I am totally freaking out. I’ve been dating this guy for a few months. I really like him, and everything has been great… until we started fooling around, and I realized that something was wrong. After going to the gynecologist, I found out that he had given me genital herpes. I confronted him and he seemed apologetic, but I don’t know. He had to have known that he had it, and now I feel so betrayed that he didn’t tell me before we did anything. I’m mad at him, but I feel trapped in our relationship. Who is going to want to date someone with genital herpes besides someone else who already has it? Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore.
I don’t blame you for feeling betrayed and upset. If your boyfriend did indeed know that he had genital herpes, and didn’t warn you, that’s really messed up on his part. There’s nothing we can do to change the fact that he gave it to you, though, so now you have to learn to deal with it. Getting an STD or STI is scary and upsetting, but it’s also not the end of the world, especially when you get something as common as herpes.
First of all, you need to have a serious conversation with your boyfriend. It’s possible that he didn’t pass along his genital herpes with malicious intent. Maybe he thought that you wouldn’t like him if he told you the truth. What he did is absolutely still wrong, and you still have every right to be mad at him, but you need to figure out what his intentions were here if you really think he knew beforehand.
However, it’s also possible that he genuinely did not realize he had genital herpes. Genital herpes is one of the most common STDs ever, and the majority of people who are infected don’t even realize they have it. While you might automatically associate genital herpes with obvious sores, the STD oftentimes either has very mild symptoms, or none at all. It can be passed along even when no symptoms are present.
It’s up to you to figure out whether he really didn’t know or not. The only way you’ll know is if you talk to him. Trust your gut here – if you really think he knew and didn’t tell you, maybe he isn’t someone you should continue dating.
As for feeling trapped in the relationship: you’re not. Please don’t feel like no one will want to date you just because you have genital herpes. STDs do have a bad stigma surrounding them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone who loves you for you. There are even dating websites out there specifically for people with STDs or STIs! Here’s what you can do to learn to live with it: talk to your gynecologist. While there is no known cure for genital herpes, there are medications that can help reduce the frequency and duration of outbreaks. Also, always make sure you use a condom.
Another thing? Be honest with future sexual partners. Do you see how hurt and betrayed you felt after your boyfriend passed this along to you? Don’t do the same thing to someone else. It’s a hard conversation to have, but it’s the right thing to do. If your partner truly cares for you, they will stick around, I promise.
I really don’t want you to ever feel badly about yourself because you have genital herpes. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re trapped in a relationship with this guy because no one else will want you. You’re a great person, and STDs happen – having one doesn’t make you any less of a human being.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org