and I hope my positive account of “the talk” helps you through yours!

 

Sincerely,

Matt M.

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Matt, this is beautiful, bro. You're speaking to everything that the H Opportunity is all about. I LOVE success stories. :)

 

It's clear to me that underneath it all, you have accepted yourself and that was reflected in your disclosure. You were focused on the relationship itself instead of something called herpes. You saw her for her kindness and "reasonability" instead of someone who would possibly judge and reject you. Your self-fulfilling prophecy came true. It's just the other side of the self-fulfilling prophecy that we tend to see: We tend to spend so much time worrying that we'll be rejected that all the energy goes into the energy of rejection instead of fantasizing about going deeper into relationship. ;) You, my friend are going deeper into relationship. And it seems that a big piece of why that is? Because you were already in deep relationship with yourself before you disclosed. And you accepted yourself first.

 

So thank YOU, bro. Count me officially inspired and proud of you. :)

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Adrial and Pacific - Thank you both for your kind words. They mean a lot to me! Seriously, if you could have seen me just a moment ago after reading these two posts, you would have never thought anyone could smile any bigger!

 

And Adrial, keep up the great work here! Your posts and videos are incredibly inspirational. You're doing great things here. :-)

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Matt, when I read posts like yours, I am not surprised, at all, that the disclosure went so well. And I would wager that you, and so many others like you, will go on to have very happy, successful relationships. You resonate strength by virtue of your self-love, your empathy, transparency, and your calm reason. Even if this disclosure did not go well, I have 100% faith that you would carry on with your dignity intact because you are simply that strong.

 

I am also really happy to see such an intelligent, thoughtful post by a guy. I wonder if there are more men out there who hide, afraid to ask questions or communicate because it will undermine conventional notions of masculinity (and this statement is very heteronormative of me, since it ignores the perspective and experiences of gay men - I'm sorry!). Regardless, I really appreciate the diversity of perspective and it's wonderful to read a (straight) guy's experience.

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Fantastic story, Matt! I agree with so much in your post, and I am so glad the talk went so well for you! I really hope others on this forum read your post, and fully understand that how you disclose is huge. I have disclosed three times now, and the first time I was completely consumed with shame but each time after that, I have treated it just like you said...it just IS.

 

I also really agree with one of your side notes that you thought you had 100% accepted having HSV until you started considering dating. I too thought I had completely accepted it until my first disclosure, and then I realized that I did have a long way to go but oddly enough, it actually made me excited to fully begin the accepting process. If anyone reading this hasn't disclosed before (even just to a friend) then I urge you to do so! As Adrial has said before...step into the light :) it is actually liberating.

 

Finally, I also completely agree with what pacific said - even if this talk hadn't gone well, I know just from reading your post that you would have been fine and you will find someone who does handle the situation like a reasonable person, and just loves you for you. I also agree it is extremely refreshing to read such a mature post from a guy :)

 

Congrats on the great talk and on finding an awesome lady! She is lucky to have found you!

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This is why I love this forum: so much support! Thank you all for your kind words. :-)

 

I agree that even if her reaction was negative, I know I would have been disappointed but probably still emotionally intact. (But I'm obviously glad it went the way it did.)

 

And just because I know I would be wondering this, if this were a post made by someone else, I'll mention that my age is 26. So now anyone wondering knows.

 

One last thing I'll add to this story of my experience is that she did some research the next day and found out about the suppressive meds option. She asked me if I would consider getting on them, and of course I agreed to look into it. Well, I had my doctor's appointment this morning and am now the proud new owner of a bottle of blue pills! :P

 

So remember, life is good! Don't let anyone ever tell you it's not. (Especially yourself!)

 

I'll end this post with one of my favorite quotes, by Eleanor Roosevelt:

 

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

 

Those are truly words to live by.

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Hey Matt! Congrats on your first herpes disclosure. I'm so happy it went well! I also had a disclosure that was similar to yours! I like the way you worded everything so accurately. There's the whole social stigma around having herpes but in reality when you look at all the facts it really is a simple skin condition. I honestly believe that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to having herpes. The diagnosis of herpes is an oppurtunity for us to really dig deep and find inner love and acceptance. Which is something EVERYONE needs (herpes or not) to enjoy a healthful relationship. People will react to how we present it to them, so if we explain the facts for what they are most people will be okay with it, and of not that is their loss.

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