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Introduction and the story of my recent HSV-2 diagnosis


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Hi there, after quietly surfing this site for a few weeks I thought it’s time to introduce myself and to tell the story of my recent HSV-2 diagnosis.

 

But first, thank you, Adrial, Breatheandletgo, and Lelani, for being such positive spirits in this community of broken hearts and self-esteems, and for providing your support and helpful feedback!

 

3 weeks ago I was sitting on cloud 9. I had just met the “man of my dreams”. I had gone through a pretty rough time earlier this year. My long-term boyfriend and I had split up in June, and I immediately started dating a new guy to numb the pain. This new guy wasn’t a big fan of condoms, but assured me that he was tested and safe. He may have mentioned that he gets major cold sores, but he didn’t have any during the time we hung out. I asked him right from the beginning that I wanted him to get tested again, but he was “too busy with work” and kept on postponing it. I left him after a few months because we had a different outlook on life, and kept on looking for Mr Right who crossed my path end of October.

 

We immediately perfectly connected on every level, intellectually, sexually, and culturally. He is someone who plays safe, so we used condoms, and agreed to get rid of them as soon as I get tested again. We had pretty passionate sex, and I got sore. The soreness didn't vanish, and after a few days I went to the doctor because I suspected a UTI or other bacterial infection, which was indeed confirmed, but on top of that the results also revealed that I was HSV-2 positive. I had tested negative as recently as May, and the person to blame was quickly identified (yup, the temporary lover who told me he was safe, he forgot to mention that he got tested the last time about 3 years ago….).

 

So, 2.5 weeks ago, immediately after the positive diagnosis, I had “the talk” with my lover of 3 weeks. I took off work and met him at his place to tell him the news. He reacted fairly cool, and we ended up spending a good deal of the weekend together. It was also my birthday, and I had the feeling he wanted to be nice to me. The same day, he also talked to a close male friend who has genital herpes, who presumably assured him that it’s not “such a big deal”. But he also told me a story that he had left a girl when he was very young because she had herpes and had such bad complications that she had to be hospitalized. I should mention that my lover’s wife died of cancer at a very young age about 1.5 years ago, an event that strongly shaped his personality and behavior. At some point he made the comment that his wife’s disease made him more capable of dealing with imperfections.

 

A few days went by, and the guy I dated over the summer tested positive (what a surprise) and I mentioned to my current lover that I may have caught it from oral sex, because he had no symptoms whatsoever “down there” but occasionally had pretty bad cold sores. That totally freaked him out, because he had gone down on me, and he even joked afterwards about how “sore his tongue was”. While still waiting for his own results he started panicking that he may have caught it from me, and even if he hadn’t that he was not sure if he could really be with me considering the potential of catching the virus. We acknowledged that the innocence of our new romance had vanished, and he realized that rather than being in the honeymoon phase, the phase we were supposed to enjoy right now, he was thrown straight into a situation of having to make serious decisions, aka “ is it worth dating this girl who can make me potentially sick”. We had a very unpleasant conversation over the phone during which he felt bad for being such a hypocrite who on one hand assured me that I was a “wonderful person with or without the virus” but on the other hand was thinking of dumping my ass over it. He also mentioned how uncomfortable he felt due to the passing of his wife to committing to anything serious too quickly. The evening of this argument was certainly the lowest point ever since my diagnosis, which had been a complete roller coaster of emotions already. He ripped a piece of my heart out during this conversation and I began to detach myself from him and this situation, and to see him in a different light.

 

But to make things more complicated, the very next evening he called me and asked me to come over as if nothing has happened, and we spend the most wonderful night together, fooling around in every possible way without having any actual intercourse, and he said things such as how much he liked me and how often he thought about me. So, yesterday, he got his negative results back (what a surprise). Obviously, we are aware that he has to get tested again in a few months to be certain.

 

That’s the limbo I find myself in right now. I have no idea what his decision on our dating situation will be. He is a smart guy and knows the odds. I should mention that I am a scientist, and I obviously immediately decided to go on Valtrex. I read the papers about the odds of transmitting HSV while taking Valtrex and sent him the link (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14702423), and obviously, the statistics are on my side. I should also mention that I have never gotten any blisters or sores, not at the time of the initial infection nor during the soreness a few weeks ago, which turned out to be mostly caused by the bacterial infection. I did get a fever one night, and could feel the tingling, but no blister ever showed up. After the bacterial infection got treated, I feel like “being back to normal” except that I am aware that the virus is circulating around or hiding somewhere …

 

As mentioned, the time since the diagnosis has been an emotional roller coaster and exceptionally challenging. I am at a point in my life where I am looking for a serious relationship, someone to have kids with, and feel that the infection could strongly limit my dating options. Until now, I was a very playful and sexually open person, and I am scared that the infection may limit me in the ways I want to experience and live my sexuality. There are days I think I am doomed. But then there are days where I think “what is all this fuss about??” I don’t even have the typical symptoms? So what? What is everybody freaking out about? Annoying skin condition indeed, that’s all it is!!! One in 4 women have it, and ever since I started talking to close friends about it, I got to learn who some of those 1 in 4 women are, they are gorgeous, sexually active, attractive women like me! All I want is screaming this fact at people who stigmatize herpes for some unknown reason.

 

Oh, and by the way, the guy who gave it to me of course never apologized…

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Angel! Sorry your post got lost in the shuffle and wasn't commented on! I don't want you to feel ignored! :)

 

Any update on this since your original post was a few weeks ago?

