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Worried About Gossip Spreading

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So here's the situation: I was diagnosed with hsv2 a little while ago and I was extremely depressed about it at first but over time I slowly started coming to terms with it. My confidence had really been improving until I recently had an incident with a friend that has made me feel tons of anxiety again.


I just started college and I made a new friend in one of my classes named Jane. We would sit next to each other in class, go to lunch together, study in the library everyday, and talk all the time. I felt like we were getting along really well and that I could talk to her about anything.


Naturally, the subject of relationships came up and Jane wanted to know all about my boyfriend and I. So I opened up to her about all the problems me and my boyfriend were having and how I was feeling like it was a bad relationship. She gave me a lot of really good advice about it and I came to the conclusion that the relationship I had with my boyfriend was toxic and that I needed to break up with him.


However, one of the biggest things that was holding me back from breaking up with my boyfriend was that we were both hsv2 positive. I was terrified of the idea of being single and in the dating world where I might possibly get rejected for having herpes. I was scared that if I broke up with my boyfriend then no one else would want me and I would never be in a relationship again. I did not tell Jane about this factor and so she seemed really confused by why I hadn't broken up with my boyfriend yet when he was obviously so wrong for me.


Weeks went by and she kept pestering me about breaking up with him so much that eventually I admitted to her that I was scared to do it because of the whole herpes situation. She understood but told me the right thing to do would be to end it with him even if we did both have have herpes. It felt good to tell someone about my diagnosis because I hadn't told any friends about it ever and later that week I finally broke up with my boyfriend as well.


But, recently I had a weird encounter with a classmate that has made me worried that Jane might have gone around telling people about my herpes diagnosis.


I was studying with one of my classmates named Alice. We are in the medical field so we were studying about the reproductive system and STDs. We were quizzing each other about a chapter on STDs and so Alice asked me, "What std causes vesicle type lesions?". I replied with the correct answer, "herpes". Then after I answered she said "And you know all about herpes" kinda under her breath before moving on the the next question.


Alice's comment REALLY bothered me but I didn't say anything to her about it and just moved on. But after that incident I couldn't stop thinking about it. Did she say it as a joke? Does she know I have it? How would she know unless Jane told her?


I thought back about my friendship with Jane and how much we would talk and gossip together. I started realizing that Jane likes to gossip about people A LOT. So I started worrying that she may have told people about my situation.


It bothered me so much that I brought up what our classmate had said to me the next time talked to Jane. I flat out asked her if she told Alice my secret and she replied with, "What? Huh? Alice and I don't even talk".


This calmed my anxiety a little but I also kinda had the impression that Jane was lying.


Plus, it became obvious that Jane and Alice do talk and they were friends when the next day they were taking about how often they text each other in class.


So now I'm freaking out that there are rumors spreading around my school about me. I really don't want to become known as the girl at my school with herpes because I feel like the worst thing about this disease is the stigma. I feel so stupid now for telling Jane my secret when I didn't really know her true character.


The anxiety about this keeps me up at night and I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to end my friendship with Jane because I feel so angry that someone I trusted would tell people my secret. But at the same time I'm worried that if Jane and I are on bad terms that she'll be mad and tell even more people about my diagnosis.


I am so upset and I don't know how to face rumors going around my school about me. What if someone confronts me and asks me if I have it? What should I do? Help!





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I'm sorry to hear about your situation @Swellcoffee because it's been a fear of my own. I haven't told my very best friend for a myriad of reasons but predominantly because I don't know that he can be discreet about it and I've heard him say some pretty judgmental things about other people with STDs.


And now it sounds like you feel trapped in a friendship with Jane just like you felt trapped in a toxic relationship with your ex boyfriend. If you feel like Jane is a gossip and told everyone about you, I'd be weary to trust her with personal information again. Consider it a lesson learned and move on. You don't necessarily have to break up with her, but you can pull back.


At this point, if the rumor is out there about you it's out there and there's no way you can undo it. Don't torture yourself over what you shouldn't have done. I'd suggest you arm yourself with information and statistics so you can advocate on your behalf if/when it comes up in conversation again. Being in the medical field will help with that. You can say you've been researching it for class. If someone flat-out asks you, own it with pride. Don't let the rumor mill overpower you.

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This sounds like a form of grade school bullying to me, and at college level, you would think they would be over it.

It's natural to want to confide in a friend, but if your looking for confidentiality, choose someone that you have trusted with other information and never let you down, or seek counseling.

I went thru a similar situation with my ex, I told him when I was diagnosed with hpv...during divorce he told everyone he could to try and hurt me...I blew it off, and kept blowing it off until the gossip settled, I know first hand, it's hurtful.

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Sadly, now that the information is out, what other people do with it is outside of your control. What is within your control, however, is how you respond to the situation. Slowly distance yourself from Alice and Jane, hold your head high, and walk tall.


Brene Brown keeps a very small piece of paper in her wallet with the names of all the people in her life whose opinions matter. I saw an interview once where I think she said there were just eight people on the list. I thought it was a wonderful practice. {{hugs}}

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