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Help!! Why do I feel so dirty with herpes? Who will want me?

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I found out that I have herpes about 7 months ago. I've read everything I can get my hands on. Although it is an STD, I understand that it can be very manageable. So why do I feel so dirty and why did I lose all hope and confidence in ever finding someone who will want me?

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Ponce: First, Welcome. You are in the perfect place to work all through this.


The very short answer is: Everything you are feeling is very normal and it's a sad reflection of the public stigma and ignorance around this disease.


The public attitude is that if you get an STD, you are loose, careless, dirty, etc. When in all honesty, between HPV and HSV ALONE (not including all the other STD's) the majority of people will get one or the other (or both) at some point in their life... and pretty much everyone (unless you are both virgins and never date/sleep with another) will at least be exposed to someone with an STD (some just get lucky and don't end up getting it). BUT, people don't really understand that. 80% of the population has HSV and 80% of the DON'T KNOW THEY HAVE IT....


The good news is that you CAN get beyond the feeling of being "dirty" (it's only a feeling.... a belief..... and you can learn to change that way of thinking)... and this is the perfect place to work on that because you will meet many, many people who are further along in their journey and who will help you as you learn to let go of the negative beliefs and embrace yourself as being whole and perfect, even with Herpes. Adrial is AMAZING at helping folks on here learn to love themselves again.


And yes, someone WILL want you. In fact, anyone who doesn't want you because of something that is in all truth a "nuisance skin condition" (that is what the medical community views this as and having lived with it for most of my life, I am in agreement) doesn't deserve to be in your life. Many of us find that herpes actually acts as a filter to help you sort the people who are worthy of your love from those who don't deserve your time.... when you can see it like that, it's really not as bad as it looks right now.


(((HUGS))) - I know many will chime in with their thoughts - but until then, read through the other threads. You will see folks who are where you are, and some who are further along whose journeys will inspire you and give you hope. And know you are in a safe place to rant, ask questions, and just get support as you navigate your Herpes Journey.... :)

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I feel you...I struggled with similar feelings initially (its only been a month)...But the thing to remember is that that you do have a choice in all this. Feeling sexy is a choice you make. I understand that it is hard right now...but it can change with small things. Taking care of yourself...treating your body with the love and care it needs. Dressing up for yourself. Being stylish.. and more importantly from realizing that what makes us attractive are things much deeper than a skin condition. Its all that makes us who we are. And there is great beauty there. Herpes can be a way of moving beyond our fears and insecurities and connecting with our inner beauty...And once you let your light shine no one will be able to resist you!


Big Hug!

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I am new to this site. Reading these posts does help, but I do have to admit that I am nowhere near "feeling ok, forgiveness or acceptance" of having herpes. Maybe after I post my own story and receive some feedback, I will begin to heal emotionally.

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Hey abc!


As everyone has already said, you are not alone. Know that. Not just not alone, but we're with your heart. You have quite the loving community surrounding you right now. How does that feel?


By the way, no one here (except you, maybe) is expecting you to be "over it." The process of healing is just that: A process. There is no set timeline and it's not supposed to look a certain way. I know you want to get it over with quick, but that's not how healing works. The way to reap the most rewards from this process is to be with whatever feelings are coming up without judgment. And the most conducive environment for healing? Love and acceptance. We as your community love and accept you just as you are. And we will continue to do so as your healing process takes you down the path of you doing that for yourself, too.


I'll tell you what ... most of the fears that are manifested because of herpes have always been there in some way. It just took herpes to dig them up and put them on loudspeaker. So, loving yourself and accepting yourself as you notice these thoughts and feelings coming up is super crucial to your healing. You might want to read through our H Opp community guidelines for yourself so you can create similar supportiveness to how you treat yourself.


Here are helpful links to all of the above:






... and here are a whole bunch of previous discussion topics where other forum members bring up similar fears (we told you that you're not alone!) :)














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. 

Helpful resources:

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Ponce44..keep coming here, share your story , maybe it will help someone and let them know they are not alone. I can tell you that in itself made me feel on top of the world. Know that although we dont "know" each other, that you have sisters and brothers here that will hear you, help you and love you. The best way things heal is when it has air to breathe. This place is somewhere where your emotions have that air to breathe. You will find that person, to love you through it, you just have to believe it. Dont let herpes control your life, tell yourself that everyday when youre down about it, i know thats easy to say but you would be surprised by the power of the mind.

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You ask, "So why do I feel so dirty and why did I lose all hope and confidence in ever finding someone who will want me?"


I felt "dirty" because of the stigma. I replaced the stigma with education and true knowledge about H, and have begun to see the reality that I WILL find someone who will want me! I just have to be about the business of being the best version of me ever to walk the planet! That's good for me AND my future man!

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@Ponce44 & @abc123


About feeling like no one will want you and that you're somehow unclean or tarnished, know that everyone feels that way at first. It's part of the first wave of stigma that we inflict on ourselves, fueled by our own initial ignorance about H.


