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Beginning Again

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I was diagnosed with Herpes 4 years ago, when I was 22. I went through a solid year of transformation where I went from feeling disgusting in my own body and not deserving of love - to accepting, forgiving, and loving myself. After a year and a half of my initial diagnosis, I started dating a guy who really showed up for me. I dated a few people during that time, but none of them seemed like appropriate candidates to share such vulnerable information with, so those relationships never got far (literally). But this guy was different. You seem to get a sense of the type of people who could handle such information without running to the door. Finally one night I had "the talk" I had obsessed about for over a year. And he was surprised of course, but took it so incredibly well. That 15 minute conversation and *poof*, my fears were dust. We dated for 2 and a half years. Aside from taking my Acyclovir pill every morning & night, herpes was rarely ever discussed or thought about. I would even FORGET that I had it! I stopped visiting my Herpes forum, and moved on with my life. But then during rough patches in our mostly loving and kind relationship, I would think to myself... "you can't leave him.. he's accepted you for your flaws! ...You'd have to have that scary conversation all over again. He's a good guy. Stay. Make it work."


We finally broke up a few months ago. And I can say it was for the best. We were holding each other back. Also- My ex never got herpes. We didn't use condoms, but I take very good care of myself diet/health wise, and always take my pills, and anytime I didn't feel 100% downstairs, we got creative.


But now I'm here. Soon to be 27. Single. And this is where I'm having trouble: I used to be a very sexual person! I don't mean I wanted sex constantly.. I mean, I EMBRACED my sexuality. I felt sexually FREE. And since I was diagnosed, I feel like I have to stifle that part of myself. And you know what? I MISS IT! I am beautiful, and I'm in the prime of my life!! And yet, I *pause* my sexuality in the beginning, so I can grill a man to figure out if he's trustworthy and kind, or shallow and a scum bag. I don't get to be careless and free and sexy. I have to be smart, and choosy, and critical. I have to decide "Is this someone I can share my deepest darkest secret with?" I look at him and think "could you handle it? Could you really handle it?" I feel like I'm going through my diagnosis again.. I think about what a luxury it was to be able to meet someone and go out on dates with them and then have sex with them, without my mind swirling with dread the whole time wondering when it's the right time to drop the bomb. I miss the fun of dating. Now meeting someone new feels more serious than exciting, and I'm so tired.


Any advice on how to let myself relax again? I'm having a difficult time getting back into the dating swing of things, and craving the freedom I had before getting diagnosed.


I really appreciate any love sent my way. I just need to be reminded that I'm not alone here.


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@Transient_Guest I'm sending love your way and hope you can feel it. You are far from alone.


I'm so glad you were able to move on from a relationship you knew was not right. Having someone accept your genital herpes is not a reason to stay together. Can you imagine someone being reluctant to leave a relationship because they get occasional cold sores on their lips? The disproportionate stigma attached to genital herpes is so unfortunate and frustrating. It causes so much unnecessary pain.


I know when I was first diagnosed, I was fearful that it would kill my sex life, my own sense of my sexual identity, spontaneity, all those things you mentioned. After taking a few months to myself and then putting myself back out there, I found that none of those things had changed much at all. Maybe just a teensy bit in the spontaneity department, but barely a difference.


I disclosed to one person at the very beginning, then took a break, then went back to casual dating and have since disclosed many times. My experience has been that how much someone likes you or how trustworthy they are...maybe those are factors in how they respond...but only a couple of many, many factors. I don't make those types of assumptions anymore. I don't try to guess ahead of time how someone will respond. If I had tried to guess ahead of time, I would have been wrong almost every time so far, to be honest. So I've made a choice to share my info very early, as soon as things get very flirtatious, and then I just let it go. I don't get attached to the outcome. I've been pleasantly surprised by the result. Most people have been very accepting. Nobody has been unkind. I haven't noticed any difference at all in general interest levels before and after diagnosis. Nothing much has changed for me.



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@optimist I really appreciate what you said about not assuming who can handle my news, and sharing early. Just getting out of this relationship has made me miss casual dating and the occasional one-nighter. And I've felt that I can no longer have those things because I have hsv. I'm not ready to jump into another relationship, but I do want to explore and feel free enough to have a FWB situation, if that's what I feel is right.


The stigma for me has made me feel like a slut. (Even though I got it from a man I loved for 4 years, who was dishonest.) And because of that stigma, when I think of having a one night stand I feel extra shameful and undeserving.


So grateful for your response!

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@Transient_Guest Oh, I so understand what you say about being "tired". I've said this before and it can sometimes feel so exhausting but remember you've had success in a disclosure AND a relationship even though it didn't work but you had the courage and self awareness to realise you were worth more than holding onto a non-functioning relationship just because you have herpes. I admire that. @Optimist says great things here and often does. You can still be free and fun and sexual but instead of perhaps seeing it as critical and choosy, perhaps say, in control and savvy. I wish you all the best, I found out my diagnosis nearly twenty years ago at your age. I still struggle but I tell you what, out of my few disclosures, one led to two beautiful little girls who are my world. That keeps things in perspective for me. Have fun! :-)

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