I’ve long been a supporter of continuing to date any person you want to, even if you have herpes. I firmly believe there is absolutely no reason to feel inferior or unworthy of dating people that may not have herpes themselves. It’s also incredibly important, however, to inform your sexual partners about your STD status when the time comes to do so. However you don’t need to walk around with a sign on your face that says “I have herpes, still want to date me?”. It can  be difficult to determine when the best time to bring up having herpes is in new relationships. It’s a topic that tends to linger in your mind at the beginning of dating someone new before you even know them (at least for me). But I’ve found many instances where it was unnecessary to bring up my STD status at all.

Example: I’ve been dating regularly again, and I haven’t had to disclose to any of these men I’ve gone out with that I have herpes. Why you may ask? First, I make sure to avoid unnecessary intimacy with them as well as any situations that may lead to me putting myself into a tempting position. The second reason I wait to tell them is because I’m still getting to know them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out on a few really great dates thinking things could go somewhere only to realize within a few weeks that for whatever reason we’re actually not that compatible. My date and I would decide while getting to know each other through more public dates, that we weren’t all that interested in each other at some point. Why, then, would I bring up that I have herpes so soon? Giving myself time to know the individual I’m going out with on a strictly personal level and then going from there is much more simple. If I’m unsure if we’ll continue going out after the first few dates I hardly feel I need to disclose something so personal about myself so soon.

Most importantly out of all of this though is to be sure you are avoiding a sexual relationship when you’re first dating. If you’re diving into a sexual relationship or if that is all you are currently looking for (nothing wrong with that), it is imperative that you disclose your STD status before becoming intimate with your partner for their sexual health and safety. Nobody deserves being lied to and not given the choice to decide whether or not that’s a risk they want to take, because it is always a risk to some extent. I also know that these things happen. We tell ourselves we’ll play by all the rules and wait until we know that we want to date a person long-term before we’re intimate with them, only to find ourselves hopping into bed with them a few weeks into knowing them. Many of us also know that there’s still a large amount of people that flat out lie, the entire time, about having an STD because that’s how we ended up with STD’s ourselves.

None of this is about who is right or wrong, it isn’t black and white. Human beings are complex and the emotions driving some of our decisions aren’t always putting us in the best positions. But we live and learn and the real goal is to improve where we can. We need to try to improve our actions based off of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, not beat ourselves up over every little thing we did wrong and could’ve done better. I myself have made the mistake of not telling some of my sexual partners that I have herpes. I’ve also flat out lied once when someone asked me and then I immediately slept with the person I had just lied to, so I’m speaking from experience in what I’m saying.

There are many ways to handle our sex lives and it is up to us to make the best decisions for ourselves as well as the healthiest. We all have slip-ups, we all start off new parts of our lives without the experience to know what is and isn’t best to do. When I first contracted herpes I had no experience with what living with herpes was like and that is when I made the most mistakes. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned better ways to handle dating to prevent the pain and guilt that comes with making decisions that aren’t in our best interests for the long-term. I only hope more don’t make mistakes like I have by putting themselves in situations that become to tempting for them to do the right thing. A little sacrifice when first dating a new person goes a long way and it is only a minor adjustment to have to make in the grand scheme of things.