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To disclose or not...

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Okay, so just a little info about what's been going on. I've been seeing a guy since April. We're not official yet. He wants to take things slow, relationship wise, because he was hurt in his past relationship. I'm currently studying abroad for a few weeks right now and we're still talking. About a month ago, I told him that I'm waiting til I get married to have sex. (I got H from oral). He was really surprised, but in the end he said that he's going to respect my decision.


Well, I'm starting to psych myself out. My plan was to tell him that I'm waiting to have sex, see how that goes. And if he took it well (which he did), then I'd disclose my H story with him. I'm really scared to tell him though. I'm at the point where I either need to tell him or I need to back out of this relationship.


I just feel like once I get to a certain point in a relationship and things start to get more physical, I start to feel really insecure and like I'm just going to disappoint the guy I'm seeing. The word "herpes" has such a negative connotation around it and I just hate saying the word out loud. It makes me feel less than. And sad. I guess I don't know what I'm asking in this post here, but any advice would be great.

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So - as HH said, we will tell you to disclose... but only when sex is imminent. Or at least when you know that you are going that direction.


Here's the deal. Right now you see H as this HUGE dealbreaker ... and you are forgetting that there are TONS of dealbreakers out there. AND, it's only a dealbreaker for *some* people.... I personally don't want to date men with non-adult children. But it's not a dealbreaker for all women my age. But I've had men get upset that I don't want to be involved with them because of their kids. It's not personal...just that mine are 27 and 30 and I'm happy not dealing with young kids full time now.


My point is, all relationships have dealbreakers. And every time you get into a new relationship, there's a risk that *something* will come up that is a dealbreaker for the other person. And it doesn't mean that there's anything "wrong" with you.


I also tell people that H will show you a LOT about the other person....HOW they deal with it tells you a lot about them. Obviously he is willing to wait to have sex, and that's a beautiful thing. But if he reacts in an ugly way to disclosure, it's not about YOU, it's about HIM and his ignorance and judgements.


So if you don't tell him, you don't give him the chance to at least get informed and consider where he feels things are with you and whether it's an issue for him or not. And you will never know. And HE will likely be bewildered and hurt if you suddenly break it off with no explanation and you will just "prove" to him that relationships suck and he might as well not bother.


And finally, if you got H from oral sex, you have HSV1. 80% of people already have HSV1 orally and many others have it genitally. So odds are VERY high that he already has it one way or the other. In which case he has the antibodies to it and that gives him some protection..... on top of the genital HSV1 is VERY rarely passed to others, both because so many have the antibodies and because it sheds a LOT less than HSV2.


I'd wait till you get home, and then I'd tell him that you need to talk to him to figure out where you are... if he's really ok with not having sex. If he is, then tell him your story. Make sure you start by telling him that your first concern is starting the relationship with HONESTY ..... tell him your story and then tell him you believe he should have the chance to have the CHOICE about whether you continue.


Sure, you *may* be rejected. But one thing I see and experience a LOT is that partners really appreciate and HONOR that you have taken the risk of telling them, that you have been honest so early on when it would be easy to just pretend it wasn't there. People who have been lied to and hurt especially appreciate this kind of honesty. And if he chooses to move on, it may be that he was already questioning where it was going, it may be that he's a hypochondriac and can't deal with medical risks (which is a hard thing to live with as a partner... believe me!). And if he's ugly about it, well, he's just shown you that he's a dick. Be grateful! LOL


Here's some info that you should read and have handy to show him if he's uninformed.






Handouts + disclosure e-book:


Herpes facts video


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Interesting thing you say about how the person deals with H will tell you a lot about them. Most people aren't "dealing" with reality based H and instead are going off stigma based H.


Herpes is one of those things where how it is framed can change the actual reality of it. The stigma becomes and continues to be a reality because it is a stigma. It is a self perpetuating lie. The ignorant people need to the reality of herpes before they can have freedom to think about it clearly. Otherwise, they are being lied to or mislead by the stigma, so there thoughts on herpes aren't even about actual herpes.

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The reason I say that it tells you a lot about them is that there are a number of things about their character that will come up with disclosure.


** There are those who are willing to be educated, and those who are not.


** You will see how the person handles awkward situations. I can't tell you how many times the person does the disclosure, the other person (hate to say it, but usually it's guys) says it doesn't change a thing, they cuddle with you all night, then once you are out of sight they go into Radio Silence. These are the conflict avoiders. It's not that they are *bad* people... they just don't know how to be HONEST with someone when it means that it may cause upset.... so they just go quiet and disappear... again, longer term, this person may be difficult to live with because conflict never gets discussed and resolved with them.


** You will often find out if the person is into YOU, or if they just wanted to GET INTO you... which is important if you believe the person actually *cares* about you enough to not want to hurt you by leading you on if you are looking for a relationship material partner.


** You will find out where the person gets their information.... their friends, or actual research


** You will find out if they are an anxious/nervous/hypochondriac type of person who may be a perfectly wonderful person but who will be difficult to live with ... with )R without Herpes.


