Be Upfront Well Before You Have Sex
One of the hardest things about dating with herpes is deciding when to disclose your diagnosis to your partner. Although I generally try not to speak in absolutes, it is always a better idea to do so before you have sex. That way, your partner can make an informed choice about what risks they are and are not comfortable taking.
If you wait to tell your partner that you have herpes until after youve had sex, the revelation may feel like a betrayal. You will have denied them the opportunity to make an informed decision about risk. You may also have implied that your herpes diagnosis is more important than the other things they find attractive about you.
If someone is really interested in you before you tell them you have herpes, they probably will be afterward as well. It just helps to tell them early. That makes it less likely that theyll feel exposed and/or betrayed.
How early? You dont have to do it on the first date. The timing really depends on the people involved. If youre worried about how your partner might react, talk to them about it in a safe place.
You could bring it up over dinner when youre getting near the going home together phase. Or you could have the talk while youre out for a walk, and perhaps a make-out session.
When you do have the talk, its best to be straightforward about it. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
How Do You Tell Someone You Have Herpes
The hardest part may be deciding how to broach the subject. The specific words and phrases you use will obviously be highly individual depending on what kind of relationship youre building. In general, though, dont make a big deal of it. You never knowyour partner may divulge he or she also has herpes. And if they have the same type of the virus as you, they cant get reinfected, Dr. Baldwin says.
You could start the conversation by mentioning cold sores, then move into the subject of genital herpes. You could also start by saying you want to be honest in the relationship, or that you want to discuss safe sex. It can be a very difficult conversation to have, but you should be honest and straightforward, says Dr. Baldwin.
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How Likely Is It That Ill Get Herpes From My Partner
Staying in a relationship where you are negative and they are positive seems like playing with fire.
But theres something to be said for someone who knows they have herpes and knows how to manage it versus someone who has herpes and doesnt know and has never been tested.
Eric M. Garrison, a clinical sexologist, told Primer: When a person living with herpes knows everything about herpes and can comfort themselves and educate their partners, when they can know their prodrome and understand what that means, when they are aware of what can trigger their outbreaks, then sex with them can be less risky than sex with a partner who may or may not know their status.
A herpes prodrome are signs that an outbreak is about to happen. Herpes prodrome include itchiness, tingling, burning, numbness, aches, shooting pains, and other sensations and can appear 30 minutes to a couple of days before an outbreak. When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high.
Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? Obviously yes.
But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? No. Wise? Yes. Likely? No.
That being said, youll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. But you can get it pretty damn close.
There are three ways to reduce the risk of transmission.
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Your Dating Life Is Not Over
If youve recently found out that you have genital herpes, its easy to assume that your dating life is over.
This is a normal, common reaction. Finding out you have a sexually transmitted infection isnt an enjoyable experience, and its completely normal to assume that catching herpes will mean the end of your sexual and romantic life.
The reality, however, is that genital herpes isnt as big of a deal as you think.
First, genital herpes doesnt affect everyone the same way. Many people with genital HSV-1 or HSV-2 have are asymptomatic, or exhibit very mild symptoms that are either mistaken for other skin conditions or go completely unnoticed. Other people only occasionally deal with outbreaks, and some people can get several outbreaks a year.
Our guide to what you can expect from your herpes outbreak frequency goes through every question you might have about it.
Second, even if you do experience herpes outbreaks, try to remember that theyre temporary. Herpes outbreaks can happen frequently or infrequently, depending on the type of virus you have, your immune system and other factors every person is different.
However, the physical symptoms of a herpes outbreak dont stick around for long. Usually, your body will repel the virus and heal within two to three weeks, giving you months in between each outbreak for you to enjoy a normal dating life.
For more information on this, we have a guide to When is it Safe to Kiss Someone After a Cold Sore?
Cold Sores Don’t Have To Control Your Love Life
Dating causes enough stress. Don’t let HSV-1 add to your anxiety.
A few small changes to your routine can make all the difference. By following these seven tips, you can minimize the time a cold sore sticks around and sometimes even prevent an outbreak from occurring in the first place. With the right preparation and tools, you can have a normal dating life.
