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Feeling Guilty ... Didn't disclose that I have herpes

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Let me start off by thanking everyone for opinions/comments/suggestions.


I have had herpes for about 11 months now. I got it from a guy that I knew, who I wasn't exactly dating- more like just messing around. The very first time we had sex I knew something was wrong- I was in pain two days after our encounter, and could hardly force myself to go to the bathroom. I noticed two or three white-ish bumps the next morning. One day after that, I could barely walk. I was diagnosed within 6 days of the original encounter.


In any case, I had not had sex since that day.. until two days ago. There is the guy that I work with- I don't know him well... basically just went out to lunch, talked in the office, and hung out this one time. I just started this new position in his department recently, so we have been talking more. Anyways, he called me early Sat morning around 2am asking me if I was busy, I was up, not doing much... so I agreed to go to his house. I get there, and within 20 minutes of me being there he was feeling on me, and our clothes came off. Before I knew it, we had sex and he passed out next to me. Immediately I freaked out. I had not told him about my little "gift", I work with him...and now I have to see him everyday knowing this. I was not on an outbreak to my knowledge, and had started taking Valtrex again only a week before this encounter. We used a condom, which came off when he pulled out. But as far as I know, our sex was protected the entire time. Due to me not having sex in 11 months prior to this encounter, I did bleed a bit during intercourse and there was some blood on the condom. I felt myself multiple times- and I didn't feel any bumps,,,, I looked in the mirror and don't see any where I had my initial breakout, but needless to say I am at home now going crazy.


I feel horribly guilty- and tried to rationalize everything when we woke up the morning after and he told me he actually had a girlfriend that he had hung with before we did what we did. I asked him when the last time he had sex was and he said a few months... anyways, I guess I am not sure whether the Valtrex was working to help prevent transmission since I has only begun it a week prior to this,,,and now I don't know how to look at him again at work. Please help!

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A few logistical pieces first: Condoms lessen the risk of transmission by about 50% (but depending on where your outbreaks normally are, sometimes condoms don't do anything if skin-to-skin contact is made where the site of outbreaks usually occur. Valtrex (or any anti-viral medication) only lessens the risk of transmission by another 50% (You used the word "prevent." Nothing absolutely prevents the risk of spreading herpes.) Even when you're not having an outbreak, there is still about a 10% chance of passing herpes. It's called viral shedding.


And about not disclosing, it sounds like you're racked with guilt, which may actually be a good thing: It shows you have integrity. People who don't have integrity wouldn't care if they didn't tell someone they have herpes. And by the way, integrity doesn't come from not ever fucking up; it comes from continually returning to truth and honesty. By learning from your mistakes. And yes, by not telling him initially, it does heighten the chances of him getting seriously pissed off and feeling betrayed (and maybe not since he didn't bother to introduce the STD conversation himself), but you always have a chance to make things right again by telling the truth. Even if that means him leaving angry and never seeing you again (worst case scenario); at least you followed your integrity and didn't allow the guilt to eat away at you behind the scenes. How to have the conversation? Just be real about why you didn't tell him. I imagine you were scared of rejection. Tell him how horrible you feel by not being honest with him. Feel it when you tell him. Tell him whatever is true to you in the moment, too. Tell him vulnerably from a place of caring about him. And then be wide open to whatever response and emotion he has in response. Allow yourself to hear him and be impacted by what he has to say. That's all you can do. And this seems to me like a big learning lesson for the next time you are in this kind of a position again. Something tells me that telling will be more important than not telling when that time comes based on what you're going through now. But putting yourself through tons of guilt helps no one. Learning from this and moving into the future with more integrity does. Good luck, Domo. Thanks for posting and keep us in the loop about how it goes! We're here for you!

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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Hey Domo,


I can understand your upset! We can miss sex so much that when the opportunity comes, disclosing is the last thing we want to think about. Once things get hot and heavy, we are not thinking straight; and given your post above, I don't know if you have disclosed to anyone yet, that first disclosure may be a hurdle you are still facing. I also understand that you may be concerned about having your H status become general knowledge at work, something most of us would prefer to avoid unless our direct choice.


So, first thing, get off your back! Initiating the sexual health conversation is an equal responsibility. If he has had sex with more than 4 people, statistically he has been exposed to it. He's not too concerned if he didn't ask. So one way you could approach this is "hey we got so hot so fast we overlooked something important. I didn't check in with you on sexual health, and you didn't check in with me." No need to victimise yourself by being the bad guy here, you both stuffed up. Let him have his response to that, it will give you some indication of where he is with it. Then you can share your news: along with Valtrex, condom etc. My doc reckons Valtrex takes a week to work so you're covered. So his chances of contracting it from you are likely to be 10% (shedding time) x .5 for the Valtrex = 5% if your sites of sores at any stage are outside condom territory, or half again if they are not. No guarantees, just what's likely.


It's useful to have some numbers, but also remember the likelihood of exposure, and that 80% of carriers have no idea. Share the responsibility, do not allow him to belittle you in ANY way, take the position of clarification and education, not apology or self belittling. He is as responsible as you are for avoiding the conversation. Then as always, you will do best in caring for yourself if you are ok with whatever response he has. If you need to, practise your conversation in front of a mirror: this is often more useful than even practising with a friend, you may want to do both.


It's will be a big growth experience for you, Domo. Adrial is right, the guilt you are feeling is a healthy sign to some extent, but not to beat yourself up with it forever, and not if self criticism is high on your automatic reactions list.

