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Difficult Situation With a New Partner with Herpes

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I'm having a difficult situation with a new gf who has has genital herpes 2. She was diagnosed last fall and I'm the first serious relationship she's had since then. She says she got it from an ex-husband.


We met 4 months ago and immediately hit it off. She asked for my number and texted for a date quite a bit, two weeks later we met up again had a wonderful time. We started texting a lot and she expressed a great desire to continue seeing me. We met for another date, had a bit to drink and kissed quite a bit. Our third date we ended up getting naked and having oral sex and very nearly intercourse until I stopped it. This is highly unusual for me. I haven't dated in 8 years because I had my heart broken by someone who had sex with me and then dumped me the next day with no warning. I was sexually abused as a kid and I try to be very careful about trusting someone with sexuality.


The next date she informed me that she has herpes and probably should have told me before our last encounter. I told her about my sexual abuse past and how I like to take it slow and really need to trust for sex. When she told me she had herpes she cried and I put my arm around her and said "I'm not going anywhere". I promised I'd do some reading and study, but told her I really liked her and wanted to continue.


We continued to text, call and generally build what I thought was a great relationship. We were making plans for the future, telling each other how much we liked each other. She told me I was her boyfriend, that she was really falling. I said the same to her.


We continued to be physical, but not having intercourse. I had no condoms and thought we'd be exploring our sexuality together, doing all the things the herpes websites talk about, and getting to really know each other. I invited her to spend the night with me, which I never do but I really liked her. I was extremely affectionate and proud to be with her. We did engage in other sexual behavior, I expressed my sexual desire for her, and showed it to her.


Very quickly, within the first couple of weeks, she started to ask me why we weren't having intercourse. I told her I like to take things slow, and I was really enjoying building our relationship. She soon started expressing frustration and anger that we weren't having intercourse, asking me why I wouldn't 'just take her'. I told her that this finding this amazing relationship was the hard part...we really were falling for each other and any 12 year old could have sex. We did tried to use condoms once but the ones she had were too small and we lost the moment. I went and bought condoms myself, told her we could have sex.


She went away for a weekend with friends with all of our lovey dove feelings, asking for pictures of us to show her friends, etc...... then came back completely changed. We got together when she got back and she sat with her back to me, being distant, not returning texts, etc. She came over to my place and told me that "i make her feel dirty" and every time we are together and I don't 'just take her' she feels rejected.


Within a day she told me she can't keep feeling this way, then stopped communicating altogether. She told me I make her feel bad and she refused to feel bad. She complained that she has to deal with the hsv every single day, constantly reminded of it because she takes medicine, and will not feel bad. I sent her a text and called her to say that I really, really care for her and would like to talk and see her, but she says she was busy and "wasn't up for it that night".


That's the last I've heard from her, now 15 days. I'm completely heartbroken...I was really falling in love with her and she said that she was very much deeply falling for me. What the heck happened here? Can anyone tell me? We had a really beautiful relationship building and now she is simply gone.

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I'm sorry you're going through this. I will start by saying part of me understands where she's coming from...to a point. As women, at least in my experience, we are pretty much bombarded by guys wanting sex. So even other issues aside, it starts to feel weird when you meet a guy who doesn't try to pressure you for sex on the first few dates. Sad but true. So to go from a guy being 100% ready to go, to him not wanting to after disclosure, it can feel like a bit of a rejection. I've had those thoughts about some guys I've dated. But it sounds like she may not be at the point in processing all of this where she can separate sex from building a relationship.


That being said, it sounds like you did everything right in telling her how you were feeling and being honest with her. It's absolutely your right to want to take things slow. You sound like a wonderful guy and she is lucky to have someone so caring and understanding. Hopefully she sees that!! I don't know why she would want to throw everything away when you've told her how you're feeling. If you're the first person she's told since her diagnosis, she may be having trouble seeing that acceptance doesn't necessarily mean sex right away. I hope that given time, she can learn to separate the two.


That's just my guess, there could be more at play. But since there's been some time that's passed since you talked, maybe you can try reaching out and really sit down and have a heart to heart about the situation. Regardless, you need a partner who is willing to respect your wants and needs as well. Good luck!

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Thank you for your thoughtful response.


The think is when we got naked and came close to having intercourse, I'm the one who stopped it.....but we did have oral sex. This was before she disclosed, so I stopped from having sex without even knowing it. She only told me the next time we met up for a date.


