Personally, I can only share experience with one STD. If you don’t count the multiple instances of chlamydia when I was seventeen (it just refused to go away), the genital warts scare that included burning the ‘wart’ off of my body that proved to NOT be a genital wart upon further investigation, and the short-lived experience with scabies (yes, I know, scabies isn’t an STD but it’s scary shit and totally worth mentioning. Far scarier than herpes. Trust me).

I have had HSV-2 for four years. I have dated for a collective eight years. So, for about four years of dating, I was able to date like a “normal” person. For another four years I was able to date like a person that thought they were entirely normal, but were quickly reminded that they are indeed NOT normal.

Normal is extremely subjective. But, if you’ve ever had any question of what your friends think about STD’s and dating someone with an STD, I highly recommend getting everybody mildly drunk, and start talking about sex. Soon enough it will organically appear: the ignorant friend you never knew you had, the quiet friend you now suspect may have something you definitely didn’t know they had, and at least one person shaking their head back and forth saying they don’t think it’s a big deal. You’ll also have many other friends with varying degrees of responses if you have more than three friends, unlike me.

The point is, there are different opinions out there. The opinion that comes to the top of the list on the internet these days, seems to be the “They did it to themselves, let them figure it out” opinion. (Not to be so narrow, but stigmas and hostile opinions run far more rampant than love and acceptance on this topic).

I contracted herpes from my boyfriend four years ago. Let me say that one more time for the people that know my STD status, then shame me for my sex life; I GOT HERPES FROM MY BOYFRIEND. (Not my current boyfriend, to be extra clear). This was a man I loved, and trusted at the time, and had all reason to believe loved and trusted me the same. Clearly, he didn’t. He chose to have unprotected sex with me, knowing he had herpes.

This doesn’t inherently make him evil or automatically make me a victim. I also had unprotected sex with him. I didn’t ask him what his STD status was before we had sex. These are also large issues not to overlook.

But, we had sex, and we weren’t safe. After discovering I contracted herpes and letting the relationship move on a bit further (mostly because I didn’t believe anyone would ever “want to have sex with me again”), we broke up.

**For the amount of times I hear a woman in my position referred to as ‘dirty’, I feel it is imperative to specify there are MANY, many different ways of contracting herpes. One of those ways is having sexual intercourse with someone you are in an exclusive relationship with. It can really happen to anyone.