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Send The Message Before You Have Sex
The conversation needs to happen before having sex and hopefully not in the heat of the moment. Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life With Herpes and spokesperson for Meet People With Herpes, says a great way to lead with the topic is talking about both parties sexual health, and insisting that you both get tested.
Discussing Genital Herpes With Your Partner
Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues. This information will explore ways of feeling more confident in discussing herpes in the context of a sexual relationship.
Cold sores on the mouth and genital herpes are medically the same conditions. The significant difference arises from the stigma that tends to accompany a herpes infection that is sexually transmitted.
Most people find that their partners are both supportive and understanding. It is a common assumption to initially think that a person may base their judgement of you on the fact you have genital herpes. However, for most this is a minor skin infection. People fear the possibility of rejection but the reality of this is that it rarely happens.
Because fear of rejection is a concern, it leads some to question why they should risk talking about herpes. Accordingly, some people choose not to tell. Instead, they abstain during herpes outbreaks, practice safe sex at other times, and hope for the best.
This strategy may have more disadvantages than advantages. First of all, you spend a lot of time and energy worrying that your partner is going to get herpes. Its much harder to tell someone if they just found out theyre infected with herpes. For most people, the anxiety over not telling your partner you have herpes is worse than the telling itself.
If you are able to discuss the situation openly and honestly, you can find imaginative ways to be safely sexually intimate.
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Tips For Dating With Cold Sores
Cold sore sufferers know the truth: a cold sore always pops up at the most inconvenient time. But what should you do when that tingling feeling begins the morning before a date you’ve really been looking forward to?
Don’t panic. Here are seven tips to help you navigate dating with a cold sore and avoid spreading a cold sore to your date.
What To Do When Youre Diagnosed With Herpes
It can be shocking to hear the word herpes in the doctors office. If youre caught off guard or overwhelmed, you may not register what your medical provider is telling you, says Dr. Navya Mysore, family doctor and primary care provider.
Mysore says genital herpes can be caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2. HSV-1 is most commonly related to cold sores, which a large amount of the population have. However, HSV-1 can also be the virus that causes genital herpes and HSV-2 can be the virus that gives you cold sores, she says.
While at the doctors office, dont be afraid to ask all the questions you may have, and make sure you ask for clarification if you dont understand something.
He says herpes outbreak prevention may involve taking a once- or twice-daily antiviral medication, and the treatment of active outbreaks involves topical treatment, an antiviral medication, and sometimes a painkiller. Maintaining a consistent medication schedule is key to successfully managing herpes and preventing active outbreaks, he explains.
Between your appointments, create a list of questions you have about your diagnosis. That way you wont forget anything.
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Avoid Withdrawing From Your Partner
A sudden outbreak can be disappointing, especially if you were looking forward to an intimate evening.
But its important to remember that your worth isnt tied to your diagnosis. Youre still the same person, outbreak or not.
If you dont truly believe this, your words might reflect your self-judgment, and you might end up pulling away or conveying the message you do have something to feel embarrassed about .
Instead of saying something like:
- We cant have sex tonight I understand if you dont want to come over after all.
Try something like:
- Tonights a no-go for sex, so lets cuddle up with a horror movie.
The second validates the reality that you still have a lot to offer in the way of companionship. And dont forget, a hot makeout session can be pretty sexy. Think of the tension youll build up!
Sex is an important component in many romantic relationships, but it shouldnt be the only thing keeping your relationship going.
To help your relationship thrive, practice connecting with your partner in other ways.
You might try:
- sharing goals for the future
- simply existing in the same space
Experts agree this simply isnt true. The virus doesnt live long once outside the body, so the risk of transmission is very low in these scenarios.
Soap and water kills the virus, so if you touch sores to apply medication, all you have to do is wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Dating With Herpes: A Word Of Advice
When it comes to dating, everyone, in some way, has someform of handicap.
Whether its mental or physical , no one is perfect. If youvejust contracted herpes, going back into the dating world can be daunting. Itslike this one event split your whole dating experience into two halves:pre-herpes and post-herpes.
Now, not only do you have to deal with all of your regular, run-of-the-mill insecurities, but you also have to tell your partner that you have genital herpes.
