I have an STD and my boyfriend does not. Specifically, I have HSV-2 (Genital Herpes) and my boyfriend does not. This is at times so totally normal to me, and at other times, so painfully difficult. The inspiration for sharing my experiences has come from a lengthy search on Google for couples that are in our position and how they navigated that journey from the beginning. I was also looking for someone I could relate to age-wise(mid-20s), that had non-judgmental advice on the topic. Those types of articles were difficult to locate. I am interested in an open discussion, a safe environment for people to share their personal experiences living with an STD, and watching my relationship unfold hopefully for the best (though at times probably for the worst) as I try to figure out what the hell I am doing.
Google “Would you date a woman with an STD if you did not have one” and you’ll get an ear-full. Many results are quite mind blowing, and usually include variances of the response, “Absolutely not/Hell no/there are special dating sites for those people to date within their kind.” Even as recently as a couple weeks ago, The Huffington Post proudly posted an article titled, “PositiveSingles Is A Niche Dating Site That Actually Makes Sense”. When you do spy a response from a person that clearly has experience in the topic first-hand, you are usually left feeling a bit detached from their perspective because of a difference in age or background, or because regardless of how open people are online of their stories, there is always a certain level of anonymity that can make it difficult to truly relate.
But it is only fair to mention that I have also seen many posts from men and women, giving their calm perspective, usually beginning with the explanation that they have been a part of a marriage or long term partnership that includes one infected partner, and one un-infected partner. And that they are healthy, happy and fine. That it is possible to continue on that way, without both of you becoming infected, with awareness and sexual responsibility. Though these instances give hope for those of us that suffer with the stigma of an STD, they tend to leave out much detail and do not answer most of the questions I frequently find on my mind. Such as,
How did they initially bring up the topic to their partner? How long have they (the infected partner) been living with this disease? How did the un-infected partner react to the news of your STD? Have they been in successful relationships where one partner is STD-free though they are not, before? How long were they dating before they decided to become intimate? How did they navigate the different levels of intimacy? Did the infected partner ever feel guilty about their STD status because their lover was STD-free? Did the infected partner ever feel rejected? Did the uninfected partner ever feel pressured? How did you educate each other? Did you simply talk? Share articles? Ask friends for advice?
Many articles cover a few of these questions, and they do very well at answering them. But when taken individually, as they usually are, these questions provide insight into life and relationships with disease, but they do not really give you the whole picture.
I intend to share my personal, sex, and dating life with you all, in the hopes the potentially confused, and hurt individuals going through this journey may have an additional place to hear a first hand account of living with herpes.