Empowering Disclosure: Redefining Dating with Herpes


In our support group calls today, we delved deep into conversations about dating and disclosing—a journey all of us embark on from the moment we're faced with an HSV diagnosis. That initial day is a whirlwind of emotions, questions, and fears. Questions like, "Will I ever be loved again?" or "Can I have a normal sex life?" mix with worries such as, "Should I stay with my current partner?" and "How did this happen to me?" These thoughts are overwhelming, touching on fears of acceptance, love, and the future of our sexual health.

Today, I want to focus on the transformative power of disclosing your herpes status. This act of openness isn't just about doing the "right thing"; it's a profound opportunity to redefine yourself, your boundaries, and your approach to sexual health.

Before our diagnoses, many of us lived under the illusion that herpes—or any STD, for that matter—couldn't touch us. We thought we could somehow spot or avoid "those kinds" of situations. But living proof stands in our shared stories, breaking down these myths. Reflecting on life pre-diagnosis, I'm inclined to say we might not have truly understood boundaries. Perhaps we had them, but without explicit communication, our partners were left assuming they were STD-free, and we, in turn, assumed mutual understanding about the nature of our relationship, including exclusivity.

However, an HSV diagnosis forces us into a corner we often dread: the disclosure conversation. But let's reframe this. Instead of seeing it as a skeleton tumbling out of the closet, consider it a moment to introspect about the importance of your sexual health. Before, "important" might have been our automatic response, lacking the depth of experience we now have—the fear, the realization, and the desire never to relive such a moment or wish it upon anyone else.

Disclosure, then, becomes an act of honoring yourself. It's about self-care and respect, placing your well-being at the forefront by establishing clear boundaries and expectations. During one of our Monday calls, a member shared his disclosure experience, highlighting the emotional rollercoaster but also his resolve not to risk his partner's health or acquire another STD. This story is a powerful reminder that, despite feeling like the "bad guy" for having herpes, the reality is starkly different. The majority of genital herpes cases go undiagnosed, and a significant portion of the population lives with HSV-1 without ever knowing. This doesn't even begin to cover the myriad of STIs that can be transmitted unknowingly.

Therefore, rather than succumbing to denial or the fear of stigma, I encourage you to view disclosure as a cornerstone of trust in your relationship. It's an act of care—for yourself, your partner, and the future you may build together. Being honest and upfront from the start is not just about avoiding transmission; it's about valuing and respecting each other on a deeper level.

It's easy to spiral into negativity, worrying about acceptance or future relationships. However, by focusing on the importance of your sexual health and the foundation of your new relationship, you shift the narrative to one of empowerment and positivity.

As we navigate these waters, remember that disclosing your status is more than a mere confession; it's a declaration of self-worth and a step towards meaningful, transparent relationships. It’s about changing the script from fear and uncertainty to one of strength, self-respect, and mutual care. This journey isn’t just about facing the challenges of an HSV diagnosis—it’s about emerging on the other side with a deeper understanding of what it means to truly care for oneself and others in the realm of relationships and sexual health.

Let’s carry forward the message from our support group: disclosure is not a burden but a bridge to deeper connections, a testament to our resilience and capacity for empathy. Together, we redefine the landscape of dating with herpes, championing a future where honesty, health, and heart lead the way.


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!