Yes - the stigma causes a lot of the angst ... but for those of us who are looking for relationships, HOW the other person deals with that is much more important than it is in a hook-up where you have nothing invested in the other person. It's in some ways easier to be ok with the risk if you are only having sex once ... but for some the prospect of taking that risk again and again *may* be ok and it *may* be too much for them to deal with.... and in the end, if they are not ok with it, we have to understand that this is their right and I find it understandable ... and... there will always be someone else who will cherish you and not be at all concerned about that risk because they feel that YOU are too precious to break up with over a nuisance skin virus.

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Very interesting points. In someways maybe it's easier to hook-up with the disclosure than it is too have any LTR. That said, it could go the reverse where they get even more comfortable with the fact that you had it as you hang out with them more and more.


And, there might definitely be a difference in how the sexes feel about their partner having herpes for and LTR or hook up. That would be an interesting study- the difference in men and women handle how stigma and herpes affects their relationship choices.


I think you are right that guys might be more afraid, in general.

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@hippyherpy @WCSDancer2010 I think different people assess risk differently, so some people are fine whether it's an LTR or a hookup, some people are more comfortable with the limited risk of a hookup or a series of hookups, some people are more comfortable with taking a risk only for a promising long-term love relationship, some people think they will be comfortable taking a known risk and then find they have anxiety after getting physical, etc. So many different scenarios.


Likewise, among people who are not willing to take a known risk, there's a variety there, too. Some people are conscientious about remaining HSV-, get themselves tested regularly and want to know the status of their partners. Some people have never been tested themselves, maybe even have a history of cold sores, and are perfectly comfortable hooking up in the general population as long as they are ignorant of their partners' status because their anxiety is triggered by known risk, not unknown risk.


Personally, I'm in a casual dating stage of life and not interested in a serious thing, but I'm also not at all interested in one-time hookups (I go more for dating and ongoing FWB situations), so I do find it important to really pay attention to how people react to my disclosures and how they assess risk and I've found it to be pretty fascinating and reassuring. I'm fortunate in that my stage of life allows me to not be particularly attached to the disclosure outcome with any individual, but that doesn't mean I'm not emotionally affected by how things play out after that, after starting a physical relationship, so I do pay close attention, even though my goal is not LTR. So far, my experience has been that most people are fine with the risk, and when someone is not, it's best for me to move on swiftly. Best for both parties.



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@hippyherpy Many people are fearful of contracting HSV and then having to tell future partners. I think for many people, that feels like the biggest risk. This can be based on the stigma and misinformation but can also be related to someone's level of confidence. Someone who already lacks confidence in pursuing partners may consider the prospect of contracting HSV too great a risk for that reason alone.

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The risks are minor but there are still some changes after a diagnosis. I agree with optimist, it's a blow to some people's self esteem and sometimes even pride. Also, those that have autoimmune issues can get hit pretty hard with physical symptoms.


Even those that adjust to the diagnosis still suffer a sort of loss. The freedom to have sex without a warning label. The innocence/naivety that most of us had beforehand. Not a bad thing, considering that's what put most of us in this position to begin with. But a loss nonetheless.

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There's something about using the word risk with herpes that bothers me. So many people have it that I'm really not sure what the real risk is.


A risk is when you put something significant on the line. For the majority of people, herpes has been a non-issue.


I agree with @Optimist and MMissouri ... the definition of "something significant" varies from person to person. And we rarely know a person well enough to be able to be the judge of how a person will define that when it comes to Herpes. It certainly is not our right to make that choice for them. Which is why we disclose. For some, it's a totally insignificant "risk" ... for a few, it would (at least in their current mind) be a fate worse than death to get H. And there's every level in between. Also the "risk" may seem bigger (or not) depending on how they feel about you... if they like you enough, the "risk" may go down (in their mind) exponentially. For others, the disclosure process snaps them out of a hormone induced fog and they realize that they don't see a future with you and they use the disclosure as an excuse to pull back. And while that sucks, it's important to just remember that "risk tolerance" and "risk definition" varies from person to person. That doesn't make them a "bad' person (as long as they are decent about it)... but it *DOES* help you to see who they are more clearly either way :)

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As someone who got it from someone who didn't disclose, I wouldn't label this a "risk" but a fact. You have the virus, that's a fact. I see disclosure as respect for yourself and respect towards the other person to make decisions independently based on this fact. It's more traumatizing to have no idea when the outbreak starts and having to piece together a puzzle. I think it's fair for someone to make their own choice based on the information that is available, especially if it's something that affects their own life and body, don't you? I mean, as grown men and women, we have to make our own decisions and take responsibility for it and all that comes after it.

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I don't think it's a fate worse than death otherwise they wouldn't be having sex casually or they'd make all of their partners show them recent test results.


Considering how many people carry herpes and don't even know it, anyone who is terrified of getting it probably shouldn't be having sex at all. People have to take responsibility for their lifestyles and either recognize that every time they have sex with someone, they are rolling the dice, or if they are terrified of herpes than don't have sex.


