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Feeling confused and unsure how to deal with a disclosure

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So, I got HSV (downstairs, type 1) about 2.5 years ago from a long term boyfriend who never mentioned he had it and never used any protection (silly me for not asking). Dating culture in NYC is pretty terrible, but now with this, I've found it mostly impossible. I've had the majority of guys say "no thanks, I don't want that" which has been a bit traumatic. I even had a guy on our fourth date, who'd just said I was the "woman of his dreams", get mad and ask why I had dropped such a bomb on him so soon... like there was something wrong with me for telling him. This gets old.


So, a few months back, my housemate had broken up with a guy she was seeing who had HSV. She goes to the Gyno and asks if she should get tested in case she'd contracted it, and her doctor says "no, don't worry about it. You likely already had it anyway and it's nothing to worry about". So she comes home and tells me this. I do a bit of research and it appears that it is common for doctors to not test for HSV. Meanwhile both my housemate and my mother tell me they think it's pointless for me to tell people I have the virus, that I'm only going to get hurt and it's not a big deal. I start to feel like maybe it's not a big deal, I start to feel a bit better and put it out of my mind.


Then, a Swedish guy who I met one romantic day many years ago while traveling in Europe randomly contacted me and was coming to the US. He wanted to stay with me a few days before visiting friends. I said, sure. I didn't know if we would have anything in common or like each other in the slightest, but thought it would be nice to see him. He shows up, sparks fly, we spend two great days together and hook up (I'm on Anti-virals and used a condom) but I didn't feel the need to disclose for such an encounter and didn't want to spoil it.


Then he asks if we can spend the next two weeks together while he's in the US. I say hell yes and we spend the next two weeks together. We never discuss STDs, always use condoms. Then one afternoon I thought for a moment about telling him, and he then, out of nowhere made a Herpes joke. I was completely freaked out. Not only because I thought the stigma wasn't so bad in Europe, and the STD rates are crazy high in his country, but he's also a doctor. So, not knowing how to handle all of this, I put it all in the back of my mind and try to enjoy the rest of our time together and don't mention it.


One thing leads to another and I'm spending next month in Europe with him. I've decided I want to be open and honest about the whole thing before I go and have been trying to figure out how best to approach the situation. So about 2 weeks ago, I turn to the internet to look for more information and tips on how to handle a long distance situation such as this.


After quite a lot of research and forum reading, I'm a complete anxiety ridden, confused mess. I'm looking at the information: Herpes is really common, that the vast majority of people who have it don't know they have it, that doctors don't always test for it, that the majority of info from medical sites say it's a minor skin condition with extreme emotional consequences, that the stigma is out of control and unfair..... and if I don't tell a partner (though at this point we're closer to strangers) that I have it before we have sex, I'm immoral and have made a terrible mistake.


I want to tell this guy...I'm crazy about him... but we're just getting to know each other. I don't understand why every website makes me feel like a terrible person because I didn't disclose before we first had sex. If the transmission rates are really as low as I've read, the chances of him getting it within a few weeks doesn't seem like much. He could also have it and not know, I could get pregnant, we could get in a fatal car accident on the way to dinner... we take these risks daily. I'm not sure why we have such a black and white rule for lives and situations that are anything but.


Am I just deluding myself that this a totally reasonable way to look at it? I have no idea how he will take it, and that's really not the point. The point is, I suddenly feel like I've done something unforgivable and that there's no hope for this relationship, but logically, I think that's not true. Help?






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To follow up, I told my fellow and he didn't care in the slightest. His response was that it was super common and not a big deal. He did thank me for telling him and seemed a bit baffled that I obviously had so much anxiety around the subject. I think I might keep him.

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Read your post and was just gonna try and give you some support but hey... Way to go! You came through and I'm so pleased it worked out! Ok, so it wasn't ideal how things started out but this guy just goes to prove that you're not dealing with a death sentence. Life and love DOES go on. Sorry you had to wade through those other characters before you found this guy. Well done!

That's given me another boost for my disclosure next date. :-)

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Yes, way to go. Definitely the biggest problem is psychological. I don't like the idea of hiding from people that I have a communicable virus but at the same time if it is just casual sex and the person is doing it with other people, the fact that I'm reducing the risk by staying healthy and taking antivirals should make the risk negligible (they are taking a risk by having sex with random people) and not worth bringing up. If it develops into a relationship though, it definitely needs to come out. Congrats on getting that over with!

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  • 4 months later...

@lorie How did you broach the subject, and what did you say? I'm in a similar situation but we've been friends for 12 years, ended up having sex a couple weeks ago. The next day I thought had a small tear and a sore clitoris from the sex. Well, it didn't get better and then I saw the sores starting. Went to the dr. and had a culture. HSV2. Never had any signs or symptoms before this and of course there's no way of knowing if I had it before since standard tests don't include HSV. I'm completely lost on how and when to tell him. I know I need to for the sake of his health. We hung out last night and slept over (nothing sexual happened) and I couldn't get myself to disclose it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thx!

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@rutro0803 Hi, so when you two had sex, you weren't aware you had HSV, correct?

It's always an awkward subject to bring up, but you shouldn't be too worried about it. A possible way is to call or text him and say you have something you want to talk about and set up a time to meet. You could also do it over the phone if a meeting can't happen within a day or two. That way, you're both expecting a conversation to happen. Then I would just say something like "listen, after we had sex I noticed these signs and got it checked out. The doctor confirmed it is HSV2. Here's what he told me.... " (fill him in on the statistics... super common, most people don't know they have it, transmission rates etc.) and tell him you wanted to let him know so he could get checked out too.


When I disclosed in the above situation, I texted him and asked if he had a few minutes to talk, that there was something I needed to talk to him about. Then I FaceTimed him, told him I was nervous and to be patient while I had to tell him something. He calmly listened. I explained that I didn't know I would see him again and we used protection, I was on anti-vitals etc. He immediately said he didn't care and I didn't have to fill him in on the details since he was a GP himself and was familiar with it already. His perspective as a doctor was that it really isn't a big deal. He appreciated that I told him but that was it.


In general, I would try to be straightfoward and calm. For all you know, he could have given it to you. (And if he gets freaked out, you can always mention this fact) As sexually active people we know there are risks and the more candid and open and nonjudgmental we can be, the better. Hope this helps.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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@lorie Thanks. Yeah, at this point I don't know if I've had it and had no s/s for three years (that was my last time I was with someone) or longer or if he had it prior. I'm hoping that if he does have it, he at least didn know he had it I versus just not disclosing it. HSV sure is a pesky, sneaky little virus.

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