Truth: The majority of people may have some form of herpes (yes, that’s right). According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.7 billion people under age 50 (67%) have HSV-1 infection globally while 417 million people (11%) worldwide have HSV-2 infection. In addition, an estimated 90% of people have been exposed to the virus before age 50. Oh, yeah, and that number is probably higher than that, because herpes isn’t included in the regular STD group, and a lot of people who don’t have symptoms aren’t diagnosed.
However, despite the virus’s prevalence, the stigma around herpes is real – making it difficult, scary and awkward to tell a new partner about your condition. Herpes isn’t a death sentence for your sex life, but you need to let your partner know. Here’s how to tell your potential partner that you have herpes, as comfortably and painlessly as possible.
No matter how undeserved this stigma is, it is incongruous to go straight into your STI status in any case. Starting with a line just like: “I have something I need to share with you, and I hope you will be willing to discuss with me.”
Think about it carefully in your mind and find some way to express your emotion. Try to understand if your partner wants to know in-depth information rather than superficial medical information. Your partner may have some questions, and you want to be able to provide them with accurate, neuro-relaxing information that makes them feel as normal as it really is, so you need to know some facts in advance.
Explain that herpes is far more common than people realize — about 776,000 new infections each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, be prepared to tell your partner if you’re taking medication to control an outbreak of disease, and how Rx can reduce the risk of infection.
Don’t confess to your partner when you get emotional and aroused. Believe me, it’s not a good time. Tell your partner and have a real discussion about your herpes history when you think things may get sexually intimate at some point. Maybe after your second date, maybe you become an exclusive relationship.
No, you may not want to announce this in the middle of a crowded restaurant, or you may not want to do this pillow talk, either. Your disclosure location can be a quiet place where you can speak freely without fear of being heard by others. Conversations can get emotional and distracting, so it’s best to be in a safe, undisturbed place. Maybe it’s in your own home, or theirs — with an easy exit in case one of you feels uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Of course, it’s a nerve-wracking moment, but confidence will help you get things done as smoothly as possible. It’s important to recognize that there are many people who lead a successful and happy life with this virus. Herpes-positive doesn’t mean you’re not lovable. You may be surprised: when you reveal it, they may also reveal that they have herpes. This virus can’t define you. It’s just something you have to live with, and it probably just means taking a pill every day and using protection. Don’t let stigma take the place of everything. You’re not the virus, you don’t choose to infect it.
5. Don’t waste your time on someone don’t deserve
No matter how anachronistic the herpes panic is, it does exist and it may mean that when you tell your partner about your situation, he or she doesn’t respond satisfactorily. Be aware that others may be afraid of viruses, that’s not you! Herpes can also be a natural filter for dating and eliminate those who will not surround you with support and love.
If someone responds negatively or unknowingly, you may not be able to change their mind with information. Let them go. You may be vulnerable at this point, and while you can do your best education your partner, you should not try to convince them that if they get herpes, you will stay. Because if someone responds hurtful or offensive immediately, or they’re intimidated by your diagnosis, they may not be worth your time anyway.