In a certain light, since both you and the person don't know how they would react if they got herpes, then neither you or they are in a real position to decide. I think in America everyone wants to live in a perfect bubble, and in Europe they don't seem to care so much about herpes.


I could be wrong but I can't imagine a forum like this existing in Europe.

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@thehippyherpy (funny name by the way), yes, I see your point about sex being a risk every time you do it. But informing them about the virus doesn't neccessarily invoke the reaction of terror. Of course reactions vary but will depend on the person. That is up to them how to feel, as open or as closed-minded they might be about the virus. It doesn't matter where they are from, too. They have the right to know - especially when they ask.


PS: not true about Europeans not caring! We're talking about a life-long virus that affects your sex (and daily) life, no matter how active or inactive it is.

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@hhxoxo I think hippyherpy means that different countries have different views about herpes. Meaning in the U.S. it has a stigma. It is very often used as material for jokes and some people talk about those with herpes as if they are disgusting or dirty. If you read some of the posts here, many people who are diagnosed are very depressed and not sure how to continue on after their diagnosis. I think he means the general attitude of other countries in regards to the herpes virus is different overall. (They may be more mature about it for instance). Does that make sense?

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I mean, how could you possibly say to a person, "I have herpes, now let's have sex (and you might get it)"? It's a nightmare.


Like hippyherpy said.. the virus itself is no big deal. Meaning it's not crippling, disabling, popping pain medicine on a daily basis to get through life kind of "big deal". The statement you made above is what I think people have a harder time with. And that is not the herpes.. it's being vulnerable and putting yourself out there, and hoping you don't get rejected while doing so.


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@MMissouri yea totally understandable, and that's really sad. I've actually been living abroad for so long so maybe my perspective is a bit different. In any case, my current partners are non-American, and all of them (mostly European but also elsewhere) have been concerned about getting any STDs in general. You know, to keep up a freer sex life and for protection of health. My French friend (female) discloses and doesn't seem to have a problem. I haven't disclosed yet since I just got this, but I'm quite sure they will not be too thrilled to learn about this. One thing I do know is that there is a lot of misinformation about the virus and how it's no big deal, which causes it to be spread a lot more easily.

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If it's such a no big deal isn't it better just to take Valtrex, insist on using condoms and put it out of your mind completely? I mean, how could you possibly say to a person, "I have herpes, now let's have sex (and you might get it)"? It's a nightmare.


I do it all the time. Go check out my ladies mans disclosure thread.


Point is that if people are so concerned about STDs, then at the very least they should ask their potential partner about it, and maybe lay off sex all together, because most people don't even know they have herpes. If they really care they should demand that all their potential partners show recent proof in the form

of blood tests for that reason as well.


Even with a recent blood test, you can't really be sure because the person might have had sex in the time between the blood test (like if it was last week), and now.


Instead of assuming everyone is clean. I disclose, unprompted, but I'd be in favor of a disclosure that works like this: don't bring it up if the other person doesn't ask and if they do ask then you tell them. This way you still disclose and it makes everyone more responsible for knowing the facts instead of living in a bubble.

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Point is that if people are so concerned about STDs, then at the very least they should ask their potential partner about it, and maybe lay off sex all together, because most people don't even know they have herpes. If they really care they should demand that all their potential partners show recent proof in the form

of blood tests for that reason as well.


Even with a recent blood test, you can't really be sure because the person might have had sex in the time between the blood test (like if it was last week), and now.


I agree with this. Part of it is lack of education (how many people truly know herpes facts outside of the those that are infected? Not many), but part of it is taking responsibility for your own sexual health (Like you said, waiting the proper amount of time and getting tested with your partner). This is probably going to be taken wrong by quite a few people, but we all know that sex=risk. And without taking the proper steps to make sure that risk is not there, any STD transmitted is the fault of both parties. That's just my opinion.


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@hippyherpy @MMissouri I agree, as well. It's a somewhat different topic though. I agree that there is risk in every sexual encounter. Most people don't know their HPV and HSV status, even if they get regular STI screenings. The only thing I objected to was the idea that risk is too strong a word. I'm of the opinion that it is a risk but it's a risk most people take all the time without realizing it or thinking about it. But we do know our status and a sense of obligation can come with that. It is a known risk rather than an unknown risk.

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I'll just say this about having herpes. Aside frfrom getting HIV, now I have the "big bad" std that everyone is a fraud of and it isn't scary for me at all. I now have a great sense of relief because I'm no longer worried about getting some std that I don't know anything about. I think there is a much lower likely hood of me catching HIV, and after herpes, the other stds aren't really considered much of a big deal.


They should just make an online register for people with herpes and give the other person the option to look their potential partner up.


That would put all the responsibility in the hands of the uninflected person. If they don't care to look up their partners' status than that is their problem.


That being said, most people don't know enough about herpes for that to work in our favor. For now, I'm better at disclosing than something like that.

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