I’ve had tons of feedback lately and I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone that chimes in whether on here or via email. I think a downside of some of the things I write is that some people, that may not understand because they don’t have herpes themselves or simply disagree with my outlook, are thinking I’m attempting to make herpes a big deal when it’s not. I wish that were true because that would mean we live in the world I want to live in, where people don’t judge each others lifestyles, values, and morals over a cold sore on our genitals. But I know I don’t live in that world yet and neither do many of you.
Herpes is not a big deal. It isn’t. I don’t think it is, most people that have it don’t think it is, and most people that don’t have it might say they don’t think it is but that they “still never want it.” Which is fair. But if it’s not a big deal why do so many people feel so isolated when they’re first diagnosed? Why do they feel like they can’t ever date normally again? Or that they’re different from other people now? That they’ll be judged? That their friends and family won’t see them the same way anymore or understand?
People feel like that because socially herpes is still a huge issue. It’s absolutely crazy if you really think about it. For example, if I didn’t have herpes and someone I knew got a cold sore on their mouth and came to me frantic, asking what they should do and who would ever love them again and now they can never face the world the same way, I would stare blankly. For a long time. Wondering what the hell was wrong with my friend because having a cold sore is not a big deal. But, if I didn’t have herpes, and this same friend came to me saying “I have genital herpes and my dating life will never be the same, what will people think of me” I would try to console them and maybe nervously nod in understanding. Is that not blowing any of your minds? We totally accept that someone should feel ashamed and isolated over genital herpes automatically, but most of us don’t ever think those same thoughts when we see that SAME cold sore on a persons mouth. One location can not be that much different than another. It’s a simple, manageable disease. A minor annoyance for most. It doesn’t define anyone. Genital herpes doesn’t make anyone dirty, or less worthy, or immoral. And it can’t make one person dirty, slutty, or immoral, yet not everyone. We don’t get to pick and choose what it says about anyone. It says nothing because you have no ounce of understanding how that person got herpes in the first place. Is the person who got herpes through rape less dirty then the person that got herpes from her boyfriend that lied? No. It doesn’t define anyone. It is separate from who a person is, so we should stop pointing fingers.
Herpes isn’t a big deal, right? If that’s still true, why is dating with herpes so terrifying at times. Rejection is a very real possibility and many times we’re no longer rejected for not being the right person personality-wise or lifestyle-wise. We’re suddenly given the “You having herpes is just something I’ll never be okay with” speech. Which is totally fine, it should always be a choice a person gets to make on their own. But you can’t tell anyone that has herpes that getting rejected for only having herpes doesn’t absolutely suck. It suddenly makes all of your other qualities seem less important and that the only thing that matters is finding someone to accept that you have herpes and THEN worry about the other stuff. Like if you’re a good person, a loving person, a passionate person. It’s an unfair feeling.
There will always be people that don’t want to date a person with herpes because they don’t want it themselves. That isn’t a horrible thing, or a mean thing. It’s a personal choice. But people saying herpes isn’t a big deal should think about what it’s like to actually have it and that maybe people do still make a big deal over it when they don’t have to. I know everyone that has herpes wants the same things everyone does. They want to be loved and accepted and don’t want to be judged over something now out of their control.
I do believe large amounts of people don’t think herpes is a big deal. They’ve gone through enough to realize there are far more important issues to get so worked up about and I agree with them. But I want to know that even more people can feel that way so that none of us have to struggle in private, or feel abnormal or scared of how to move forward. It’s not worth it to feel that way simply because my genital herpes isn’t your oral herpes.