When I first found out I had Herpes, my world stopped. I had been dating a guy, that wasn't really all that amazing, but when I found out and shared with him, he didn't think it was a big deal, so I kept dating him, insecure and feeling as if I couldn't do any better, this was the one and only man who would accept me. Fast forward to him dumping me...yes him dumping me (and nothing to do with Herpes btw) my true realization that dating with Herpes would become a reality...shattered me. I felt like I could avoid Herpes with a kind of okay guy who accepted me. THANK GOD he broke up with me. It forced me to dive into the process of accepting myself and accepting Herpes.
I dove into my family, my friends, my church, running, reading and therapy. And although I had a few months of true ups and downs where I felt I could do this and then felt that nothing would get me feeling normal again, I started to feel like myself, but not just myself. A better version of myself. One that was more patient. Had more acceptance of others around me. Had a larger perspective on life.
Okay so the disclosure. I went to Disneyland with a group of friends, and one guy on the trip I had known for a number of years, but never really got closer than social gatherings. He started contacting me after the trip and started talking daily. We went on a number of dates. All with me being mindful of my boundaries. I wanted to feel ready to disclose and I kept reminding myself that just like any other important conversation, my vulnerability was something that needed to be earned. After our third date I went home deciding it was time.
I practiced exactly what I would say. I invited him over for dinner at my house and literally prayed for an opening for the conversation to come up. This is what I said:
"I want to share something and feel safe to be vulnerable with you. I feel like we're connecting and it's been exciting and I'd like to be open and honest. I have Herpes. I felt it was something you should know as we progress. It's really quite common and doesn't really affect my daily life. And although there's a 4% chance of a female passing it to a male and even less with suppressants I take, which I do, there is some risk involved and I want to be truthful and respectful to you and myself. I'm not ready to be physical yet, that's something that I value and takes me a little more time. I really like the connection we've been making and am looking forward to seeing where this goes. How do you feel about that? If you need some time, or want to do some research or have any questions I am happy and open to answer anything."
The whole time my heart was pounding, and I just kept telling myself, it's a normal conversation. Guess what. He thanked me for trusting him, he joked that he was happy I was thinking it'd get to the point of having sex and held my hand the whole time. And after the convo...he KEPT making out with me even more passionately than before.
I have to say, this has been incredibly hard. But I also have to say, I've never reflected more on myself and how I can communicate and be open and accepting of others, which ultimately has made me an incredibly better version of myself. I also have had to slow myself down physically in relationships to get to know the person enough to disclose before intimacy which has been even more positive for me.
Tips that completely helped me:
- Adrial's Home Study Course is AMAZING. I'm only halfway through and it's been a game-changer. Seriously. Consider it.
- I wrote down what I wanted to say and practiced it about 50 times in my car. Saying it aloud helped quite a bit.
- I went into the conversation knowing what I wanted to get out of it (valuing and respecting myself, being open and honest and knowing I want a partner who can do the same) which helped me stay clear with the conversation.
- I had my support team on dial (my close friends who I can spill everything to)
It all worked.
Ironically, the first guy who dumped me, came back in a big way...called, messaged, left a love letter on my car. And although I know I have outgrown him and my old shamed Herpes self...it doesn't hurt to get that little confidence boost either
You ALL are incredible and amazing. I would read these stories and think "well sure, you've had success of course you can say that" but I promise, if you invest in valuing yourself, feeling your best self, the journey become easier. Because if someone doesn't accept Herpes, you don't need them in your life. I'm incredibly excited to see where this new relationship goes and a huge weight has been lifted. Be strong, do your research and love yourself, because that's really one of the only options I see.