The first year was hell. I was so devastated at first, that it took a
month or to before I could stop feeling sorry for myself long enough to
become angry with the guy who gave it to me - who was still claiming he knew nothing about it. Aside from trying to wrestle with the outbreaks
themselves, I had a really hard time with the idea of it. I had gone from
feeling like the whole world was about to open up for me, to feeling like a pariah with the words "CONTAMINATED" and "UNCLEAN" stamped on my forehead. I had come from a very small town, and was sure that somehow, everyone would eventually know. I blamed myself. I had slept with too many guys, and thought I should have known better, protected myself better, and generally done everything differently. I thought I deserved it, and that no guy worth having would ever want to touch me again. I was irrationally convinced that I would never be able to have children, because even if someone would touch me, I would always need to use condoms. Looking back, there is some truth, and a lot of crap in those feelings. First, sleeping with a lot of men WAS a dangerous and stupid thing to do. It was also a lot of fun - and if it weren't for this, I would probably look back and think what a great time I had. Sex isn't evil, it's just a whole lot better with the right person. Second, I didn't "deserve" this. There weren't THAT many men, and this happens to people with only one partner as easily as someone who has had many. It's simply life, and in real life, bad things can happen to nice people. Over the last 10 years, I have been lucky to have had several boyfriends (who were worth having), and one fantastic husband (worth keeping), who were understanding and supportive. They helped me realize that I would not necessarily have to be alone for the rest of my life, which, at 20, had been a horrible prospect. I must admit, during the first few years that there were men I had sex with that I did not tell I had Herpes. I (they) used condoms, and I carefully monitored my symptoms, and I do not believe that I have ever passed the disease along to a partner. However the guilt over not telling these men has haunted me. In time, I began to realize that a man could know I had this, and still want to be with me. After reading some of the Bios, I think this is something very important, that all of you who are just starting to cope with this need to know. I have had long-term relationships with several men, AND THEY KNEW I HAD HERPES. It won't always be roses, and you may get hurt, and you may get rejected. But if you refuse to even try to let someone get close to you, you will definitely be alone. Sometimes wonderful things happen too. I now have a great career, and live an enjoyable life. I am very happily married, and we are planning to try for children next year. I am overjoyed at the idea that I might be able to have a child the old fashioned way, since for a long time I had thought that would be out of the question.
Telling: I have never told my parents, though siblings know, and a couple of close friends. Since I have told previous partners, I suspect that it is known in my home town, though I sincerely hope not, since small towns gossip the most. Telling siblings and friends wasn't so bad. They weren't as shocked as I thought they'd be, and were very supportive.
I have had both good and bad experience telling men. The worst was when I had begun dating a friend of 6-7 years. Things were going really well, and I was thinking "why didn't we ever do this before"? After I told him I had Herpes, he quickly found excuses not to see me, or talk to me, any more. The loss of what I thought was a good friend was the hardest part. With a few exceptions, including my husband, I have made a point of telling men before the relationship got very far. I also made a point of not dating anyone connected with my job or my family. I found that telling a man I was just starting to date wasn't so bad, since if he couldn't handle it, I didn't necessarily have a lot of feelings invested yet. No man ever ran screaming from the room, and most of them accepted it, and agreed to be extra careful. As a general rule, they respected my honesty, and the fact that they were given a choice. I think this is easier when you live in a big city, as I do, and you aren't faced with the prospect of wondering whether or not he's just run and told everyone you know. Plus, if things don't work out, you don't necessarily have to see him every other day. But lets face it, telling is always hard.
One of the hardest to tell was my husband/then boyfriend. I broke all the
"rules" here. I pretty much fell in love with him on our first date, but we
worked together, and I was afraid of what he would think, that he'd reject
me, and how on earth would I be able to keep working with him if he pulled
away in horror. In the meantime, however, I showed a
by-then-uncharacteristic lack of control and slept with him. Then I was
really afraid to tell him. I waited a few months, somehow finding excuses to put off telling him. He changed jobs, and then he asked me to move-in with him. I realized I couldn't keep going like this, and finally told him - absolutely sure he would never want to see me again. I told him I had something bad to tell him, that I had been keeping something from him, and that if he wanted I would go away and he would never have to see me again. He wasn't thrilled. But he definitely didn't want me to go away, and I definitely didn't "deserve" that. Sometimes nice things happen to bad people. And we lived happily ever after.
Strangely, the hardest person to tell has always been my gynecologist.
I've changed doctors a few times, and it always takes me several visits
before I can work up the nerve to openly talk to them about it. I guess I'm worried that I'll go from being a human patient to being "an interesting specimen."
Thanks for having this site. Even after so many years, it's really helpful
to be able to talk about it so freely, without any fear of rejection or