Having herpes, I sometimes wonder if maybe people are right when they say we should date other people that have herpes. Though I don’t think anyone should be limited to certain dating pools simply because they have a difficult aspect of their lives (because we all do), I have wondered if it would be easier. I’m here to tell you, yes, it’s easier. Easier to have a sex life. But no, It isn’t necessarily easier to have a good relationship simply because you both have herpes. So you can go back to avoiding those stigmatizing PositiveSingles dating websites you find mildly offensive but secretly are curious about when you have too many lonely nights in a row and feel like there couldn’t possibly be any normal people out there going through this, too.
I have a dog. I have a dog that once needed to be trained. In comes a dog trainer. I had a single dog trainer. He was nice. I was also single. And sometimes I was nice.
What I’m getting at is, I dated my dog trainer. For many reasons, I don’t recommend this. For one reason, I do: Free dog training. It ends there. It might also end before that, because I never kept in mind that once we broke up he might bill me for unpaid hours.
Now, there is nothing more relieving in this universe than getting all worked up about telling someone you have herpes, going through the way you’ll tell them in your mind a million times, finally nervously saying it and then holding your breath waiting for their response only to have them say, “Big deal. Me too”. It’s like spotting a unicorn. People say this happens more than you think, and maybe, just maybe those people got around more than I did. Because in my four years of dating with herpes, only ONCE have I organically met someone that also had it. (Though statistically speaking, I may have dated quite a few people that had it but just didn’t know they had it.) Anyways, it instantly takes away all the fear of rejection and the worry of how to navigate your sex life, and everything is sunshine and rainbows again. No more huge elephants in the room every time you two are together that you’re secretly panicking about while simultaneously attempting to sincerely get to know your date. You can now just get to know your date.
One side effect of this though, is it can give a false sense of security. Or at least in my case it did. It was almost like a secret pact we had with each other that made things seem like they were meant to be. Here he was, the man that would show me everything will be totally fine and dandy and I can have a normal relationship with someone that understands the confusing path this experience entails. After waiting to meet someone for a large amount of time, meeting someone by chance that also has herpes can almost seem ‘meant to be’. It really added an extra layer of me justifying behaviors I wouldn’t of normally been okay with from my partner. I talked myself into staying in the relationship because I knew not many men would come along that also had herpes, and wanted to date me. It was kind of pathetic in retrospect but I really longed for a relationship and felt like this one lined up so well initially that certainly it must be what I’d been waiting for.
But, alas, leaving out the negative details that are one sided since this is only my interpretation of our relationship, we were in fact NOT meant to be. We had very little emotional compatibility, and our sex life was just okay.
What sticks out the most from this relationship as a learning experience was the blatant example of hypocrisy on my end. I failed to mention, this man had oral and genital herpes. I don’t have oral herpes, only genital herpes. (You can pass the two between each other, so, if he gave me oral sex with a cold sore present and I did NOT already have genital herpes, I could contract it. But I’ll leave the medical specifics to more professional sites). One day he leaned in to kiss me and I saw he had a cold sore on his lip. I immaturely screeched and backed away, all while pointing at his mouth saying, “We shouldn’t kiss. You have a cold sore. I really don’t want to get oral herpes from you.” He looked at me with a mixture of surprise and offense.
What I learned is, even though I thought I was on the path to acceptance of herpes and other people that also had herpes, I was so quick to point a disgusted finger in the face of the man I was dating because he had a visible cold sore. Which was more or less the exact same thing I had in a different location on his body. Extremely judgemental and hypocritical of me and definitely made me take a step back and reevaluate what I really thought about the disease and people living with it. I get so worked up about being accepted but the moment my health is at risk on even a minor level, I’m unwilling to accept the person posing the risk. Terribly one sided and unrealistic.
This all leaves us at possible reaction to having the herpes talk #2: I have it too. The easiest reaction of them all, though the most difficult to find. (Unless you use those dating sites, I’d imagine).
Those dates were okay for both of us, but that relationship as a whole sucked. For both of us.