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I have HSV, my partner tested positive this week and broke up with me

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I was diagnosed with HSV a year ago after finding out my partner was cheating on me and had it and lied about it. I’ve been extremely conscientious about telling everyone I have it so they can make an informed choice about dating me. It hasn’t been an issue even once so far. 

Back in August I matched with several people on apps that I was interested in getting to know (I’m poly) and had extensive text exchanges with all of them, or so I thought.

One day about 2 months in, I was looking back through the early texts with this partner for some info he sent me I couldn’t recall details of. I noticed there was no mention of my status or disclosure. I went to the app we matched on to see if I had mentioned it there but I hadn’t. I started to panic. I’ve never not disclosed to someone. I figured I must have said something about it before we had sex the first time because I would never not do that. But I was pretty tipsy our first time and couldn’t remember. I was agonizing about whether or not I had told him. So I brought it up that night when I saw him. I explained I’ve been on meds every day and that none of my other partners had contracted it and that it’s very unlikely I’d give it to him but there was still risk and I apologized profusely for not being it up before because I thought I had. He took it really well and so I thought that was that. 

Until a month ago when I told him I was having really strong feelings for him and was interested in working towards something long term. He freaked out and pulled away. I thought it was commitment phobia but when we talked he told me he was still angry that I hadn’t disclosed to him right away. I told him again how sorry I was and would work hard to earn his trust back in any way I could. 

Fast forward to this week when he tested positive. He ended things saying that his health and connections with others will be forever effected now and he was angry it took me two months to tell him and that he wanted to process this on his own. 

I’m devastated. Not only for losing this person that I could see building a future with, but that I have changed his life forever with my horrible mistake. I’m riddled with guilt and worried he’ll never forgive me. I told him I’d do anything to undo the hurt and pain he’s experiencing and that I hope he can heal and find peace down the line and that I’d give him the space he needs but that I am here to support him in any possible way I can if he wants that. 

If this has happened to you (giving your partner HSV and them leaving you) any words of wisdom?

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I also was told by my doctor that there was a less than 2% chance of passing it to a partner while on acyclovir because the risk is lowered by 50% and women have lower rates of transmitting to men, and even lower when they are asymptomatic (around 3%). So seemingly the odds that he would get it from me were extremely low. Especially because we had sex maybe 10 times over four months. I did ask if he had been tested before and he said yes. So it seems likely it was me and not someone else that passed it on. It just feels so unfair. 

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It kind of happened to me except I am the one who got it from a female partner. She said she didn't know she had it and then tested positive for both HSV1 & 2. She said she never had symptoms. I unfortunately received GHSV1 from her and I have some pretty life altering symptoms. I wanted to believe here but somehow I didn't. I believe she has passed it on before and knew it or suspected it. I felt she down played my getting it and the impact it was going to have just because it wasn't affecting her life.

I chose not to stay in contact with her. I felt angry at here and myself for not getting her tested before. I felt betrayed that she didn't fully grasp the permanent impact on my life and health this was going to have. That she suspected and didn't give me a choice.

Those transmission facts don't mean much to someone who caught HSV. I only had intercourse twice and receptive oral a few times before I got it. I got HSV1 only eventhough she was positive for both and HSV1 is supposed to shed much less than HSV2. Yet here I am with HSV1 and lasting health issues.

I know you didn't intend to pass this on to your partner, but you can't fault him for feeling the way he does. Hopefully, he forgives you for forgetting to disclose but the fact that you were on suppressive therapy and the other stats do matter to him now. 

Unfortunately, this may turn out to be a hard lesson or he may forgive you an decide to stay with you since you both have HSV.  Trust will have to be re-established which may take some time. However,  even after trust has been built back you may face some resentment from him everytime he has symptoms and is reminded of his life pre HSV and how he got it.

I wish you the best moving forward. The first person that you need forgive is yourself. You're human and not perfect. You can do better next time. Best wishes!

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Thank you for your thoughtful and kind reply. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I am lucky in that I have never had symptoms and outside of the burden of disclosure, it has not effected me much. He unfortunately had symptoms, which is why he got tested. I feel so terrible because I believed I was doing everything possible to protect him and yet he still got it.

It’s crazy to me that HSV effects each person so differently. The statistics I’ve read suggest that something around 80% of the population has it and that most people are asymptomatic. But for those who are not, I know it can have a big impact. I don’t fault him for any of his feelings. He has every right to feel betrayed and angry and devastated. And I also wish that our country didn’t stigmatize HSV so much, because that part makes it so much harder when you’re diagnosed. In other countries like Australia, they just assume that everyone is going to end up with it at some point because it’s so prevalent. I wish America did a better job educating people about STIs and that it’s not shameful to have one and that you don’t just get them from sleeping around and being irresponsible. 

