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Advice about disclosing — feel like I’m living a lie

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I’m looking for advice on how and when to disclose to a new partner. I want to date, but the idea of disclosing and potentially being rejected holds me back. I’m scared to go on dates knowing that my status will be sitting in the back of my mind and I feel like I’m lying to my date by not disclosing and letting them get to know me otherwise. It just doesn’t seem fair to keep this secret to myself, but at the same time don’t want to be like, “hey nice to meet you, by the way I have herpes”. 

I’m honestly just so frustrated that someone gave me herpes without telling me and now I have this responsibility to tell other people about it for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I’m also not looking forward to telling potential partners until I find someone who is okay with my status. I know that having herpes doesn’t define me, but I can’t help but feel like I’m a walking dealbreaker.

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Hi there!

So I've never been the one having to disclose to others since I was on the "receiving end" of HSV. Back in the day, I believe I contracted HSV from my wife asymptomatically since she rarely has any symptoms. 

As you know, its quite hard dealing with contracting the virus without having been informed about it beforehand by your partner. Thus, big thumbs up to you for wanting to disclose to others!

I know that for you its not a question about the willingness to disclose, but about when to disclose.

Lets say you live in a larger city where the dating scene is quite "anonymous", I think you could give it a go disclosing quite early on during dating, i.e. perhaps even sometime before your first (or first couple of) date(s) which may come in handy "filtering out" those people who are not serious about getting to know you. Again, if you are in a larger place and getting to know new people is not that much of a rarity, you could even try different approaches and timings to disclosing, finding one way you are most comfortable with. Again, definitely do disclose before you find its too late! 😃

If you live in a smaller community and you find that a lot of people know each other, hence you want to avoid the wrong people knowing about your condition, then I would perhaps tend to disclose at a later time when there is at least some level of trust between you and your potential other. The tricky part is, however, try to disclose before you become too emotionally attached to the other person, because this might be recipe for heartbreak. 

I have faith that you won't be alone forever! Don't worry 💪💪

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Hi @brown-eyes

I completely understand your concerns and frustrations about disclosing your herpes status to potential partners. It's a situation that many people with herpes can relate to. You're absolutely right; having herpes doesn't define you, and it shouldn't overshadow all the wonderful qualities that make you who you are.

@montereypop provided some excellent insights, especially about the timing of disclosure. It can indeed vary depending on your dating environment and your comfort level. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but finding a balance that works for you is key. My answer to "when do I disclose?" has always been "When you feel you can trust this person with your vulnerability." That's huge. And it goes a long way to being an amazingly helpful filter to help weed out any potential crazies or those in it for the wrong reasons. 

While it might feel daunting to bring up the topic, remember that disclosing your herpes status is a responsible and honest step. It's about letting someone get to know you for who you are, including this part of your life. You're not a walking dealbreaker; you're a person with a lot to offer. And you might be surprised by how often an honest and vulnerable disclosure conversation opens the other person up to be vulnerable themselves, which opens up a whole lot of connection. 

One approach that many find helpful is having a conversation before things get too serious emotionally or physically. This gives both you and your potential partner the space to make informed decisions about your relationship. Honesty and openness can go a long way in building trust. One of my favorites is having a "pre-disclosure" ... here's a quick video on that: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/post/the-pre-disclosure-before-the-talk

And here's a whole slew of other videos I've made that should help answer a lot of the questions you brought up:

Lastly, don't lose hope, for gosh sake! There are people out there who not only will accept you for who you are, but see your deep beauty and say "Ah, I found her! The diamond in the ruff!" 🥳 In other words, it's not herpes that's going to ultimately divorce you from finding love; but your open-hearted vulnerability will be an electromagnet to the kind of man who is ready for a real relationship. Finding the right partner might take time, but when you do, you'll know that they appreciate you for your honesty and the amazing person you are. And that is the stuff that builds true, long-lasting, deep and intimate relationships. 

Stay strong, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have more questions or need support along the way. You're not alone in this journey. 💪😊

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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I think most of us have been where you are and it’s a horrible place to be. Like you, the person who passed it to me denied having it and blatantly lied about it, but we both know what he did. I will never forgive him as had he been honest and open with me, he could have protected me, but he chose not to do that and I live with the consequences. 

Re when to disclose, personally I would wait until you knew you wanted to be with him and you were sure that he would be respectful towards you - regardless of whether he would remain with you or not. 

Unfortunately you may meet people who choose to judge you and leave because of it - and that REALLY hurts, but you will be able to stand tall and know that you did the right thing. There are shitty people out there but there are a lot of kind, compassionate people too. 

I wouldn’t rush into telling anyone once you are not engaging in sex. You owe them nothing and may find after a few dates that you don’t want a sexual relationship with them anyway. 

I think the worst thing about having this is the fear of passing it onto someone we love and knowing the difficulties they will face in this situation if the relationship doesn’t work out. I would be so upset if I put my partner in the position where he had to tell someone else and wait for their judgement. It’s a truly horrible place and ruined my confidence completely. That said I can’t change what I have but I can do all I can to protect him from it and the rest is up to him. 

I would say take your time. Don’t feel pressured into disclosing because they are pushing to have sex. Keep the brakes on until you are sure they will be understanding. At the end of the day, it is only a cold sore in most cases, and all we can do is our best to protect others. 


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