Navigating Disclosure: How to Tell Your Partner About Your Herpes Status Despite Their STI Jokes


Empowering Yourself to Have the Conversation You Deserve

This week on our support group calls, we had some new members. Welcome!!! As you know, I love our Monday support group calls, and I get so excited when we have new members. To me, this means that someone is ready to heal their deep wounds, begin learning how to handle their diagnosis, and start changing their life. When we're diagnosed, we feel like we've been given this huge curse and that it's something we will never get over. It's something that we'll have to make life changes with, it's something that will hold us back with love, marriage, starting a family, as well as career development and so much more. But this is just what the stigma wants us to believe, and this is ultimately what holds us back. So, like I said, I get so excited when new people join the group because I know they are about to go on a deep journey that will transform their lives and, of course, their relationship with herpes.

With that being said, back on track with herpes. (lol) We had some conversations today from two of our members who had partners make an STI joke or reference a friend that had herpes, and the reference was in a negative way or even something smug about STIs. Of course, to someone who has herpes, this doesn't make us feel good and even makes us want to hold off on disclosing our status. Some people might just call it off and walk away because they are too ashamed to even face it. In our group's situation, both members gathered up the courage and had the disclosure. And spoiler alert...both disclosures went well. But I thought this was a really important topic to discuss because this can hold us back from disclosing, and that is truly a shame. Typically, the person is just unaware that what he or she is saying is even offensive. We'll dig more into this in the blog post.

Understanding the Impact of STI Jokes and Comments

When someone you're interested in makes a joke or a disparaging comment about STIs, it can feel like a punch to the gut. These remarks often stem from misinformation and societal stigma surrounding herpes and other STIs. It's important to remember that these jokes say more about the speaker's ignorance than about you or your condition.

Research shows that herpes is incredibly common, with the World Health Organization estimating that around 67% of the global population under 50 has HSV-1, and 11% have HSV-2. Despite its prevalence, the stigma remains, largely due to a lack of education and understanding.

Why Disclosure is Important

Honesty is the foundation of any strong relationship. Disclosing your herpes status to a partner is not only an ethical responsibility but also a step toward deeper intimacy and trust. By being open about your condition, you give your partner the chance to make informed decisions and build a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

Moreover, disclosure can be liberating. It allows you to live authentically without the burden of hiding a significant aspect of your life. This honesty can strengthen your bond and create a more supportive and loving relationship.

Overcoming Self-Consciousness

Feeling self-conscious about disclosing your herpes status is normal, but there are ways to build your confidence. Start by educating yourself about herpes. Understanding the facts about transmission, treatment, and living with the virus can help you feel more prepared and less anxious about the conversation.
Joining a support group or talking to others who have herpes can also provide reassurance and practical advice. Hearing success stories from those who have been in your shoes can inspire you to approach your disclosure with a positive mindset.

Planning the Conversation

Choosing the right time and place for the conversation is crucial. Find a private, comfortable setting where you won't be interrupted. Ensure that both you and your partner are in a calm and relaxed state of mind.

When starting the conversation, keep it straightforward and factual. You might say something like, "I really value our relationship and want to be completely honest with you. I have herpes, and I think it's important that you know." Be prepared to answer any questions they may have and provide accurate information to help them understand the condition.

Handling Reactions

Your partner's initial reaction might vary. They might be shocked, curious, or even upset. It's important to remain calm and give them space to process the information. Emphasize that herpes is manageable and that many people with the virus lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

If the reaction is negative, try not to take it personally. It might reflect their own fears and misconceptions rather than their feelings toward you. Give them time to digest the information and consider suggesting that they speak with a healthcare provider for more accurate information.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

Disclosure can be a way to filter out partners who are not supportive or understanding. If someone reacts negatively and can't move past their initial shock, it may indicate that they are not the right person for you. On the other hand, a partner who responds with empathy and support can strengthen your bond and deepen your relationship.

Many couples have successfully navigated this conversation and gone on to have healthy, happy relationships. Their stories can serve as inspiration and remind you that a supportive partner will stand by you.

Resources and Support

There are many resources available to help you navigate herpes disclosure and living with the virus. Websites like the American Sexual Health Association and the Herpes Resource Center offer valuable information and support. Joining a community like the Secret Society can provide ongoing support and connect you with others who understand your experiences.

Disclosing your herpes status to a partner can be daunting, especially when past comments have made you feel uneasy. However, with the right preparation and mindset, you can approach the conversation with confidence and honesty. Remember, finding a supportive and understanding partner is crucial, and this conversation is a step toward building a stronger, more authentic relationship.

Take the leap, be honest, and empower yourself. You deserve a partner who respects and supports you for who you are.

Join The Secret Society. 


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