I’ve had a long running debate with friends over whether dating sites for people living with herpes are helpful or harmful and if it’s really that much scarier simply dating in the real world and taking your chances with rejection. I’m sure I’ve even lightly discussed it here before. There are loads of factors that still keep me on the fence with my opinion and I’m open to both sides of the argument. I want to break down my opinions here because I think many of us wonder what the best route for dating is for us in this situation, yet we simultaneously don’t want to feel like our dating lives have to be that much different simply because we have herpes. It’s a conflicting, complicated issue.
Pros of STD dating sites: The pressure of having the “talk” with your date is eliminated. There’s comfort knowing that your big secret that you think will potentially ruin the future of your new relationship is off the table. From experience, dating another person that also has herpes can be extremely relieving. I felt this person could relate to my experiences and vice versa, I felt a sex life was going to be far less complicated, and I felt the ability to open up more deeply, more quickly, than with relationships where my partner did not have herpes or experience with herpes. These sites can take a lot of the guessing work out of dating with herpes I’d imagine. You’re not worried about what they’ll think, or say, or do, or how the relationship could be doomed over a part of you that’s out of your control. I think that can be a confidence booster and reinforce hope that someone will be accepting, because you both are in the same position.
Cons of STD dating sites: Personally, any site or group that feels like they have to stay within people that share an issue in a way breeds shame to me. I think a major question I have for these websites is are they helping people find other people like them to relate to? Or, are they telling people with herpes they don’t belong with people that do not have herpes? I can’t help but think that on some level these websites pigeonhole those of us living with herpes and make us think, consciously or subconsciously, that we now have a different dating pool than the one we were in before. As if herpes is the only compatibility factor in a relationship. Why do I have to feel I can no longer date whoever I want to date, herpes or not? I think these sites tend to give the impression that we’re different and that we no longer get to be picky about who we want to be with because we’re at the mercy of our dates “decision” about us.
Pros of dating in the real world with an STD: Dating in real life without any groups or sites telling you the people you’re allowed to choose from can be empowering. You’re able to go out with any human being you’d like to go out with. Here’s the super good news, you don’t have to tell your date right away if you’re not intimate with them and still getting to know them. I can’t tell you how many times I’m glad I have herpes because it means I can no longer rush my relationships or sex and have to get to know my date properly. And nine times out of ten my date and I aren’t compatible for many other reasons before I even tell them I have herpes and it can end there. I love knowing I’m able to continue asking someone out or vice versa, and getting to know them slowly, and not feeling ashamed or guilty of leading them on before I even know if I want to date them. We give so much power to the other person in this situation when we have importance too. I want to know I’m interested in my date not only because he accepts me having herpes, but because I’m interested in my date for who he is.
Cons of dating in the real world with an STD: Nobody wears signs on their shirt telling you what STD they have, if any. Rejection can be more common and can be more frightening because you’re unsure of the other persons experiences with STDs. Do they have any experience? Do they have an STD, too? Do they even know if they do or not? You’ll never know once you begin getting attached to a new date if the relationship will continue or not because you’ll never know what they think of dating someone with herpes until you find out by having the discussion with them. This is where dating someone that you know also has herpes can be far easier. But it’s still not the worst thing in the world. If somebody rejects you over this and doesn’t want to be with you, why would you want to be with them anyhow.
Basically, I’m still on the fence. I’m even toying with the idea of trying out a herpes dating site in the future when I’m ready to date again, because how can I truly know what I think until I try it, right? I still think I’ll always prefer dating in real life and making my own decisions about who I’m interested in pursuing without letting herpes dictate my life. I’d love to know anyone else’s opinions on this though, feel free to share!