Best Herpes Dating Advice: What Community Says?

Dating with herpes might feel like a the biggest task. The already complex world of dating seems to gain an additional layer of challenge—navigating the disclosure and acceptance of having herpes. When I received my genital herpes diagnosis back in 2011, fear engulfed me. It petrified me so much that I stayed in a relationship with the person I'd contracted herpes from. For two years, I held back, not knowing how to broach the daunting conversation of disclosure. Looking back, I wish I had possessed more confidence and taken that leap of faith sooner.

In our recent support group call, dating, disclosing, and the timing of disclosure were hot topics. During our customary icebreaker, I asked for advice, and the responses varied widely. Some suggested getting to know oneself better before entering the dating scene, setting boundaries, simply enjoying the experience, or even mastering the art of saying no. My personal advice? Just say yes. The perspectives were diverse, but amidst this, I found a common thread—the importance of discerning whether the person you're disclosing to is worth hearing your truth. More on that shortly.

Let's pivot towards the positive aspects of dating, irrespective of having herpes. We often psyche ourselves out to an extent that it affects us physically, possibly even triggering outbreaks. Frankly, it's not worth it. Being genuine and true to yourself allows for better communication about your identity and desires. This naturally leads to setting personal boundaries while respecting those of your date.

However, specific concerns arise when dating with herpes. The primary worry centers around the delicate art of disclosure—when and how to reveal your herpes status to a potential partner. The fear of rejection stems from the stigma attached to the condition, leading to concerns about transmission risks and the associated responsibility. Managing outbreaks, handling long-term relationships, and educating partners about the virus add layers of complexity. Amidst these challenges, the emotional toll of living with a lifelong condition manifests as stress, anxiety, or even depression. Yet, fostering open communication, empathy, and mutual understanding between partners can alleviate these worries and pave the way for meaningful relationships built on trust and support.

Personally, here's my suggestion, and if you need further support, there's the Tell Your Partner Toolkit available to guide you through your next disclosure. First, define what you seek from the relationship, establishing your own boundaries. Are you monogamous, non-monogamous, looking for something casual, or aiming for a serious commitment? If it's casual, have the conversation, disclose your herpes status, affirm your negative status for other STIs (if applicable), and plan for safe intimacy. If it's more serious, wait until you're ready for intimacy. As I mentioned earlier, assess if this person is worth sharing something so personal with.

The fear of rejection often holds us back from dating, and yes, rejection is possible, but remember, it's possible even without herpes. My hope is that you take the time to understand what you want from a relationship and decide to step out and start dating.


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