So yes, I was really sexually attracted to her, and was just as raring to go in the month to two months after she told me....you know, using our hands, even oral sex. And as I said, I went out and bought condoms (plus I went to get tested for STDs myself because I wanted to make sure not to give her anything).


Thank you again for your response. I'm really torn about contacting her. My last message to her was that I wanted to see her and talk, was so sorry she was hurting and I was hurting too, and all she said was she was busy and not up for it that night.


She knows I wanted to see her and talk to her, and now I'm afraid of bugging her or possibly making her mad. I've had zero contact with her, and expected I'd hear from her in a day or two.



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It can be hard for a woman to separate sex from attraction. She wont feel attractive because you aren't sleeping with her. I had an ex that would only touch me if he was wearing gloves. He worked as a massage therapist and was worried about getting it on his hands. I can tell you the shame I felt everytime he put on gloves was overwhelming. It was why I stopped anything other than straight sex. (Yes I was in antivirals and we used protection.) I had given him this website for information, but I don't know what he found by searching online.

However, knowing your past she should have been as understanding. Sharing your body with someone after a history of sexual abuse takes trust. It is possible that she missed how much it effected YOU in her anxiety over her disclosure. Purely speculation on my part but I bet she discussed it with her girlfriends but didn't reveal your secret because it was personal, so the "help" she got from her friends was skewed. Who knows for sure.

I hope you hear from her and hopefully it all ends well.

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I'm sorry you're suffering, man. I know how you feel. She's feeling rejected as are you. I hope she comes to understand that you're hurt too. Talking and coming together can heal. As labyrinth mentioned, there could be any number of reasons why she is acting the way she is. And her not communicating that to you is hurtful.


All you can do is reach out if that's comfortable for you. It seems like if she were not interested in any resolution, she would not respond at all. Maybe she is looking for you to continue to reach out because she feels wronged. And you making the continued effort would show her that you care. I'm speculating. If you can make space for her, telling her you're there for her if she wants to talk, maybe she will feel comfortable and safe enough to communicate with you.


I hope it goes your way. None of us should feel rejected. But it happens. And it's not because you're a bad person or not desirable. It's because of their choices based on themselves. Not you and who you are. You've been brave and vulnerable in sharing what you've shared with her and with us. And I commend you for it.


Best of everything to you!

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Thank you so much. Tomorrow will be three weeks. I did communicate to her that I was sorry she was hurting and that my heart was hurting too with her pulling away, but she continued to distance and the next day was the last we communicated. The day before I called her and told her that I wanted her to know how much I cared about her.


She just seems so fixated on the actual act of intercourse. She told me that's how "she feels accepted", "why don't you just take me", "every time we are together (not even home alone) and we don't have intercourse she "feels rejected".


Now mind you, I hug her, kiss her, hold her as she falls asleep on my lap in the park, tell her how glad I am to have found her, I kiss her all over her body, give her long back rubs, have oral sex with her. In short, I showed her amazing amounts of attraction and affection, told her how much I cared for her, was so proud to be with her.


I flat out told her we would have sex.


And all she can see is that we didn't have intercourse on the 3 nights we spent together. One I didn't have condoms yet, one she did and we fumbled with it and lost the moment, and the third I had them but it was really late at night and I needed to be up early for work. So three nights together, two with condoms on hand, and 1 of which I told her to put it on me.


All of that leads her to tell me "I make her feel dirty"? I 'reject her"?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey @centem.... Just read your story and it has touched me for many reasons...

Your situation and hers are almost identical to mine a couple of years back. I disclosed to a guy I dated for six months and we never had sex (oral from me to him twice) in all that time... He like you disclosed to me sexual abuse as a child straight after I told him about my HSV2 status. We had a lot of fun together but every time we got close I could literally feel him freeze. I rationalised that it was to do with his past and he would assure me it was and that he was working on it but after a while, I started to feel like it was an excuse.

Our relationship was dying because of this, I wanted sex and he didn't/couldn't and I wanted to help him through it but I had a voice in my head constantly telling me it was because I had herpes. He insisted it wasn't but I felt rejected, unsexy and undesirable.

I do think that there is something that made him feel dirty too with the act of sex as it probably triggered painful sense memory and the two things are a heady mix as they are both situations where you are left "scarred" from a sexual situation where choice has been taken from you. One a lot more horrific than the other though.


