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I am only 29 and….


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Sorry for the long post but this is my fucked up experience and I hope that at least one person out there can relate to it and understand that it does get easier with time and I know it doesn’t feel like it at first but moving forward and being knowledgeable about HSV is a huge part of how I came to terms with this shitty ass nightmare I walked right into… here we go:

I am a 29 year old man, I have an amazing career (that’s only going up from here) an amazing family and friends, & HSV-2. When I got HSV-2 I had only had 2 partners….

About 7 years ago I went out with a friend (with benefits-we’ll get into that later) to celebrate the weekend on a Friday night like us 22 year olds did back then. The night was pretty normal. We did some shots we drank some drinks and then decided it was time to head home. So, we did. The only problem with this specific night was I went a lot harder than I normally would and I blacked out. I remember getting back to his house and we were in the garage smoking a cigarette. Anything after that we’re little glimpses in and out of consciousness. So I go dark and the next thing I remember is coming back to it and he was trying to have sex with me. I told him to stop. I mean obviously because I was not fully there but he didn’t. (I hate to even say this because it seems like I’m defending him but he was also pretty drunk so I mean your mind/body doesn’t always do what it should do under the influence) then I was back out. I came back to it one last time before I woke up the next morning. And what I felt/saw still is a little uncomfortable to actually talk/write about. I came back to it for the last time until the next morning and he had a knife to my throat and he was fucking me. I immediately once I realized what was going on freaked out. And maybe freaked out isn’t the right word because I immediately tried to push his hand away from me. I mean I knew he liked some kinkier shit but idk maybe we could try it when we aren’t both so fucked up. Then I feel it. Instead of getting a hold of his hand to push the knife away my hand slid down the knife and luckily he let it go and it landed right in front of me so I pushed it away. Then black again. The next thing I knew I was waking up and it was the morning sunshine peaking through the garage door windows. I looked down at my hand and saw the sock that I had worn out the night before tied around my hand. I had to gather myself, gather my thoughts and gather my things to get the fuck out of there. I mean I guess thank you for at least tying my dirty sock around my cut hand so I didn’t bleed out or whatever?? So, I grab my shit and I practically run to my car. My mind is only on getting to that car and getting home. I didn’t even know what I was going to do when I got home but I just knew it’s a safe space and I can figure out and let out my emotions as I tried to piece together what all had happened the night before. I get home and head straight to my room.  At this point in my life I was still living with my parents so I could NOT let them see my hand or how much of a hot mess I was. I go straight to my room to gather myself and my thoughts. And of course I couldn’t remember a damn thing in that moment, So, I decide to go clean up the cut on my hand. Thankfully it wasn’t deep enough to need stitches. I jump in the shower and try to wash away everything that happened the night before and while I was rinsing the soap from my hair with my eyes closed that’s when I saw it. The only two glimpses of what happened last night came flashing back like lightning in a crazy thunderstorm. I had to take a second to wrap my head around what I had just remembered. And by the time I had finished showering I knew exactly what happened. This guy that I trusted full heartedly had not only had a knife to my throat while he was belligerently drunk but I also had told him to stop MULTIPLE times. But he didn’t. He took advantage of me. And the worst part is I didn’t even know Not only if it was only the one time, but if he had used protection, I won’t lie we had, had sex prior to that without protection but for some reason I just felt weird about the whole situation. We didn’t speak for two days. On that second day I realized that when I went to take a # 2 I had excruciating pain. Just to paint a picture (not that you need to imagine it) but for the sake of understanding. I was full body shaking it hurt that bad. At that point I knew something was wrong. But who did I go to, what do I do? I can’t tell my parents about this. I had no clue if it was an STI or if he was being super rough that night and tore something. I didn’t know jack shit. But at the end of the day I had to figure something out or else I was gonna have to quit eating so I didn’t have to endure that pain again because I knew I wouldn’t be able to nor did I want to. 

 

I walked from my bathroom back into my room and I immediately grabbed my phone. I needed to text him to ask him some questions. And honestly I didn’t even expect an answer. But low and behold he replied. I didn’t hesitate one more second I point blank asked him if he had any STI’s and to my surprise he informed me (AFTER) we had unprotected sex that he had herpes. 

 

My brain was all over the place. I didn’t even know what to reply or if I should have, there was so much I wanted to say. I wanted to cuss him out for not disclosing before we did anything. I didn’t even get an opportunity to decide if that was something I was comfortable with or more so how we would work with it and make sure that I didn’t contract it. But I didn’t say one word. And apparently he felt the same way because he didn’t apologize or anything after he informed me. 

 

What next? I had not a clue what to do, who to go to, how to get tested. Like I said I was pretty young I had only had sex with one other person (protected) and I never had a reason to get checked. I finally decided to call my primary doctor and awkwardly explain that I needed to get an STI check and booked the appt. I go into the doctors office and they start the tests and they have to take a cotton swab to my asshole where the sores were. First of all, the most uncomfortable thing ever. My male doctor is now swabbing my blistery sores on my asshole and sending them for testing. Next up was the blood test. And as if I wasn’t already mortified about what had just happened in the room next door the nurse who was drawing the blood could not for the life of her find a vein. So, after she blew the vein in my right arm another nurse came in and did it on the first try on my left arm. They took 5 viles of blood from me to be tested and they said they would be in contact with me with the results in a few days. 

