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Seeking advice on how to disclose to a long distance partner

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Hi all,

I am a girl who is in a bit of an interesting situation and would love any input that I can get. I was recently diagnosed (about 2 weeks ago) with genital HSV1 due to a minor outbreak and have not been able to pinpoint when or who may have passed this to me. My gynecologist said that my sexual activity and outbreak didn't line up, so it's most likely that I've been carrying the virus for a while and somehow triggered it a few weeks ago. 

I am now trying to figure out the best time and way to disclose my new status to a long distance partner. We are not in an exclusive relationship, we are friends with benefits and had been seeing each other for about 6 months before he was deployed in June. We are planning on continuing our arrangement when he gets back in December and I am also hoping to potentially start an actual relationship with him. I really care about this guy and have been dreading telling him out of the fear that he won't take the news well and will reject me. It is very possible that I had the HSV during the time that we've been intimate and I just wasn't aware because I hadn't yet had an outbreak. Now that I know, I feel that it is something I need to share with him. I of course want to continue seeing him, but I am scared that this will completely turn him off. 

I have been trying to decide if it's better to tell him now while he's still away or if I should wait to tell him when I see him in a few months. If I tell him now, I figured it would give him the chance to process the information on his own terms and he could take all the time he needs to make a decision on whether he is willing to take the risk of continuing our relationship. It would have to be over text, which I know is not the most ideal (calling or FaceTime are not options as we are not on that sort of level due to how casual our situation is). I had already been planning on having a conversation with him on where he sees us (if he wants to date or just continue being friends with benefits), but I now have this whole other conversation that also needs to take place. I'm sure the best way to disclose is in person, but I'm not sure waiting is a good idea. I don't want him to think that I was hiding this or to get angry that I waited such a long time to say something. I also don't want to be a mood killer and try to have the HSV conversation when our meeting in December would clearly be to hook up. 

I think there's a chance that he will be understanding of my situation, but of course there's no way to be completely sure until I actually disclose. I'm really hoping someone can help me find the best way to break the news because I'm scared of losing him. I want to inform him about HSV and show him that I understand my status without overwhelming him. I know that there's always a chance of transmission, but I want to do whatever I can to keep him as safe as possible and uninfected. This guy is the first person I've ever had real feelings for and could actually see a future with, so the thought of my diagnosis ruining my chances with him is completely devastating. Thank you to anyone who has read this, please let me know your thoughts.

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I was in a similar situation minus the long distance. It was casual and I thought maybe this was a deal breaker, but I decided there was no other option but to tell. 

First make sure you know your facts. With hsv1, its pretty likely you got it from someone with a cold sore on their mouth (not 100% but usually that’s how you get it). When I disclosed, I mentioned that I had some irritation and decided to get it looked at. I then said the results came back as positive for hsv1. Most people don’t know what HSV1 in particular means, so explain.

I said “I had no idea this was possible, maybe you didn’t either, but I guess if someone has a cold sore on their mouth, which is caused by the hsv1 virus, they can transmit it genitally. I think because people think cold sores are no big deal, no one talks about it before oral sex”. Sometimes mentioning that adds a bit of perspective. I discussed a bit about genital herpes, the hsv2 and hsv1 strains and a little bit about how nothing is a guarantee but that I’d be willing to do everything I could to keep him safe. I also mentioned that for me, this wasn’t anything life changing. I talked a bit about how I always assumed genital herpes would be completely different because of the stigma, but now living with it I realize that it doesn’t change me as a person AT ALL. 

I also made sure to add in that I was telling him because I cared and that someone did not give me the option to decide. You can even mention that being honest and aware of your diagnosis is actually a good thing for him, because herpes is SO common and most people don’t have symptoms, so sleeping with anyone really almost poses the same risk, especially those who don’t know they have it and may not recognize symptoms. 

To sum that up, be confident. Make sure he knows that it isn’t something that changes you as a person and that you are here for his questions, but be respectful of his decisions. There are lots of stories online about couples who have not transmitted it to each other, it’s possible! 

Also, maybe even ask him to get tested for hsv1. He might already have the virus somewhere! Don’t quote me, but even if he’s had a cold sore before, his body has the antibodies and that makes him contracting it genitally much less likely. 

I hope this helps and good luck!! 

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@LM_93 thank you so much for your advice! I've been really struggling with figuring out what to say, so your outline has really helped. If you don't mind my asking, did you disclose in person or via text and was your disclosure a success? I know texting seems like a bit of a cop out, but I feel it would be better so that he can react and not have to worry about me seeing. This is terrifying enough as it is, but I know that anyone really worth my time will be able to see past this and accept me as I am.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Brown-eyes

you know I just read your story & thought the same thing as Sunshine75!
But if your sure it wasn't him as you said, its still possible he still could have HSV-1.

I'm guessing you have decided to wait & tell him in person, which I do believe is your best option.
It is a scary to disclose, even more when you care about the person, but you are doing the right thing.

I really hope it goes well for you, good luck 🙂



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@Amando thank you for the well wishes! I am definitely still very nervous to tell him, but I know there's no way to avoid it. I wasn't given a choice in the situation that resulted in my diagnosis (it was consensual but I don't know whether the guy knew he was a carrier or not) and I would never take that decision away from someone else even if it means that the relationship may not continue. Of course hoping for the best, but I won't know until the conversation actually takes place!

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Wishing you the best...am in a similar situation and also like GuestLM_93's response...being open and transparent is key....like you, that respect wasn't shown to me and I don't want to do unto someone else what he did to me.  At the end of the day, you will have to respect his decision (like it or not) knowing you can hold your head high and be proud that you did the right thing.


Keep us posted!

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