But all the self-acceptance in the world doesn’t erase the fact that a herpes diagnosis creates ripple effects of shame and social isolation, and the fallout is especially pronounced when it comes to your dating life.“It’s good to have the conversation because there is a potential risk of transmission,” Cherrell Triplett, M.
D., an ob/gyn who practices at Southside OBGYN and Franciscan Alliance in Indianapolis, Indiana, tells SELF.
Davis usually holds off on disclosing to potential sexual partners that she has herpes until she’s known them for a bit.
“I’ve always waited a little while before telling people, basically until I thought it was going somewhere,” Davis says.
Others just write, “I have herpes” in their profiles, and Davis says her friends in this camp still have plenty of people knocking on their online-dating doors.
You can have great sex, find love, and also cut down on the chance of passing herpes along to your partner, Triplett says.
They both say it can be nerve-racking, but a few things help: sitting the person down in a place that’s comfortable for them, trying not to be too emotional, starting off with something like, “Hey, there’s something I need to talk to you about,” and bringing a wealth of knowledge to the conversation.“I always try to be calm and not too clinical but explain that I have done the research,” Carlson says.
Davis agrees, saying she fills people in on key details, like how herpes is transmitted, how transmission can be prevented, whether she’s taking medication that keeps the virus from multiplying, thus making it less likely to transmit, and how to find more information about the STD.
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The infection, which is caused by the herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2 viruses and passed via skin-to-skin contact, can show up as a cluster of sores on the mouth area or genitals.
It can also be asymptomatic, so most people with herpes don’t know they have it, which is a large part of the reason why it’s so prevalent.
“After I felt more comfortable with myself and the situation, I went on Bumble and started dating people in the more conventional way,” she says.
Some people put an incognito message in their profiles on general dating sites, writing out 437737—it spells “herpes” on a dial pad—in their profiles.
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“On a first date with this wonderful guy, I told him, and he couldn’t handle it,” she says.