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Tweet Image: He'd been scanning through the survey answers associated with my profile, and one response in particular gave him pause: It wasn't some carefully considered stance on sexual transmitted infections, or grand statement about herpes. For him, however, it was a potential deal breaker: As you've probably figured out by now, my suitor was a member of that vast group of sexually active adults who've been infected with herpes.
The internet was supposed to be transformative for people with incurable, but highly preventable, STIs like herpes simplex virus HSV who wanted to date while being open about their status. There's no question that these sites which have even spawned their own Tinder-like apps are a fantastic demonstration of how innovative online dating platforms can be. But even as they bring together a number of people living with STIs, they don't seem to do much to improve general education about living with herpes and other STIs.
And as a result, people going online in search of connection and support often end up feeling stigmatized, isolated, and more alone than ever. So what does help? Not surprisingly, education, honesty, and openness.
And in the beginning, that seemed to be the case. Hoping to improve her prospects, or at least connect with people in a similar position, Ellie turned to the internet. But despite the promise of community and support, she found that STI-focused dating sites just made her feel worse. And since these sites' only criterion for joining was an STI diagnosis, members didn't really have that much in common aside from their diagnosis, which many seemed obsessed by.
Ellie noted that "it was more of a group therapy site than a dating site. Nothing about it was sexy. More troublingly, the sites seemed less likely to unite people with STIs than to divide them into cliques.
This is not to say herpes condemns you to a depressing, dateless existence. It's just that corralling people with STIs into a corner of the internet, while making no attempt to improve education around the reality of what an STI diagnosis actually means, doesn't really do much to change the situation. MPWH might offer community in the form of blogs and forums, but since much of the content is user-generated, the site's tone is set by panicked people who are convinced they're dating outcasts—rather than, say, a calm, knowledgeable expert there to educate and reassure the site's members that everything is okay.
MPWH staff do contribute posts to the site, but they can be poorly written and full of misspellings, hardly an encouraging sign for site members. A staff post from the Meet People With Herpes forum. As a result, these sites merely serve to segregate people who have herpes from people who don't or don't admit it , further cementing the erroneous idea that a common viral infection somehow makes a person permanently unfuckable—when, in fact, a combination of medication, condoms, and avoiding sex during outbreaks can make sex with herpes fairly safe certainly much safer than sex with someone who blithely assumes they're STI-free.
Not surprisingly, education, honesty, and openness about the topic of herpes. Despite their initial fears, both Ellie and Ann have gone on to have awesome sex with amazing people—none of whom they found by explicitly seeking out other people with herpes.
That's the other problem with sites like MPWH: Tinder, duh. It's worth noting that it can take some time to get to the point where you're comfortable dating in the wild with herpes: Ellie found that dating European men, who in her experience are less burdened by cultural baggage around herpes, helped her regain her confidence.
Ann worked through her shame in therapy and is now "really open IRL about my diagnosis which I think has really helped my friends who also get diagnosed.
However, that does not mean that you can ignore your infection. Genital herpes can be transmitted even in the absence of symptoms.
That's something you already know. In fact, it was probably how you became infected with the disease. When you are first diagnosed with genital herpes, you may want to find someone to blame.
Try not to. Most people with herpes have no symptoms. Therefore, your partner may not have known that he or she was putting you at risk. If, however, you are in a relationship with a person who knew that he or she was infected with the herpes virus and lied to you about it, that's a different story.
You might want to consider whether or not they are someone you can trust. Before you judge your partners, however, evaluate your own actions. Were you responsible for STD testing? Did you always practice safer sex when it was appropriate? Did you disclose any sexual health issues before you had sex with each new partner and ask about his or her own history?
No matter how tempting it is to start throwing blame around, you may decide that it's unfair to hold others to standards you cannot uphold yourself. Many people don't disclose herpes infections not because they don't want to. That can make it very hard to talk about herpes when dating someone new.
Unfortunately, it usually only gets harder over time. When they've waited until later in a relationship, many people start wondering, "Will they blame me for not talking about my herpes infection earlier?
Telling your partner you have genital herpes may be one of the hardest things about living with herpes. Whether you have been together for years, or you're just starting out, the conversation will be difficult.
Start by being comfortable with the information yourself. Know how herpes is transmitted and how you can reduce the risk of giving it to your partner. If you have been together for a while, recommend that your partner is tested for the virus. If you are starting a new relationship, testing is still a good idea. Because condoms aren't percent protective against herpes, there's always the possibility that you will pass the disease onto your sexual partners.
Consistently using male or female condoms and other barriers for all sexual contact, including oral, anal, vaginal, and manual sex will greatly reduce the risk of transmission. So will taking suppressive therapy. However, both you and your partner should remember that you can transmit the virus even if you don't have any symptoms. Herpes doesn't need to be the end of your sex life. Safe-sex techniques are not percent effective. You should also avoid sex when you feel itching or tingling under your skin or other symptoms that suggest the herpes sores are soon going to appear.
Dating with herpes can be stressful. It may be more difficult to find new partners. But when you are open and honest about your infection status, there will continue to be people who want you enough to take the risk. There are also dating services specifically for individuals who have been diagnosed with herpes and other STDs.
Remember, one in six adults is infected with the herpes virus. Herpes dating , and finding someone to love, may not be nearly as difficult as you think. However, even if you have both been diagnosed with genital herpes, it is still wise to practice safer sex.
That's true for oral sex as well, as herpes can be transmitted through oral sex. Cold sores , which are oral herpes, can be transmitted to the genitals and vice versa.
I decided to work on myself and become the person I wanted to be whilst in a relationship rather than focusing on what I could get out of a relationship. I enrolled in a course called Avatar which is about exploring consciousness and discovering any limiting beliefs which hold us back in our lives and I began working on being the best person, friend, and partner I could be. It was important to me to have integrity with my dating so I utilized Positive Singles while I was working on myself I am learning to take it day by day.
I refuse to let it define me. Or limit me. I will not be reckless, but I will be adventurous. I will always disclose my status to potential partners- it has separated the sincere from the strictly sexual already. I know that I will still find real love, the love I deserve I am not just STD. I am funny. I am strong.