How do you tell a potential partner that you have herpes?

Dear Dr. Amy:

I know you’ve been asked this a million times, but how do you tell a potential partner that you have herpes? I’ve not had any kind of physical contact and declined date offers since I realized I had herpes. I just don’t know how to tell someone or I don’s get myself into situations. For the first time in so long I actually kissed a man about a month ago and I couldn’t go any further. I don’t want what happened to me happen to anyone else because I know how it feels.

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Dear Sexless, 

As you have mentioned, your feelings about having herpes and concern about others’ reactions has caused you to try to avoid situations of a romantic nature. People with herpes often are fearful of relationships for precisely the reason you have stated-how to tell a potential partner. The sharing of information about yourself with a friend or lover increases as your trust grows. When you first meet someone, the first thing you tell them about yourself is not going to be negative information such as, “I can be moody at times”. The sharing of more personal aspects about yourself increases as you develop more trust in your relationship. Telling your partner you have herpes is the sharing of personal, sensitive information, thus timing is very important.

You might want to try to reframe your view of having herpes before you tell your partner. Instead of assuming that this news will end your relationship, to understand that there are millions of individuals who have herpes. Many of these people are actively involved in satisfying relationships and/or marriages. Try to view the total picture of yourself. You are much more than your herpes. Think about the positive and unique qualities that make you an interesting partner.

Since the holding of the secret about herpes is causing you to withdraw sexually, you might want to address this topic soon. Your partner will sense your holding back and may misinterpret this as rejection of him. Try to present the news in terms of what you still can do (you can even do this in a sexy manner). Be sure to express your feelings about having herpes so that your partner is aware that this is a sensitive issue for you. Because this is the first time telling someone, it will be difficult. Be prepared for either a positive or negative response. Most importantly, try to realize that being sexual with someone does carry emotional and physical responsibilities. Sharing about yourself will bring you closer (to the right person). I’m glad to hear that you are ready to start dating-it will get easier.


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