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How have you coped?

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Hi everyone


I'd just like to hear how people have coped since diagnosis? I tested positive for HSV 2 around two months ago, after having caught it from a guy I was in a relationship with - he was unaware that he had it. Our relationship didn't work out. I've been down and tearful most days. I feel like I'm carrying a secret. I used to be quite confident with dating, now I have no idea how to approach it. In the past I used online dating sites. I've tried going back to that but I feel like I'm being deceitful and have convinced myself that nobody will be interested, that I'm not good enough. My self esteem has plummeted. I've read all of the stats and understand how common herpes is, that it's part and parcel of being sexually active, but I imagine trying to explain that to someone who's not infected might be quite difficult. And then dealing with any negative judgement that comes along with that!


Anyway, I just wondered how others have coped with this. I know the worst thing I can do is beat myself up and overthink things.. But I can't help myself sometimes. Talking helps, but I've only disclosed to close family members. Whilst they've been supportive, it would be nice to talk to others who are in the same position as me. Also.. If anyone is aware of any support groups within the UK, please let me know. I'd love to meet some people :)

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Hello, @Gemini26!


I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I'll tell you what has helped me, with special attention to a couple areas I see we have in common.


I was also very down and teary after diagnosis which coincided with a breakup. I did talk to close friends and joined this forum. I made an effort to walk out in the sunshine and fresh air as much as possible. I put together a playlist of upbeat music, plugged in my earbuds and walked outside as much as possible. That helped lift my mood.


Like you, I thought I was going to have to give up online dating or at least switch to a dating site that had less of a reputation for hookups. After taking a break for a while, I did try a site more known for traditional dating and it was kind of a disaster. The one guy I went out with was more immediate sex oriented than most of the guys on the hookup-y site. It didn't go anywhere physical so I never disclosed to him.


In the meantime, a couple close male friends shared that they personally would not be bothered by my status and I had a great talk with a single and sexually adventurous HSV+ woman who told me exactly how she discloses and reassured me that it is usually not a big deal and also hasn't resulted in her sex partners having sex with her in an anxious manner. In her experience, most guys are accepting, though some are not, and most choose to ditch condoms when things get serious and monogamous. She said older (middle aged) guys tend to already have dealt with this in previous relationships or have it themselves. All of this was encouraging to me.


A turning point for me was in recognizing that perhaps half of new genital herpes cases are caused by HSV1 via oral sex. This was significant to me because it helped me put transmission risk into perspective. Most adults have HSV1, many have HSV2, so we are taking that risk all the time in having sex. Personally, I've never let a fear of contracting herpes get in the way of kissing or receiving unprotected oral sex. So then why was I having so much anxiety about possibly transmitting this to others through intercourse? I decided to allow people to make that choice for themselves, just as I do. I disclose my status, take antivirals and ask my partners to use condoms (though I would allow them to make this choice for themselves in a monogamous relationship). I'm doing what I can to be responsible. They can choose what risks are acceptable to them. This was a shift from how I initially approached things, basically encouraging people to save themselves from me. You can imagine that attitude did not yield very satisfying results. I pretty much was just setting people free so they could take risks with others of unknown status instead of me.


When I went back to the site more known for hookups, I had a super successful disclosure experience. The guy is in his 20s, so I was concerned he might not have much prior experience with HSV, but his reaction could not have been more reassuring. Because he had previously tested positive for HSV1 (in his case, oral), he was educated about the pervasiveness of HSV and how it is transmitted. He told me he was still very attracted to me, wasn't at all afraid, and very much wanted to move forward. It isn't necessarily a love match but we do have a nice connection and we've been seeing each other since then and HSV has not been an issue at all. That experience really helped build my confidence.


You're welcome to message me if you'd like to chat more about any of these topics. I would be happy to chat with you.


Hang in there! What you're going through right now is normal and probably even necessary from an emotional standpoint. You are grieving. That part will pass. And then you will choose how to approach things moving forward. My own approach has changed a few times just in these months since diagnosis. It's an interesting period of growth. I did cry all the time for the first 10 weeks or so. Now I rarely have a bad day. :)

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Hi @optimist :)


That's exactly what I did. I stopped using dating apps and signed up to a site that I thought had a better reputation for dating. I don't think I'm quite ready for meeting anyone yet though. I somehow manage to convince myself that any guy I start talking to won't accept my diagnosis of herpes. It's the first thing that's on my mind and it puts me off from investing any time in even initiating a conversation. I think I need to give things a break just now until I'm in a better frame of mind. I've been throwing myself into work and exercise.


It's encouraging to hear about that woman's success and yours. I guess I just need to find a way to disclose to others without getting upset about it.. I think that would freak most guys out!! But I think it's the fear of rejection that scares me the most. I wasn't very good at dealing with rejection prior to my diagnosis, so I'm not sure how I'll cope now. I can see myself avoiding getting too close to anyone, so that I don't have to disclose my diagnosis and face that problem. That's not what I want though. I want to be able to enjoy dating without getting myself tied up in knots :(


It's also reassuring to know how common HSV actually is. Unfortunately I didn't know much about herpes until now, so I've had to educate myself. I try and reason that anyone who has ever kissed or had sex is at risk of contracting it so why should I feel so bad about myself for doing the same?


It's hard though! But the support here has been great, it's nice to have an outlet having kept things bottled up for 2 months! I know that I'll come out of this feeling stronger and hopefully it will help build better relationships. But for now I'm just going to take each day as it comes. I will no doubt bombard you with messages or use this forum when I'm at the stage of dating again and freaking out about disclosure! Thank you for replying!! :) X

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