I'll admit to sitting in the bathroom on more than one occasion and staring at my naked self as though I suddenly had grown a barnacle on my lady business. What am I supposed to do with you now, I would say to my vagina. No one's going to want to come over now that the place is dirty...can't you just move out?


The feelings that you have will take time to sort themselves out. Give yourself that time. Most of the time, our crazy, twisted brains will find reasons to find ourselves unworthy. Too short, too tall, not smart enough, not skinny enough, not fit enough, too bald, boobs not big enough...not not not not not....ENOUGH!


Why do you lose all hope and confidence? We stuff a lot of these 'not enoughs' down because we can see how varied the world is and we can see lots of different people with all these 'shortcomings' finding love. (Someone for everyone right?)


What we don't see enough of (in my opinion) is people in a relationship with H shouting about their love from the rooftops. But they're there! Itchy and proud. A tingle in their groins and a tingle in their hearts. :)


As for "feeling ok, forgiveness or acceptance" I fully recommend making friends with your privates again as a fantastic way to start to heal. Grab a mirror! Check things out and I think you'll find that not much has changed. (That was a surprise for me.) In fact, once you get down there, you might find that you're actually quite pleased with yourself. Maybe you've held up well! Maybe you're aging like a fine wine! Give your bits a gentle high-five.


Beyond that, I would challenge you to look deeper into the "dirty" feeling at what might be underneath.


I asked myself if I really felt dirty or if I was worried that others would think I was dirty and having made up my mind that they would, I accepted that their projected view of me must be my reality. I didn't like how out of control that made me feel so I dug deeper.


For me, these feelings were rooted in the idea that if I couldn't sleep with someone right away, (I practice disclosing before dis-clothing) that I wouldn't be able to keep them interested in me. Or that despite getting to know me, once I disclosed, no amount of my awesome would ever weigh more than H on the scale.


FALSE: If you were awesome before the H then as you work through this, chances are, you'll become even more awesome. You'll have been a warrior in an epic battle against your greatest fear, that no one will love you and that you're helpless to do anything against that.


Well let me tell you what people are going to love about you and why they're going to want you in their lives:


1. Because you took a punch to the gut and been low, but you've dusted yourself off and overcome something challenging while so many others haven't faced adversity and you're stronger and more ready to face other challenges. (How sexy is confidence and someone pursuing their goals?!?)


2. Because no one gave you the choice, you're honest and brave and you practice disclosure, demonstrating time and time again what so many people crave from a partner, connection, care and forethought. (Risking you're own feelings in such a raw way for the sake of protecting someone's choice? Declaring that the needs and feelings of this person in front of you are more important than your own...That's a small dose of heroism!)


3. Because you have a new respect for taking care with your new body, managing your outbreaks and maintaining a healthy immune system. (People who take care of themselves are sexy...there might even be new abs involved)


4. Because you practice the care and tenderness in protecting your future partners. You care more deeply for them because you know they care for you enough to overcome their perceptions of H, and they care for you more deeply as they see the dedication you continue to show for their well-being. And when they put their lips on yours, you'll know that however dirty you may have felt, they think you are that much UNDIRTY! And they want to get duurrtty with you. (Hot!)


5. Because you're more in tune with your body, managing stress and watching for outbreak symptoms, you're also more in tune with the pleasures of your body and the pleasures of your partner. (I firmly believe that people healing with H can be fantastic in bed!)


These are just a few. They may seem silly but they're true and weighty because this is an opportunity. H is a tangible, albeit microscopic, source of power and motivation.


Remember, if you're here, if you're reaching out, then you already planted the seeds for healing. I can't wait to see how strong you become!



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@Ponce44, Sorry to hear that! It does hurt, but you are doing the right thing when you tell someone. If they can't handle it, it's because it wasn't meant to be. I just got dumped last Friday by the guy I had been on 6 awesome dates with, the day after I disclosed the virus. He first told me he could never be comfortable touching me or having sex with me and blah blah blah. Then he called it an incompatibility thing, either way it wasn't meant to be. That being said, the way I disclosed most certainly didn't help the situation and I found out just how neurotic he is, which is a definite turn-off. Point is while I didn't see it for a blessing then, I am actually happy that I got dumped ;)

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Sorry you had that experience. Sadly there are a lot of ignorant and self righteous people who will pass judgement on you (pretty much no matter what you do BTW). That is not about you, that is about her.


I have disclosed to most of my regular clients. One older woman replied to part of my conversation about how many people have it saying 'That's what people get for sleeping around". I gently pointed out I've had HSV1 oral since I was 3, and I got the HSV as a late teen...yes, it was a mistake, but I don't "sleep around". Most of my relationships have been 3+ years. My marriage was 20 years. And I pointed out that people have got it from partners in long term relationships because it remains hidden for years, and that many with cold sores are passing it on in long term monogamous relationships because of the misconception that you can't pass it on "down there".


I didn't take her words personally - I just saw it as a chance to EDUCATE. I personally don't care what she thinks about me as a person. I can still do my job well...and maybe if her grandchild comes to her one day with it, she'll be a bit more compassionate.



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