My current boyfriend and I met at a bar, which everyone knows isn’t exactly the setting that promotes long term relationships and deep romance.
I was saying goodbye to some friends in the defeatist “my night was pointless I should’ve just stayed home” way I tended to do as a perpetually painfully single woman and saw a man blankly staring at a television by the door when I turned to leave. I had seen him earlier in the night, thought he was attractive and figured we both looked to be on our way out so how bad could this go. I spent about five collective seconds thinking of something extremely mind-blowingly awesome to say to him and marched right up to him and gave him this weird tap/slug on the shoulder. Nothing, nothing good came out of my mouth. I made a few sarcastic dry comments to him, got him to laugh a bit, got him to give me the “who are you” stare a ton and mostly thought I was making myself look like a massive jackass. We both mentioned we were on our way home for the night, him multiple times, so I felt like this was doomed. But then he asked if I’d be interested in staying for one drink with him to talk more…
From the first night I met him I felt that cliche feeling people always dump on their single friends, the “you’ll just know” feeling. I fucking hated that saying my entire life because it’s absurd and it’s based off of no foundation of sanity whatsoever. How can you know anyone you don’t know. But I felt it and still do every single day, and I walked into the relationship with an optimism unlike anything I’d felt before because of that. Which may have helped push my STD status and discussion into the back of my mind for a while.
A couple weeks of dating in while we were out at brunch one morning, I casually brought up wanting to move for some time and that I was planning on continuing to do so in the near future. He told me, unflinchingly, that if I moved he just knew he would want to go with me. A crazy thing for two people to discuss so early, but the certainty and the look in his eyes showed me at the very least that he was falling for me as deeply and quickly as I was for him.
This was the time I began the panic. The panic of wondering how he would react when I told him. Would he dump me? Is he going to be grossed out? Has he ever dated someone with herpes? I was so enamored with him that I think I even forgot I had herpes up until that point. I began to feel how fast I could lose something that I felt so sure of.
He went home and I paced around my house for hours (HOURS) fluctuating between panic, terror, frustration, anger and self-pity until I caved and realized I couldn’t wait until I saw him next to tell him and called him. Let me tell you, when you really, really NEED someone to answer the phone they NEVER do. He didn’t answer and all the courage I had mustered to call him became ridiculous frustration now that I had to wait for him to call me back.
I decided to take a drive and the moment I had driven a few blocks from home he called. I awkwardly said hello and mumbled that I had to tell him a fairly serious and important thing. He calmly said sure and waited for me to explain. I stammered through a gazillion run-on sentences explaining how much of a future I saw with him, mixed with too many mentions of him being allowed to break up with me if he couldn’t handle this, but that I had herpes. And that it’s not a big deal but it is a big deal to some people but it shouldn’t be even though I think it can be.
I played every side of the argument simultaneously and definitely confused him even more. I lost track of what I even thought about herpes at that point. Telling people never goes as calmly and seamlessly as I think out beforehand.
After patiently listening to my chaotic explosion of an explanation, he responded along the lines of, “I don’t see that being an issue.”
Relief is an understatement. I think I felt euphoric at that point. We very lightly discussed what having herpes entails and promised to discuss it further. Once he decided he was interested in continuing to date me I felt no need to rush the discussion any longer. But this is my first time experiencing a person saying they’re fine with my situation and then realizing just how complicated the relationship will be. He had never dated anyone with herpes and knew nothing about the disease. He was willing to take the risk not knowing what it would actually mean. And I now learned what I thought the hardest part was, telling him I had herpes, actually turned out to be the easiest part of this entire relationship so far. Which says a lot for anyone that knows how hard that is.