This girl sounds like her feelings of rejection have thrown up a protection shield in the form of anger and detachment. You've got to try and see it as less to do with you and more about her own journey and pain. A broken heart is so tough to get over whatever you're dealing with. If you've tried reaching out and you get nothing back, I think you just have to try and move forward with your life and be open to talking to her if she does get in contact. Don't tie yourself to that outcome though.


I wish you all the best in dealing with this. You sound like a great guy but when people have stuff to deal with before they can deal with true love, it is often a blessing in disguise. Keep talking to us here if you need to though.


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Hi @Miji69,


Thank you for sharing your story. It does seem similar in many respects.


6 months was a long time for the relationship you describe. I would think that if I were dating someone wonderful like you and couldn't get myself to be sexual in all that time I would get some couples therapy and really talk.


In my situation we were together only 3 months (forgive me if I am repeating myself here). With our busy lives we'd only spent 3 nights together, one without a condom and one where it didn't fit, and one where it was so late in the evening and I had to work in the morning that it didn't feel like a special time to first have sex.


But we did lot's of other things- oral, manual- kind of finding our way forward as we became more comfortable together. And as I said, I was very sexually attracted to her and went out of my way to show her that. So although I wanted to take it slow- just mostly around the intercourse itself- I was in no way not being sexual with her.


She was the first person I ever invited to sleep over in my place in 10 years. I was so excited and happy that morning that I told her I'd go get her coffee and called my Dad as I walked to the coffee shop to tell him!


For me, the very act of showing her my penis took huge courage. Allowing her to see it and touch it was an act of great trust. And we did get naked and lay with each other, which felt so nice to me that it brought tears to my eyes.


I was absolutely so happy with her.


So this sudden, over a weekend, turning cold. Accusing me of making her feel dirty, really just absolutely caught me off guard...and has hurt me deeply. How in the world could she think that with all the affection and sexual attraction I was showing her? Does she not know what a man falling in love with her looks like?


I don't know, stream on consciousness this morning. It's been over a month now. I'm afraid what will happen to my PTSD if I get in contact with her and again.


Thank you for you thoughtful reply!





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You're welcome @centem. You know, if I were to look back on every time I thought that a guy was "The One", I'd get dizzy! You've got to believe this, this girl wants to keep it moving.. at least for now and I'm telling you that this is happening for her to get out of your way because something that is really meant for you is right around the corner. Getting over the emotions you entrust to someone is so hard but you will. You really really will!

In my humble opinion, contacting her may only lead to more pain. If anything you could try a letter but only if that doesn't mean you tie yourself in knots waiting for a reply.


Best of luck to you :)

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@centern I'm going through something similar with a woman and it's really, really hurtful and difficult. The thing I'm learning is that her distance, lack of empathy, lack of showing understanding and/or compassion has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her, her past (knowing her past as I do) and her inability and/or lack of will to face it. And with those of us with deep wounds from our past, these emotions are especially powerful and that much more difficult to navigate and regulate. So, I feel your pain. I really do. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing all of this with us. I hope you find some solace in the process.


If she's blaming you, if she's saying this process is making her feel dirty, that's on her and not on you. Not to be disrespectful. A woman who truly feels for you, wants to be with you, see's how amazing you are would try to work it out with you. If she's unable or unwilling or both, then how can you move forward? It doesn't give you anything to work with. She's not meeting you half way and that's not fair. It sucks. It's hurtful. I'm sorry you're feeling that. I hope you know, even though we don't know each other, I hope you find peace within yourself with all of this. I hope it gets better. I hope you find the love you deserve. I'm sending you love, man. We all need support and acceptance. You have mine.


Have you talked to a therapist about this? I have mine, and while I'm struggling right now, I know the work I do now will pay dividends. Good luck to you!

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Thank you so much to you @miji69 and @m8kingArt.


Everybody on these boards is so nice and helpful. Even though this whole thing is only related to someone else with herpes, I'm glad that it's of use to to others to talk through this situation.


@m8kingArt she more than said the process is making her feel dirty, she said I make her feel dirty. Which is not a very nice thing to say, especially if you could see how affectionate I was with her and how often I told her I was so happy to have found her.