 

And the part we all love to hate. The waiting game. The next day I get a call and they let me know they need to get more blood because they needed to run another test. I’m thinking like damn do I even have another vein for them to extract the blood from after yesterday?? But I go in and they find one. And again they’ll let me know… two days later I get the call that I am diagnosed with HSV-2. I was absolutely crushed. And yes you are more than welcome to call me dramatic or whatever you feel necessary. I understand that it is not technically  curable but you can take medicine to get rid of the OB. But the fact of the matter is I WILL HAVE THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. And it was entirely unwillingly and was not disclosed so I could at least make my own decision and decide if that was a risk I was willing to take. (That is why I ALWAYS disclose EVERY time.)

 

I texted him right away and wouldn’t ya know…the text message shows up green. So, I call him and it goes straight to voicemail, This man instead of owning up to his actions and faults and apologizing or even just being there for me to explain and drop some knowledge on me to oh idk maybe make me feel a little better or inform me of what happens or just any of that just blocked me. As if I couldn’t feel any worse than I already had. I was blackout drunk, I told him to stop, he didn’t. There was no protection used. There was no disclosure to let me know. And I also not only received HSV-2 from him but a lovely cut across the palm of my hand. And the cherry on top…he blocked me. 

 

But of course life must go on, so I hardcore did my research. And the only thing I kept thinking about was how could this happen to me. I had only had sex with one other person and then this guy who isn’t even my boyfriend was a scuzzbag and gave me this. “The gift that just keeps on giving.” From that point on, I didn’t even want to have sex with anyone. I couldn’t fathom even after I would have disclosed this information giving anyone what I have. I know I would feel like the biggest jerk off in the world. So, for a couple years I didn’t do anything. No dating, no hook ups, no fwb, absolutely nothing. 

 

The doctors were great though and they gave me so much information including 2 tiny little tid bits of information that a lot more people than I would think have herpes, and they also told me the reason I had to come back in for a second round of blood work was because the strand of herpes as it’s passed on from person to person gets weaker and weaker and they weren’t 100% sure in my first test if it was positive. So they wanted to confirm with a second test, 

 

It took some time but I had to put myself in check and realize that people are going through so much worse out there and all I have to do if I get an OB is pop a couple pills and within a week or so it’s gone. It took a long minute for me to actually come to terms with it and be okay to talk about it and just be able to be honest and disclose to any potential significant others, But when I finally did sometimes it went well but I also had to have the mindset that not everyone will be okay with it. The first one was a huge blow to my ego and I didn’t ever want to tell anyone ever again. The rejection and guilt that I felt just tore me apart. But luckily I didn’t give up. And every time I talked to a guy I let him know and tried to educate the best I could so he could have a little more understanding of it. And I ended up since then with two boyfriends who said they were okay with it and just said they wanted to take the necessary precautions to prevent what we could. Also, knowing that there could be a chance they might get it. Andddd well neither of those relationships worked out but for different reasons. 

 

This isn’t a pity party over here but I feel at a disadvantage because as confident as I am in disclosing now I feel like this has 100% affected my dating life/sex life. I used to like sex but now I just worry about if somehow they may get it. And how I would feel if someone got it from me….

 

I am a 29 year old man, I have an amazing career, amazing family and friends, and one unfortunate circumstance led me to having HSV-2. 

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@Matthew-james I am deeply sorry to hear about what you've been through. It takes immense strength and courage to share such a personal experience, and I admire your resilience in dealing with such a traumatic event. No one should ever have to go through what you did, and it's unfortunate that your trust in someone was so egregiously violated.

It's heartening to see how you've educated yourself and others about herpes, and how you've been open and honest with potential partners. Herpes is an incredibly common STI, but the pervasive stigma and misinformation surrounding it can make it difficult to talk about. By sharing your story and knowledge, you're helping to dispel these misconceptions and foster a more open and accepting culture.

It's understandable that this has affected your dating and sex life, but please know that you are not defined by your diagnosis. It may feel like that (especially thanks to our lovely societal stigma around sex), but truly only you get to determine what this means about how you see your sexuality. It's important to remember that herpes does not define who you are as a person or a sexual being.

Consider this reframe: What if your worry about a partner getting herpes is actually your caring about them and wanting them to be as safe as possible? What if you could shift from feeling worried/paranoid into being careful (full of care)? That shifts us from being in our heads (disconnected and fearful) into our hearts, feeling connected with our partner. Yes, there's always a risk, but when your partner decides to take that risk (because you're awesome, duh), then both of you keep an open line of communication about it.

It's worth noting that even in the worst-case scenario if your partner gets herpes, your partner's experience of herpes may differ significantly from your own. Your diagnosis was the result of deceitful actions on the part of someone you trusted, and this understandably colors your perspective on the virus. However, if a future partner decides to take the risk with you, they are doing so with full knowledge and agency, and their experience of herpes may be quite different.

(And FWIW, I have my own version of this — I got herpes from my then-girlfriend who cheated on me over Christmas break with her ex-boyfriend, then had sex with me during her first outbreak when she returned home. Oof. I hated her for it for years. It took a lot for me to move past that, but I have. In fact, I ran into her a few months ago quite randomly. We talked for a bit, hugged and forgave each other with tears in our eyes. A beautiful moment to come out of such deep pain that both of us experienced so many years ago ...)

Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope that by doing so, you help others who may be going through a similar situation. Remember that you are not alone, and that there are people out there who will love and accept you for who you are, herpes and all.

Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content 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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