Jump to content
  • Want to be a part of a supportive community? Join the H Opp community for free.

    Welcome to the Herpes Opportunity Support Forum! We are a supportive and positive group to help you discover and live your Opportunity. Together, we can shed the shame and embrace vulnerability and true connection. Because who you are is more important than what you have. Get your free e-book and handouts here: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook

Has anyone else's friends reacted this way after telling them about herpes?

Recommended Posts

I've told several of my closest friends about my diagnosis and I'm getting a very strange reaction from about 1/2 of them.


Whenever I get to the part of my story where I say "I always used condoms, so I thought I was safe." I've had the following statements said back to me:

- Really? You didn't know that?

- The condom thing is a myth. That's the first thing they covered in my sex ed.


Whenever I get to the part of my story where I say "I thought my doctor was testing me when he drew blood every year." I've had the following statements said back to me:

- Oh no honey, you have to ask for the test. Didn't you know that?

- Oh see, I ALWAYS ask for the test

- I ALWAYS have a test before sleeping with a new partner and when I get out of a relationship. You don't?


Whenever I get to the point of saying that they need to make sure they are getting the full panel, I've gotten:

- Oh of course!

- I always ask for that


In my head, these are translating to "How could you not know that? I did" and "How could you be so stupid/ignorant?" These are some of my most amazing, loving, understanding friends saying things like this to me so I know they aren't trying to harm me, but it just seems so counterproductive to respond to someone saying "I made a mistake because I didn't know any better" and responding with "I knew better, why didn't you?"


To be fair, I've had the opposite reactions too, like "I didn't know condoms didn't protect you, I'm glad you told me" but I'm specifically curious if anyone else has gotten the above and if you've found a good way to translate these in your head/react when someone says something like this.

Link to comment

hey love! I think your best bet against the sort of "know-it-all" comments is a gentle reminder (to yourself) that this could happen to anyone. Their responses, such as "how could you not know that?" are a form of victim-blaming. It insinuates that somehow if you had known that you could contract herpes while using a condom, you wouldn't have. You didn't make a mistake and you certainly tried to protect yourself the best way you knew how. Herpes doesn't pick and choose. I got that response once after disclosing, but I gently reminded my friend that me contracting herpes WITH a condom had nothing to do with ignorance and everything to do with chance. Let's be honest here, it is not common knowledge that you have to ask your physician for a herpes test. I also would kindly remind them that even a blood test leaves some room for error, which is why many physicians don't offer it up (cultures from sores are much more accurate).


We're not perfect people, we all have to learn these things eventually. I would let them know that their support, not shame, is appreciated right now. You're human and this virus affects 80% of the population in one way or another. If we chastised people for not asking a partner about cold sores before kissing them, we'd look like assholes because so many people get them.


Also, I have no idea where the condom "myth" came from, as they can still reduce transmission depending on the location of your outbreak. I'm particularly fond of female condoms because my sores appear around my vaginal opening, and the mouth of the condom covers that skin! (Still double this with valcyclovir, of course)


Hope that helps <3

Link to comment

Often people who are ignorant of the facts represent themselves as knowing things they don't in fact know. Reality is, if they actually knew these facts, they would likely react with more compassion and understanding of the info presented. Some may even be deflecting the knowledge that they do not get the tests or take precautions they claim to and/or they too have herpes and aren't disclosing. Either way, don't let the ignorance and "yes of course I know" attitude affect you. YOU know the facts and you will continue to be informed

Link to comment

Another perspective:


While the general population is pretty ignorant about the reality of herpes, it's possible they knew and just "assumed" that everyone knew ... in which case they would be shocked that someone they respect as an educated and informed person wouldn't know. I doubt that they realized that their reaction could be hurtful to you ... if they are truly your friends, they certainly wouldn't want you to feel that way, so perhaps you should mention to them that you were hurt by their reaction, and that you've come to learn that the majority of the population is woefully under-educated about herpes and that they are lucky that they somehow got that info because most learn the hard way thanks to the CDC's policies on non-education and non-testing. If nothing else if they have another friend who is having your experience they will hopefully be a little more aware of their reaction so that someone else doesn't have your experience in the future ;)

Link to comment

Personally an I told you so is pretty crappy from ur friends.