 

Regardless, I understand your worry about how having herpes feels like it would somehow hamper your sexual freedom. I'm telling you, even that is BS that your mind and the stigma is making more real than it needs to be. Having herpes will have you be as safe as all of us really try to be in these days of rampant STDs and pregnancy possibilities.

 

There are plenty of ways to have incredibly intimate and passionate sensuality while slowly moving toward safe sex. (Wow, trust me.) I thought I would be confined, but it has turned out very differently. And regardless if you have herpes or not, the journey of love is a confusing yet beautiful one. It's rarely a straight shot. There seems to be this belief that if I didn't have herpes, dating and finding someone would be so much easier. Bullshit. ;) It's just different now. Not better or worse.

 

And if you are meant to be with this guy, then he won't mind a potential skin condition. And if he does mind, nothing against him, but he just wasn't the one for you. Sometimes it can be just that simple. We can make it a whole lot more complicated in our minds (trust me, I've done complicated amazingly well).

 

So stay compassionate to yourself and let it flow how it will. Don't force it any which way. What is meant to be will be. (There's a good reason that's such a cliche.) Much love, Angel.

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Angel, Thank you so much for sharing your story. You write so well and you expressed the thoughts and fears of so many of us. I was diagnosed a year ago (happy anniversary!) but have suspected for almost 10 years (hello denial!). I have had moments just like you - "What's the big deal? Simple skin condition. Pfft" to "Oh my God, no one will ever want to be with me again. I will be single and celibate for the rest of my life!!!!". Adrial is right - this dating thing is fraught with all sorts of issues, of which herpes is just a small part. Your Mr. Wonderful may not have herpes but he has all the baggage from his wife and the cancer. You obviously have the issue of herpes dealt with and are coping the best you can. He, on the other hand, may not have something that he can pass on potentially like herpes, but it will affect any possible relationship far more until he comes to term with it. We all come with "stuff". Ours is just more obvious but not nearly as destructive as some of the emotional baggage some people carry around with them. If anything, this herpes diagnosis makes us stronger, more cautious with our health and the health of our partners and much more accepting of what others may be struggling with. I am hoping that your Mr. Wonderful has had some time to process everything and has come to realize what an amazing woman you obviously are and that a simple skin condition is hardly worth missing out on what you have to offer him. And if he does walk away, then, as Adrial says, he's not the right person and it's okay because the right person is so worth waiting for. :) You deserve amazing!

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Hehe, thanks Adrian! I started to wonder if anybody had actually read my post ;) Thanks, Whoopsidaysi, for your encouraging words and compliments on my writing (English is my second language). So true that everybody comes with “stuff” and this is basically what my update is all about.

 

Shortly after Mr Wonderful got the negative results back and the amazing evening we shared, he started avoiding me. I was devastated thinking that he obviously was too spooked out by the infection to continue dating me. I was pretty puzzled, because it didn’t fit into the picture that a reasonable person like him would react that way. So, after several days of trying to understand the situation and thinking through it a little more, it finally dawned to me that it’s not the infection that spooked him out, but the fact that we grew so close to each other so quickly, and that he probably didn’t feel ready for a relationship. BECAUSE of the infection, I had definitely stepped on the accelerator and said things I would normally not say after a few weeks of dating, such as how important he was to me, and how much potential I saw in us.

 

So, when we FINALLY talked about this on the phone, I told him that I understood what was going on, and he was very relieved that I came to this conclusion myself. He hadn’t had a relationship since his wife passed away, and he admitted that he usually stopped dating girls before things got too serious. He couldn’t quite pin-point down the reasons, but suspected fear of attachment and feelings of guilt, and admitted, it would do him good to see a therapist. I have never dated a widower before, and these were of course things that I was concerned about when we met. He said he really couldn’t tell if he was ready or not to move on, and suggested it would be better if we stopped seeing each other because he was not what I was looking for and that I deserved better.

Not willing to throw the towel quite yet, I told him that I realized my mistake of putting all this pressure on our new romance. I suggested to take a few steps back, and approach our whatever-we-have in a more casual way, without expectations and demands, and to just see where it goes, and he agreed to it. We did not see each other for another week, and I started to suspect that he wasn’t interested after all, but then, a day before I left to go traveling, he came to a party that I had invited him to. He was really kind and told me how much he had missed me. He was with his friend, who told me how he wouldn’t stop talking about me, but how difficult it was for him to open up to somebody new after the painful loss of his wife. We ended up at his place, and had sex the whole night (with condoms) - the first time since this whole tragedy started. So, I guess this is kind of proof that he is not too concerned about the infection…

 

So, in conclusion, everybody comes with stuff, he apparently with more than I do. And while I am a patient person I won’t sit there and wait until Mr Wonderful eventually makes up his mind, so I reactived my account on the dating website where I had signed up in the past (in fact the site where I met him).

 

I have been thinking a lot about how the infection is going to affect my dating behavior. I have a few female friends with herpes who are all very sexually active. One of them is in an open relationship with her husband, and had many lovers over the years. She said that she had gotten rejected only a couple of times, so I am not too concerned about rejection. What I am concerned about is that the infection takes away the silliness and light-heartedness normally surrounding a new dating experience, and adds a layer of seriousness and complexity, like in my case with Mr Wonderful, who I am sure does think about catching the virus and then being “stuck” with me, a situation he does not want to be forced into right now. What it will mean for me is that I don’t see myself sleeping with someone anymore, before I REALLY get to know this person well, and know that I could see myself being in a relationship with this person. Ultimately not a bad thing I guess.

 

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