The more I think about this- and I do about every minute of every day- it seems that she was seeing everything everything through the lens of feeling dirty. Times we spent together walking and holding hands, enjoying each others company, she interpreted as being 'rejected' if we didn't have intercourse. There was a mountain of evidence that I was falling in love with here, a mountain of evidence that I wanted her and that we would be having sex, a mountain of evidence that I absolutely adored her, but all she could feel was that I made her feel dirty and rejected. It absolutely baffled me when she said that; there was nothing about my behavior toward her that communicated that.


I spoke with a good female friend last night who has herpes, and she is completely blown away by this story. She told me she'd NEVER tell a man who she really likes, is introducing to her colleagues, and telling him she's seriously falling for that he has to have sex with her immediately or she feels rejected and dirty. She'd say let's build a relationship and enjoy each other as we feel our way forward.


I don't know if you read the whole story, but the turn was sudden. She left for a weekend with girlfriends asking for pictures of us to show them, we were talking and texting as normal with all the lovey dove stuff, she was sending me pictures of herself having coffee in the morning saying she missed me. But Sunday morning the tone had changed, radically. I was psyched to come see her and asked when she'd get back...she wasn't sure what time. Normally she would have said what time they planned on leaving, I'll text you when we are getting ready, can't wait to see you, etc. But not sure what time was all I got.


That afternoon when I came to see her she was distant, didn't want to lay on the bed and hold each other, sat with her back to me as we got takeout. The next day she didn't want to do a bike ride the next weekend because she had brunch with friends, where normally she would have said "of course! let me see what time I'm having brunch and then we'll ride!".


In other words, it was over by Saturday night that weekend. Something happened and she went into pull away mode.


Anyway, thank you everyone. I hope this story can be of use to those with and without herpes in the years ahead. Such a wonderful community.




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@centern I did actually read the entire story, and thank you again for sharing it! I was trying to make the point, and maybe you've already gotten there, that she made her decision not based on who you are, but on who she is.


As you said, you have a mountain of evidence that shows you care for her and are attracted. Your friend confirmed that she, and most women, would not treat you the way that she has.


If someone called you an a**hole and you know you're not and that they're wrong, would their saying that make you feel like and a**hole? You can't MAKE someone feel a certain way. They make themselves feel a certain way. I've no doubt that she said you make her feel dirty. What I'm saying is that YOU didn't. She made herself feel dirty. And unfortunately you feel like you're the one to blame for her feelings.


Brother, I've been there. I'm there now. I'm working through it and it blows. I'm sorry you're feeling what you feel and suffering. I am hoping you can find the space in your heart to care, love, honor and respect yourself as much as you do her. I could be totally wrong, though it sounds like you might be wondering how you made her feel the way she did and possibly beating yourself up over it. It's causing confusion, sadness, frustration and fear. We have it hard enough and beating ourselves up over things we can't control makes it so much harder.


I'm just sharing what I've learned (and still struggle with) through therapy in hopes it may help. I'm not trying to dictate and I feel bad saying anything at all because I don't want to over step boundaries or pretend I know what you're going through. I simply see similarity in situations and thought process between is. I know it occupies your mind and I hope you have the support around you to have the hurt lessen every day. I wish the best for you and that the healing is gentle and positive.

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@m8kingArt.....Yep, I got what you were saying, and I appreciate it.


Exactly my point too.....I didn't make her feel dirty, I don't have that power. And I didn't feel that way, nor did I act that way. I kissed her all over, massaged her, held her.


You seem very insightful. Yes I am beating myself up over it, and I am very confused and sad.


A theory has popped into my head that she got wasted that Saturday night (it was a beer festival) and had sex with someone. And rather than telling me that, she simply chose the path of making me feel bad and pulling away immediately. Because, obviously, that person wanted to have sex with her so I must think she's dirty. That would explain the sudden shift in tone on Sunday.


Just a theory, but who knows.

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@m8kingArt Oh yea, and I'm looking for a therapist now. As I mentioned, it took a lot for me to share my sexuality with her- I essentially fully trusted her. I don't do that very easily. Haven't dated in 8 years, never have hookups, haven't had sex in 8 years. I don't look for it, don't try to date, don't use dating apps. This was a very big deal for me, and it ended with such hurt and confusion.

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@centern I'm sorry this is causing so much confusion and sadness. You're not deserving of that sort of treatment. By anyone.