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The Truth About Dating With Herpes Women Tell All
Dating is hard. In the dating world, Black women are often made to feel like they arent good enough and not worthy of actual healthy, loving and meaningful relationships. Add having herpes to the mix, and things can get even more complicated.
Theres such a stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections , especially herpes. Shame, fear, confusion, and assumptions about herpes is due to misinformation and a general lack of knowledge. The truth is, its extremely common. Its so common that many people already have it but just dont talk about it. According to the CDC, more than one in six people have genital herpes . And per Johns Hopkins Medicine, between 50 to 80 percent of people have oral herpes . Chances are youve swiped right or gone on a date with someone living with it. So what is it like to try and find love while openly dealing with this? To offer insight into what its like navigating sex and dating as a Black woman with herpes, four ladies volunteered to share their stories.
Kayla, a 25-year-old, says her herpes diagnosis has actually had a positive impact on her dating experiences. My dating life hasnt changed much. Herpes has allowed me to be more vulnerable with men who are deserving of my time, and also set boundaries for those who are only seeking to smash and pass, she says. Interestingly, Kayla expressed that the hardest thing about dating with herpes has been attempting to make connections with men who also have it.
Having Herpes Doesnt Mean Theyve Slept Around
In general we all have this idea or preconceived notion that people with herpes have slept around and thats obviously how they got herpes. Well this is 100% BS and false. We all have an idea of the type of person who has herpes and clearly because of the stigma it creates this false reality of people who have herpes.
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Why You Need To Tell Someone You Have Hsv
And this is especially important for herpes, since herpes isan STI that can be spread while having safe sex. Not all herpes sores arecovered by latex condoms, and physical contact with an open sore is exactly howherpes spreads. Its entirely possible to do everything the right way, totake your herpes medication, to wait until your symptoms clear up, to wear acondom, and still give your partner genital herpes.
With that said, nobodys perfect. In the heat of the moment,it can be twice as difficult to admit something like this. Maybe you haveherpes and youve been having sexual contact with your partner anyway. Justbecause there havent had any problems yet doesnt mean that there wontbe any problems in the future. Its best not to wait any longer to tell him orher.
And with that said, whats the best way to deliver the news?
Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over
While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.
People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.
If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.
If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.
So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.
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How To Talk To Partners About Your Herpes Diagnosis
Telling a partner or potential partner that you have herpes can be nerve-wracking, but its best to do early on so you can weed out people who have a problem with it, says Stephen Snyder, M.D., sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship. You need and deserve the acceptance that only someone who’s truly comfortable with it can give. So, best to advise a potential partner of your herpes status before you fall in love with them, he says. Also, best to tell them before too many articles of clothing get removed. After all, you don’t want anyone to feel pressured or uncomfortable.
Some people may even mention that they have herpes in their online dating profile to weed out people who are uncomfortable with it right away.
That said, you dont need to tell all your dates about your STI status immediately, if thats stressful for you. Snyder recommends bringing it up by the second or third date, or whenever sex is on the table.
Its helpful to provide a prospective partner with as many details as possible, including how often you have outbreaks, what you do for treatment or prevention, and what your preferences are regarding barriers, says Snyder. Have a starter script prepared. Something like, I need you to know: I have the virus that causes genital herpes.”
When It Comes To Dating With Herpes You Dont Have To Be Alone
But that doesnt mean you should be alone the rest of yourlife. Youre right to get back into the dating world. Just by looking thisarticle up online, youre on the right path.
Everyone whether if its because theyre too fat, tooshort, too ugly, or too nice has something thats holding them back frombeing the perfect partner. No one is 100%, but we all make do with what wehave. And, often, thats enough.
Maybe being too fat takes 10% off your dating potential.Maybe being too short takes 20% off your dating potential.
And maybe having herpes hurts your dating potential as well.
But no matter what your handicap is, whether its real orimagined, keep this in mind: Its not 100%. Youll always havepotential. Youll always have something to work with, even if its just10%. There will always be someone out there for you, no matter who youare or what problems you have.
Someone out there has done better with worse circumstances.
So, when it comes to finding a partner and not just communicating your predicament, keep in mind that no one is perfect, and many people are willing to accept you exactly as you are.
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