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new dx & in an open relationship

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Hi all. I had my first outbreak about 4 days ago and was promptly diagnosed with genital herpes (still waiting for the culture to come back to be sure about 1 or 2). I'm in an open relationship, and have been for years. As far as I can tell, I caught this from a new partner I had about a month ago, who has had cold sores but wasn't well educated as to the connection between cold sores and herpes. He's having a blood test done anyway, but swears up and down that he has never had genital herpes - I'm inclined to believe him, since that's not uncommon at all. He didn't have a visible cold sore when we were together, so it didn't even occur to me to ask about it.

I'm frustrated because my primary partner is, reasonably, upset and worried about whether he has been exposed. I'm obviously very worried that I could have exposed him and the other partner he has had in the last month to this. I'm feeling very responsible for the situation I've put them both in, and I feel horrible about it. But I also feel like he is blaming me for not being careful enough - the other partner and I used condoms and confirmed that neither of us had ever had any kind of STI before - I didn't even think to ask if he'd ever had a cold sore.

I'm not trying to absolve myself of responsibility; in hindsight, of course, I wish I'd asked about cold sores. I think he has every right to feel upset and hurt, but I don't feel like I am necessarily a villain here. Too careless, too thoughtless in that moment, maybe, but I think I did my best to be safe.

How do you negotiate a partner's hurt feelings and your own feelings of self-blame without tearing yourself apart? Or am I actually much more in the wrong than I give myself credit for?

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Hey there-

I do not think that you need to take on more blame in this situation.  Consider the staggering numbers of people that are HSV1 positive, have never had an outbreak and yet can absolutely still pass on the virus- how can one be absolutely protected against that?  As social creatures who show affection physically, there is very little we can do even with the best intentions.

  I am hsv1 positive, and have been for years.  To this day, I could not tell you how I contracted it.  At the time there was no one in my life who presented with cold sores that I was at all physically involved with-  it could have been a chaste kiss between myself and a friend as we said goodbye one day-  it could have been the guy that stole a kiss out at a club one night.  Whomever it was, I bear them no ill will, especially considering the high probability that they had no idea.  

  Your primary partner's reaction is not exactly unusual, but again, given the high numbers of both hsv1 and hsv2 infections that are asymptomatic in a huge portion of the population I would recommend that he(and you) do more research on herpes and talk to your doctors.  Obviously being supportive through his range of emotions is important-  just as it is equally important that he be open and honest and supportive of you as well. You've found a great resource by coming to this site, I encourage you to use it.  

I wish you luck, and remember that there are many, many people here to help support you.  Cheers!


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