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I’ve been there. Gave it to someone I hoped to spend the rest of my life with only to have them reject and hate me for giving it to them. We ceased communicating. It hurt for years.

The only encouraging thing I can say to you is what my doctor said to me 40+ years ago before I had it and the girl I was dating told me she had it. It frightened me. I knew almost nothing about it. I sought his advice. He said to me “It’s your choice but for myself, herpes isn’t a reason I would not have a relationship with someone.” I went with that. Yeah it’s a pain but there are much bigger hurdles to overcome in a relationship than herpes. I think it’s an early test of the strength of the relationship. 

Don’t fret too much. You’ll find someone who loves you enough that something like herpes is nothing more than a trifle. I did. 

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.TThere is a large number of people that primarily have oral HSV1 which doesn't carry thw stigma of genital HSV2. Genital HSV1 infection rates are increasing and although it supposedly shed so much less and few outbreaks it still can affect people much more than just a skin condition. For me it has affected my nervous system and I have various neuropathic symptoms. There is some hope that there will be a vaccine or therapeutic by 2030 or hopefully a little sooner as there are some things being worked on but it has been a very slow process that has taken decades without any real solution. I most likely will be too old to benefit unless some miracle breakthrough comes about. 

I would say give yourself and your friend some time. Love covers over a multitude of sin. So in this case this person may come to realize and be able to accept this situation and accept your explanation of how things happened. It may take a little time for it to happen so give him the space he needs to process things. Maybe he will reach out to you or maybe down the road a little you can reach out to him just to touch base and let him know that you still care and want his forgiveness. That you still want a future that includes him in your life.  It's good to have hope but if after a while there is no softening of his heart then it will be time to move on without him and leave him be. Healthier for you to let go and move forward.

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So, I tried to check in with him after giving him some space to see if he would at least talk with me about things because essentially all he told me last week was that he tested positive and that it was going to impact him in all his connections going forward and that he wanted to work through this on his own. 

He sent me a really angry reply accusing me of implying that he was lying about his results (I had mentioned I was stunned because my dr said there was less than a 2% chance of me passing in on while on meds), which is not what I meant by that at all. He misinterpreted things and didn’t give me a chance to clear anything up and told me not to contact him and then blocked my number and my social media.

I’m devastated. To not have an opportunity to participate in a conversation with him about things, to be so misunderstood and vilified, and then cut off completely feels so awful. I understand his anger in the diagnosis. It’s completely justified. But to see the worst in someone when all they’ve offered you was kindness and compassion around a mistake that they own and apologized for and want to make right is so hurtful. 

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@HeartbrokenPNW I understand how you feel but he is overwhelmed with a combination of anger, sadness, disbelief, worry along with the physical manifestations of HSV. He doesn't see you as a person any longer, he sees you as the source of his now permanent condition. Unfortunately, he cannot see your compassion, your empathy, your kindness or any of the good things about you. He will eventually have to resolve with himself and come to a realization. He will have to figure how to move forward with his life like the rest of us who have HSV. This has been a hard lesson for you but you will overcome and grow as a person. You now understand how important disclosure is at the beginning of a relationship is and that failing to do that at the beginning has consequences even if if was just an innocent mistake. Eventhough we may be asymptomatic we can't forget that we still have the ability to pass this on to someone else and that they deserve the opportunity to decide the risks.  We all make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up over it. You did nothing intentionally malicious. 

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@Seeker1960 Thank you for your reply. And you are right. He’s overwhelmed and can’t see past his own anger. He also chose to continue our sexual relationship after I told him about my status (after we had slept together only a couple times). So at that point, he was informed and made a choice to stay with me. He kept saying he didn’t have a choice in things, but that feels not entirely accurate since at that point he did. And he even acknowledged that he could have made a different choice when we talked a few weeks ago. I think he’s avoiding the feelings of shame on his own side of things by leaning into the blame and anger with me. It’s much easier to be mad at someone else than it is to take accountability for your own actions.  

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It seems I didn't get the full picture from your initial post. HSV doesn't define someone but it can reveal who a person is. In your case you are still a caring, loving, compassionate and considerate who you are. HSV revealed that your former partner probably was not the person you thought he was. You can't change a person no matter how much you try. They are who they show themselves to be. You've probably been saved from going through some emotional trauma that you do need. I am sure that he will figure things out. You will find someone who will accept you just the way you are.

Stay well and be good to yourself. 

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