All too often we tend to automatically identify with all the negatives about herpes. All those ways that herpes shows up as a block to our happiness, fulfillment and pleasure seem to automatically bubble up in our heads. Being proactive around unblocking all of that is what these four reminders are all about. Use these reminders to say to yourself with all sincerity “I’m okay.” They will help you change your own relationship to herpes to be a more positive and self-supporting one. These aren’t necessarily affirmations (although they could be), but are at the very least statements you already know to be true on some level. And they still are.

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1. “Sex is a beautiful, natural act. I was just doing what came naturally.”

You were just doing what most adults enjoy doing: having sex. And there’s nothing inherently wrong about consenting adults having sex. There is so much beauty in it, so much opportunity for deep connection between two people. And beyond that, let’s admit it: sex is just so much fun! Getting an STD tends to take us away from seeing it as something beautiful and fun; it might twist it as harmful, dangerous, dirty. We tend to put ourselves in the victim mentality when really there are inherent risks in everything. We need to be reminded of the connection, beauty and fun of sex.

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2. “I am sexy.”

Too many people feel that herpes dampens their ability to be sexy, but the truth is that it’s a decision you make … are you sexy with herpes or not? Remember that it’s not about the herpes, but how you relate to your sexuality with confidence that is sexy. Partners can also see it as incredibly sexy that you take so much care and personal strength in being open and vulnerable about something that is perceived as shameful to some. You are sexy. You deserve to be sexy. Shout it from the rooftops!
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3. “It’s just a skin condition.”

Yes, society tends to dictate that it’s more than just a skin condition, but in reality that’s what herpes is. Choose the right words to appropriately describe herpes. Words are powerful. The often-cited fact that 80% of people have oral herpes but shrug it off as the common “cold sore” shows us the power of words and perspective. And yes, sometimes these common “cold sores” show up on the genitals. The difference between one and the other is simply location on the body, yet cold sores and genital herpes are perceived as worlds apart. This shows that it might take a little longer before we are comfortable with sexuality as a common human behavior. And changing society’s perceptions of what this virus truly is starts with us and how we relate to having it.

It is important to note that this is not to minimize the desire to save your partner from getting it, but once you have it, and all the cultural/societal/media hype is stripped away, it is just a common skin condition, after all.

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4. “How I feel about it now isn’t necessarily how I will always feel about it.”

When I first got herpes, I thought that this would be the one thing that would always get me down. I thought for sure I would never get over it. I thought the only way to deal with it was to avoid thinking about it. But strangely enough, I have actually become thankful for what herpes has taught me in my life. It is a unique opportunity to be authentic with a partner in a way that many people choose not to be; some even deny they have it so they won’t have to deal with the emotional ramifications. But the emotional ramifications are where the opportunities lie. Check out this quote for a summary: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Beautiful. And true.

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So practice saying these four things whenever you start to feel down about having herpes. And really check yourself so you say them in a real, meaningful way. Your relationship with herpes doesn’t have to be a burden. And that relationship starts now.

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