Yeah, who knows about the theory you have. She could just be struggling with her own self worth and the relationship with you was a reflection back on her of her own issues that have gone unresolved. If she's not communicating, it's anyone's guess.


Glad you're finding a therapist! Given your history, things like this are easier to move beyond with the right help. It's not easy, just easier. And issues like you just went through are just so much more hurtful and confusing. I'm very sorry that this is going on. Let me know if you need anything.

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@centem. I'm a little late to the thread but as I was reading, I have to agree with you that something happened that weekend that changed her mind. I do agree with other posters that sometimes lack of intercourse leads us to think the person we are with doesn't want to take the risk, however, you did other things. Oral sex? Heck, I think putting your mouth in an area of risk speaks volumes.


She strikes me as selfish. I'm sorry. While she was going on about her feelings about being rejected from lack of intercourse, did she ask if you were comfortable sexually because of your abuse? You seem like a wonderful guy. For a girl to just walk away from that makes me think she's hiding something, and it's not a feeling of rejection. I'm calling BS on this one. Find yourself a better girl hon. You opened up with her after all this time, you can do it again.



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@Mmissouri thanks for your response.


I can say that not once did she ever say the following, or anything similar:


"let's just take it slow and see how you feel"

"I know this must be heavy/intense for you, we can take our time"

"how are you feeling"

"given your history, how are you feeling about sex"

"should we try ______? What feels comfortable for you?"

"What would you feel comfortable doing?"

"Sexuality is part of the relationship but not the whole thing..."

"I understand you don't want to get hsv, I wouldn't either if I were you......we can feel our way forward don't worry"


etc, etc


She never said any of these things, or acted like she thought of any of these things.

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@MMissouri As obvious as that sounds, I didn't really think about this until now. It feels different to actually write that out. Why WOULDN"T a person say those things? I was very cognizant of her issue, but it seems like she had such tunnel vision of needed to have intercourse "in order to feel accepted", that she never considered making me feel accepted.


Thank you for that insight.

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She absolutely should have been saying those things!! I can't help but think of how this story would sound if the roles were reversed. Imagine if you had a sister or close female friend who was dating a guy they were crazy about. And subtract any other issues, but what if she came to you and told you that her guy had been pressuring her to have sex and she wasn't ready for that step. And that he broke up with her and treated her the same way you are being treated because he needed her to have sex with him in order to feel accepted. I have a feeling you would tell your friend to run! (sadly that's a dialog I've encountered far too many times). Pressuring someone into something they are not ready for is never ok...and that shouldn't be overlooked just because in this situation it is the female doing the pressuring. No matter what other outside factors may come into play, a healthy relationship consists of both partners respecting each others boundaries and moving forward at a pace they are both comfortable with. You deserve better...don't ever settle for less!

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Can I just say that this community is awesome?


I'm really wracking my brain, and I can honestly say she never said any of those things or acted that way in bed. Never paused to say "Is this alright" or anything like that.


And @JingleBelle, you are absolutely right. In your role reversal scenario, add in that the boyfriend was telling my female friend/sister that he was really falling for her, waking up thinking of her, texting her every morning with a 'Morning!' and cartoon, checking in throughout the day. Then starts pressuring to have intercourse saying why won't you just f___ me? I don't understand. I need to have intercourse in order to feel accepted.


Something I haven't shared but will right now. I have mentioned that I went out of my way to show her my sexual attraction, and it took a lot of trust for me to be sexual with her, especially showing her my penis and and arousal (that especially)...which I did often. But I also told her that I was saving my sexuality for her- no masturbation. This may sound weird to you, I don't know, but I wanted to keep that special part for her.


Who wouldn't be happy to be developing a wonderful relationship with all the feelings she was communicating? It's a wonderful thing! I remember on our first real date she said "I can't believe someone hasn't come and scooped you up!" And before intercourse became an 'issue' (and only a few dates in) she went out of her way to say that "your my boyfriend" and "I'm not dating anyone else, just want you to know". Really pushing it forward.


I wonder if she is in such a difficult psychological dilemma that she let the "need to be accepted" overwhelm what was obvious right in front of her...a man falling in love with her. Maybe split between the need for holding, hair stroking, walking and holding hands (which she told me many times she absolutely loved) and the whole fixation on intercourse.


I know I get a little wordy, but you all are helping me work this out as I write. Thank you so much!



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