You could preface the whole conversation with requesting confidentiality if you want, I think I would do that too, and that you care about his health and wellbeing otherwise you could continue to avoid the conversation.


Another couple of thoughts I had that may be useful: it's not normal to bleed from intercourse even if you haven't had it for a long time, unless it's part of your cycle-in which case intercourse would be irrelevant. So I'm wondering if you got to intercourse before your body was ready: higher chance of broken skin then, and lower chance of pleasure for you. Just worth noting.


Secondly it's your choice entirely, and being called at 2am for a sex call generally doesn't do much for a woman's self esteem. Both the guy who passed the virus to you, and this one, you mention there's just 'fooling around', for want of a better term, there's no clear demonstration of interest or valuing of you as a person aside from your sexual availability. If you have any self esteem issues, I would lovingly encourage you to work on these first before you get sexual again with a guy. We women are wired to be emotional about sex, it's just how our bodies and nervous systems are. Doesn't mean you can't have a casual thing, but for most of us it takes a lot of maturity to enjoy casual sex without some emotional management. So take this if useful, toss out if not. No judgement here, casual sex and I are not strangers! ......however self esteem is v important for all of life, so love yourself first.


Keep us posted Domo. Give yourself some love for acknowledging the guilt, then let it go. It's fulfilled its purpose. You know what you need to do next, that's its only purpose. Let go of any self denigration, remember it was an equal responsibility, and do the work so that you never have to deal with this situation again. Much love to you.

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Thanks very much lively!


You are entirely correct- I think I am more upset with myself for even bringing myself down enough to go to a mans house at two am as if I didn't know why he called me... I do have some self esteem issues as one stemming from having herpes, and some from other things. Very good suggestions on how to approach him with the info. I am just terrified he will tell people at work :/ there haven't been to many people I have told about my "situation" and I have never let anyone get close enough to me (men) to be able to find out. I appreciate your love and acceptance...I saw him today and he did not say a word, so I was really feeling sorry for myself :/

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Hi again Domo,


I'm glad my post was useful.


You know, I'm having some thoughts on another pathway from the one we've discussed so far. There are patterns in sexual interactions that are common. The pattern of man interested in sex and nothing else + woman who is the same, +/- self esteem issues is one of these common ones; they have sex; man ignores woman after that as he has succeeded in gaining what he wanted + also may not want to lead the woman on in allowing her to assume he wants anything else; woman feels slighted but has lost power if she perceives that she has, as she no longer has novelty sexual value.


This is really important for you to get Domo. It's extremely common, and some would say, normal for any straight male. These are not bad guys! they just want what they are wired to want, don't communicate as women do because they are men, so their way of saying, Thanks, that's it, don't want anything more, don't try to make me your boyfriend, is to keep distance. He may not have lost any respect for you or liking as a co worker, but he is communicating that he wants distance. Don't take this personally, it's how men behave unless they become v conscious. While we women may not like it, I do think it's normal given how men are wired re communication. This is not necessarily a sign of a man who intends to hurt you.


However it does suggest he's a busy guy on the sexual circuit! No guy calls a woman at 2am with "what are you doing?" who doesn't expect to get laid out of it, any guy with insecurity issues wouldn't risk the rejection. So you can bet he's pretty good at seduction. You know yourself you wouldn't have gone to just any guy's house at 2am on a short notice invitation. He's got that IT factor and he knows it. So good luck to him, YOU need to learn how to take care of yourself.


I'm thinking he's been with many many women, doesn't think he needs to be concerned about sexual health if he uses a condom, maybe doesn't even use one if the woman doesn't request it. So there's no doubt he's been exposed and may be a carrier of H. May even know he is.


So now you have another thing to deal with. I totally get your vulnerability with this guy, especially as you've had sex with him, sounds like all on his terms, and now you will run into him at work. I am thinking you need to think v carefully about disclosing to him. I no longer think it's necessarily in your best interests. There's clearly a lot for you to learn in this interaction, and it's not all about disclosure.


There are 2 elements of vulnerability for you here; one being your emotional state around him and the self esteem issues; secondly your concern about public knowledge of your H status. You may feel a responsibility to educate this guy too, we generally take that on around the H Opp. However think this through. There may be no advantage to you in doing this, and considerable disadvantage. This is one of those moments when only you know where you true integrity lies.


If you are feeling AT ALL used by this guy, you must take full responsibility for allowing it, in full knowledge of his agenda. If you are still upset about that, then thank him (mentally!) for bringing it so loudly to your attention that you now know you have issues to work with, and can no longer stay in denial about that.


With respect to H. you could have a little chat with him about the risk you both took in not talking about it. You could even say something like, " I was reading the other day about how H can be passed on even with a condom. Did you know that? " you could have a chat about that without necessarily putting your private business out for possible public consumption here.


I'm interested in what others think about this as an integrity issue. If you are not ready to come out of the cupboard publicly, and at your workplace, I'm not at all sure that disclosure to this guy, who clearly has his own agenda which does not include taking care of you, is your best choice.


So no need to act in a hurry, this is important for your selfworth to look at from all angles. Other regular posters, please let us know your thoughts about this. Best to you Domo, big sister cyberhug to you xx

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Easy, just click on the person's profile name and you'll be taken to their page. Click "send private message" and there you go! Here's a screenshot: http://screencast.com/t/q2RbKOGfZR

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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