Most of us know the statistics of how many people have herpes and even more of us have had some kind of experience with an STD on some level, such as chlamydia. Through connecting and speaking with other people living with herpes, a surprisingly large portion of them contracted herpes through some form of deception on their sexual partners part. Why aren’t we telling each other and giving people the choice to take the risk or not of being with us?
I can give an opinion, considering I personally have lied about having herpes in the past. I was scared. I was afraid of rejection, I was afraid of judgment. I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I thought if I “acted normal” I would be normal again. I missed being able to have sex with someone without having to worry about infecting them with an STD for the rest of their life. I thought if it was someone I wouldn’t see again that I didn’t owe it to them to tell them if they didn’t ask me first. One time, I was asked and I still lied because I didn’t want to go through the difficult conversation and I was in denial that this was my life now. I thought if I lied about it or acted like my herpes didn’t exist, that it would magically disappear and I could carry on with my life.
ALL of the reasons I lied related to me wanting to be accepted by my sexual partners socially. NONE of the reasons I lied had much to do with herpes itself. I wasn’t afraid of the actual disease. The actual disease wasn’t all that scary. I was afraid of the affect the disease seemingly had on my social life. It was all about maintaining the perception that I was normal, desirable and healthy to everyone else because I was afraid of giving them a reason to think otherwise.
But had I told the person I lied to that I had herpes and allowed him to decide on his own, I might’ve had a different outcome. It’s a combination of wanting to feel normal again coupled up with thinking you know what another person will do before you even give them the chance to react.
I think pure terror of the thought of another persons reaction to hearing that we have herpes is the largest reason we hide it. And hiding it doesn’t only mean lying. Hiding it can also mean isolating ourselves from dating opportunities because we’re scared of rejection before we even meet someone. Or it could mean we randomly dump a date before we get too close to them because we convince ourselves they’ll never understand.
I’m not saying sharing that you have herpes always feels rewarding. There have been times I’ve told someone and they’ve insulted me or made me feel like a shell of a human being because of it and it felt awful. I almost regretted saying anything at all. But the only reason I’m in the relationship I’m in now is because I was upfront and honest when the time was right and told my boyfriend. He made the decision to continue to date me. He decided I was worth it. But if I had taken that decision away from him and lied or failed to share that I had herpes to him, I could’ve easily lost the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.
Whatever the reason to not disclose that you have herpes, it only makes the burden of dealing with this on your own larger. It makes your pain and suffering multiply because you’re now bringing pain and suffering onto another human being as well. From experience, I highly recommend taking the plunge and sharing your STD status with potential partners and relationships. If you need advice on timing and how to share, you can read more info here.