What use is it soon an std test before and after partners can I ask? U should be doing them with ur new partner. Doing it after a partner is too late.


They are really not being supportive and I really feel for you there. Doesn't mean they don't hve good intentions. Sometimes people lend the support they can give not the support you need. It's difficult for some people who are not clued into their authenticity and genuine selves to see that.



Link to comment

The group of friends I am around have a get together 2 times a year and make sure that everyone is reminded of things like this. They remind those new to the group that when having a blood panel that they need to make sure that the Dr knows to test for any and all sexually transmitted diseases. They say "get the regular blood panels for health, but remind them to test for Herpes and STDs." It is simple when you get your exam for say cholesterol to just have them add the others. Not only do you know you are safe or what you have, but you can take and be sure you let others you are with know. And the fact that friends have different reactions? Well, it all depends on how some are raised. I've had everything from "Can I catch that from you by working or going to the restroom after you?" to "Oh hun, if you need a shift covered cause you don't feel good, let me know." People will always react with their guts and mouth before brain.

Link to comment
People will always react with their guts and mouth before brain.


Sadly this is true for many ... especially anyone who has not done any personal growth work or who has lived in a sheltered life and not had exposure to people who are in different life situations. I personally have more compassion for them, because I can't imagine living a life where I have not experienced humanity at all levels... it's made me a better person AND it's made me appreciate how lucky I am to just have a pain-in-the-vagina virus and not something much worse ;)


Link to comment

Thanks for all of the comments and insight everyone. I think, in the future, I'll use it as an opportunity to help them be more supportive of others in the future.


I have went back and addressed this with two friends. I made sure and let them know I wasn't upset, but curious as to why they said what they said. Both said something to the effect of "I didn't know what to say and wanted to add to the conversation." Both also admitted that they learned something new also (totally to your point @fitgirl); one didn't realize condoms didn't protect and one went back and started looking to see if he was really getting the full panel tests.

Link to comment


I am glad you followed up and asked them. It was a learning moment for all of you. You learned that people can react in a "defensive" way for a lot of reasons, and in many cases, reactions are based on not knowing what else to say. You have already started to educate those around you by having these conversations and that is how we all need to approach this. Even if it's one person at a time, education has to start somewhere.


I have educated myself on many STD's..... just because we have herpes, the research shouldn't stop there. it's equally important to understand HPV, syphilis, HIV etc since we are just as exposed to those. Becoming an "expert" on herpes is a great start but while you are in the process of educating your peers, the more you know about STD's the more you can pay forward the information! I often talk to my friends and clients (I'm a personal trainer) about STD's, usually I start talking HPV because it is so prevalent (virtually every sexually active person has it if they have slept with 2 or more partners) and once you have it, like herpes, you ALWAYS have it. And, you can pass it on at any time. Soooooooo how is that different from herpes??? Well, it isn't. Genital warts vs genital cold sores - both contagious, both widely spread yet here we are with the "stigma" virus. It makes ZERO sense and it's up to us to change the attitudes of the uninformed.


You have done your friends a favor! And the more you talk about this, the more empowered you will feel about it.


Link to comment

when i told my best friend she responded with "well maybe now youll be more careful with who you sleep with" wow thanks eh! i know it was just a knee-jerk reaction on her part. awhile later we talked more an i educated her. its still a strange subject to talk to with her. my other best friend gets cold sores an shes my rock :)

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Don't feel bad! I've not ever had one friend know this over the course of yrs I've been preaching it... Before I got H that is too. Females seemed shocked by it and a little scared, men... Well... I've had a few strange reactions by men as follows: "Do you have herpes!!??" I ask because how do you know so much!?" They say this very accusatory as well. "Condoms do too provide protection. Why are you even bringing this up?"... I've have been given dirty looks, I have been dismissed and have had anger directed at me, because how dare I ruin their blissful ignorance and have bow forced them to have a conscious about it.


