111: Hookups and Herpes with Alexandra Harbushka

Life With Herpes


Let’s talk about sex! The hookup culture has become a pretty controversial cultural topic amongst college kids, psychologist, and the baby boomers worrying about their kids in this sexual revolution. Some main points that are brought up are, safe sex, self-worth, mental health, is the love dead and basically a lack of understanding of what hooking up really is. It gets brought to my attention almost on a daily basis by members of our Life With Herpes community so I thought it would be important for us to discuss this.

The number one question I’m asked is,  “how will I ever have sex again in this hookup culture now that I have herpes”. I’m also asked things like, “will I ever hook up again because I have herpes”. Members have expressed that they are jealous of their friends who don’t have herpes and they can just hook up with whoever they like. The herpes stigma mixed with the hookup culture is really cooking up some serious emotions.

In the last decade, the media has played a roll in promoting the hookup culture. There were reality TV shows that popularized one night stands as well as movies titles “The Hook Up” or “No Strings Attached”. Basically, the media portrayed this unbelievable sex life with no strings, commitment or romance. Thus a decade later we are in the multiple partners, noncommitment sex and the scariest thing of all...we’re still not having safe sex.

Stay with me for a second while I compare hookups and extream mounting climbing. Basically, you need to be prepared, both mentally and physically. Let’s say you make the decision to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, its 19,000-foot mountain and this is not your stroll down the local community hiking trail. This requires training, it requires survival knowledge, it requires understanding the elements, it requires proper gear and the list can go on and on. But most importantly it requires the hikers to be mentally prepared for what can go wrong. These people are ready for the Mount Kilimanjaro hike. Can you imagine if the hikers woke up one day and decide to go hike it unprepared, unclothed, not nourished, without communication and most importantly without a plan?  I can fast forward this for you...it’s not going to go well.

The way the hookup culture is now is like deciding to go for a little neighborhood stroll when it should be like preparing for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. We are not properly educated in sex, we don’t communicate anything to our partner about needs, safety or even a phone number for that matter. As a whole, we forget that sex is the most powerful thing two people can do. I mean that. It’s the most powerful thing two people can do because it creates life. Having unsafe sex can lead to unwanted pregnancy, STI’s, obviously herpes, and not to mention the emotional drama that goes with it.

I’m not saying hookups are bad. What I’m saying is you need to make sure you’re 100% in and ready for all outcomes and that includes herpes, other STI’s and pregnancy. Oh and not to mention a potential stage 5 clinger...lol

Now I can’t help you with the mental portion of hooking up and avoiding regret but what I can help you with is the safe sex. Here’s what you need to do.
  1. Before having sex talk about your sexual health. I know this sounds hard to do at a bar with the DJ blasting your favorite song but it needs to happen. It’s your due diligence to disclose that you have herpes. Yes, it’s possible that he or she may no longer want to jump in bed with you but hey let’s face it…its a stranger and you’ll never see them again.
  2. Use protection. Use it the entire time, every time and correctly. I hear of so many people saying oh we didn't have a condom or we ran out or it fell off so we just said “f” it. If it falls off go get another one. If you don’t have a condom then don't do it. ******carry own condoms
  3. Get tested and get tested often. This is really key and typically we go with the idea of no news is good news or if I don’t know then I can’t worry. It’s your health and your life that we’re talking about. If you had chest pains you’d go get a chest x-ray because you wouldn’t want to have a heart attack. Why is it that if there’s a blister or it hurts to go pee that we just ignore it. If you have multiple partners or your partner has multiple partners then get tested often. As awkward as it is just do it. ****get tested for other STI’s
I’m extremely adamant about safe sex because we are talking about your life, your health, and your future. Herpes is just a skin disease.  That’s it. There are so many other STI’s you can catch that can really change your life.

I’m not saying not to hookup. Trust me I get it. What I want you to be is  100% ready and sure you’re in charge of this and you’ve got it covered.

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Alexandra Harbushka

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