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Feeling sad for myself, dating doesn't get easier


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My ex gave me herpes 7 years ago. He knew he had it, he lied to me when I asked him about his STD status, he didn't take any precautions, and about 10 months into dating I wound up with ghsv1. Totally crushed me. Because he was abusive it took far too long for me to leave that relationship for good. Even though I'm free of him now and have been for years, I'll always carry this shitty "gift" he gave me into any potential new relationship. It's an unpleasant reminder of the freedom and years I lost to him.

When I found myself single with herpes the first time, dating was intimidating because I always knew I would disclose before sex and I also knew that came with a risk of rejection. At first I was a little surprised at how much luck I continued to have. Some men definitely acted differently once they knew I had it though. I could tell who was afraid and who was unbothered. And there was definitely some rejection.

When I wound up single again at 31 at the end of 2020 I decided to take an extended break from dating. I've been dating again off and on since early 2022 and it seems like more and more often my herpes status is becoming an issue to potential partners. I've had more and more men turning me down solely because of it, even if they have the same type of herpes orally.

I've been trying to get into the BDSM community as I'm more interested in that than other sexual relationships. I wrongly thought kinksters would be better educated on things like STDs by virtue of their interest in BDSM. Bad assumption to make. It's a little shocking to me that people engaging in group play, swinging, anonymous sex, etc are both terrified of herpes and also completely uneducated on it. But it seems people in general are just poorly educated on sex, sexuality, and sexual health. So I'm also sad that my limited exposure to kink is probably maxed out, not likely to find any local people who aren't terrified of herpes.

I know I'm missing out on a lot. I can't make the experiences I want to happen a reality because herpes scares away potential play partners. Watching everyone else around me get what they want and need while men are afraid to touch me is really, really hard to deal with. (And yes, I know not everyone is getting what they want/need, but when you're forced into a spectator position because of a choice another person made it can really feel that way.) I know I sound miserable, sad, full of self pity. Because I am. I'm 35, single, have no children, am routinely told I'm attractive enough; but men are afraid of my genitals. To a point that they won't touch me. I'm a deeply sexual person, going years without physical intimacy is getting harder and harder to deal with. Because it's not like one day I'll magically be cured, or healed, or it'll go away. I'm stuck with this for life. And if a cure is ever made it'll be a long, long time from now, probably my twilight years. Long past my good years at least that's for sure.

I wish I could turn off the part of my brain that longs for sex, intimacy, and a partner. Some days I consider stopping some of my HRT so my libido dissipates (had a total hysterectomy due to medical reasons and require HRT for life now). Dating was hard enough before herpes and now it's something that literally prevents me from being with people I want to be with. It prevents me from doing the things I want to do.

I know, I know, the "right" guy won't be bothered. But I'm not meeting those types of people. I'm not guaranteed to ever meet someone who will be OK with it. I could keep meeting great guys that I'd be super compatible with all for them to bounce when I disclose before sex.

I think its really unfair that despite practicing "safe" sex I got herpes in a committed long term relationship and now have to carry the burden of rejection and stigma for the rest of my life. Or as long as I keep torturing by trying to date...

I hate this virus. Scratch that, I don't hate herpes, herpes really isn't a big deal. I hate how society has vilified this virus and everyone who contracts it. 

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Hey @aphelognathus,

I feel you. What a journey you've had, navigating the complex waters of dating and intimacy with HSV. Your frustration and feelings are completely valid. It's especially challenging when facing misconceptions and stigma, even within communities you hoped would be more understanding. (Not to mention that 1 in 5 people in those groups have genital herpes, and 80% of them don't know they have it!) The struggle for sexual and emotional intimacy is real, and it's heartbreaking that herpes becomes a barrier to connecting with potential partners. It's unfair to bear the burden of someone else's actions, and the societal reaction to herpes can be negative. And there are so, so many people who are completely understanding and great about it — a lot more than it might seem at first blush. And yes, navigating rejection (or I like to think if it more as "mismatching") is just part of the process of finding those who you will click with on multiple levels. 

By the way, since you mentioned you have genital HSV-1, recent research (2022) from the University of Washington will help put those transmission fears in perspective, particularly regarding genital HSV-1. Their study found that genital HSV-1 shedding declines significantly within the first year of infection, contrasting sharply with genital HSV-2's shedding patterns. Initially, genital HSV-1 carriers frequently shed the virus, posing a higher transmission risk to partners. However, by 11 months, shedding rates dropped from 12% to 7% of days, and even further to 1.3% after two years, much lower than HSV-2's consistent shedding rate. (In fact, most genital HSV-1 is transmitted oral-to-genital via oral sex; I spoke with Terri Warren about this and she said she hasn't seen any cases of genital-to-genital HSV-1 transmission in her clinic work.) This information might offer some comfort, showing that genital HSV-1's impact can change over time, potentially easing some concerns about transmission. I've also summarized a lot of helpful data to put transmission fears into perspective on the handouts that come with the disclosure ebook. Get them for free here: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook

Remember, there are communities and people out there who understand and accept you, herpes and all. It might take time to find them, but you deserve love and happiness just as much as anyone else. Your resilience and self-awareness are evident, even in the midst of these challenges. Keep advocating for yourself and seeking spaces where you feel seen and supported. You're not alone in this. 

Notes:

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I feel your situation and mine is pretty similar, I'm not afraid of the disease itself, but more about the rejection and the difficulty in finding a new relationship. Since I had the diagnose 1 year ago, I ended with dating, I haven't been with anyone after my ex girlfriend gave me herpes. I can tell I used to have a great sex life, and I felt really good with my masculinity, now, it's all the opposite, I wasn't looking for the love of my life, just having fun, but for me, life changed a lot.

But I don't wanna talk about me, I wanted to say something kind of positive to you: maybe your problem is about how you disclose and make it look like something worst than it is, also, maybe you are disclosing too fast, before having more confidence with the other person, so you can talk and explain the situation. The probabilities of getting it in one protected sexual encounter with you not having an outbreak is very very low, so they should not be worried. Try to read some other topics around here and you will find that even some people have herpes and haven't gave herpes to their partners for years.

 

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