So I am surprised so many say that and like @serendipity515 said, it absolutely is victim shaming and they should be ashamed of themselves. That is also a sense of entitlement and it would never happen to them. Sorry you had to deal w that. I have learned, I will not be telling any other frienda, than whom I've already shared w and it is because half were bad reactions towards me.

Link to comment
I have learned, I will not be telling any other frienda, than whom I've already shared w and it is because half were bad reactions towards me.


I have the opposite view on this - I WELCOME the comments of the jerks and assholes because that shows me who they are and lets me know they are NOT friends or someone I would allow in my inner circle.


That said, I came out to EVERYONE... including all 1000+ of my FB friends and all my "real" friends and never had ONE crappy remark. Part of that is likely that I won't suffer jerks near me anyway so I've culled most of them already ... and a lot I feel is the fact that I made a strong declaration of my status and my resolve to change the way people view Herpes .... and like it or not, most people are lemmings, so when you stand and declare "I have Herpes, I'm fine with it, and I'm here to help others learn more about it", most will just look at you as their new best friend for STD advice... LOL If you tell people you got H and you are ashamed of it, they will treat you like you *should* be ashamed.


Did you see this article that was posted here a few days ago?





Link to comment

Someone who I thought was my childhood beat friend can't even look me in the face. I font speak of it w shame now. I speak very casually, my progress in symptoms improving, my support forums and research I've done. I speak very objectively about it and as weird as it might sound, passionately about it, as I love reading and learning. I don't talk w shame about it like I Dis in the beginning. I have tried to approach her nicely about this and she avoided me, because I wanted to know why she seems to be so bothered by it, but she avoids me. So I ended our 21yr friendship over it. I ended up giving her a piece of my mind and I did say that she was known for being promiscuous and I was conservative about sleeping w people and I got this and she got off scotch free, so don't she dare judge me, cause it could have been her. Her lack of compassion really shows me her true character. How can I be so wrong about someone after 21yrs?

Link to comment

Because her religious/cultural/whatever upbringing taught her that certain things are "proof" of other things ... or because in her ignorance she's confusing HSV with HIV and is convinced that if you touch her she'll get it ... whatever it is, you can't change it and until she is ready to get properly educated about it, she'll believe what she wants to....


I'm just starting to date a guy who basically put it in a nutshell: You can start your life with tons of friends ... but as you get older you will see/experience things about them that will just not work for you any more. You grow up and you grow apart as your belief systems, culture, life experiences, and personal journeys either strengthen or weaken the friendships. And in the end, if you end up with one or two LOYAL friends at our (ie 50's) friends, you've done well ;)

Link to comment

With h I lost a lot of relationships with friends and family. It really shed a light on how unhealthy the relationships were OR how some people flee with adversity.

I super careful who I let into my life now. Before I tolerated a lot for the sake of keeping relationships whether friends or family together. Now I am just too tired to put up with that shit.


People who lack empathy are my biggest pet peeve and I can't tolerate it anymore.


You will find you will weed out those who are unworthy or your trust or compassion and that's a good thing. It's really hard going though the process and realizing and feeling that BUT in the end is better.


I am at the rebuilding stage and my standards are way higher than what they were for those who I let in and for me sometimes it gets lonely BIT in the end I will have stronger relationships.



Link to comment

I REALLY question if those people who claimed to "know better" really did. Honestly, not one person I know of really knows these things about Herpes unless they actually have it and have done the research themselves. Otherwise, how WOULD you know? General society sure isn't putting out accurate information. So I am a bit hesitant to believe them. And like someone said above, if they truly did know easy it is to contract and how widespread it is, why would they be so callous about it?

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...