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Q: I've been seeing this girl and we've really been hitting it off. And then last night, she tells me she has herpes. Now, I'm freaking out. My head tells me to handle this like a mature gentleman. But my gut reaction is to ghost and never look back—I don't want herpes! What should I do? A: Finding out your partner has herpes can be a bombshell at any point in the relationship.
Then come the other questions:. But it is not nearly as unique or earth-shattering as you think it is.
No one wants herpes. But at the same time, it's not the end of the world. Not even close. Consider this:. HSV-1 is the one that usually causes cold sores around your mouth and lips. HSV-2 is the one usually responsible for genital herpes. And yes, herpes is forever. The prevalent statistics you encounter in drug commercials, sex ed, and PSAs are inconsistent and often confusing. However they, too, will retain the virus for life and be contagious.
Not just compared to everyone you know, but compared to your own life up to this point. Herpes is the modern day leprosy. We have a long tradition of shaming, ridicule, and misconception to thank for that. From Shakespeare and South Park to sex ed and parodies of Valtrex commercials, herpes has been treated unfairly by mass society. This is between you and your girlfriend, fiance, wife, boyfriend, husband, life partner or whatever.
You have the opportunity to be open-minded about this. First, is your partner a slut? Is she cheating on you? By sleeping around and having unprotected sex? According to the CDC, most herpes transmissions occur when the infected person shows no symptoms and may not even know they are infected. Remember, over 1 in 6 people have HSV Dwelling on how someone got herpes is wasted mental and emotional energy, when really, you should be focusing on the next steps for your relationship in the here and now.
Do you search back in your memory for which doorknob you touched that might have been infected or which person sneezed in your vicinity? And that's because there's no stigma and shame associated with catching the cold or the flu. So, blame and origin is irrelevant, because those things are seen as unfortunate but part of being human — our bodies are resilient but not infallible, and the potential for infection and risk is present in almost everything we do.
The only reason we care about who gave it to us and when is because we shame people for how they got it — by having sex or engaging in sexual activities. When we take that away, we stop freaking out. Herpes is contracted through skin-to-skin contact and through sexual contact, including oral, anal, and vaginal. Staying in a relationship where you are negative and they are positive seems like playing with fire.
Eric M. A herpes prodrome are s that an outbreak is about to happen. Herpes prodrome include itchiness, tingling, burning, numbness, aches, shooting pains, and other sensations and can appear 30 minutes to a couple of days before an outbreak. When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high.
Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? Obviously yes. But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? That being said, you'll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. But you can get it pretty damn close. If nothing else, dating someone with herpes can seem like an inconvenience.
The need to always wear protection and be aware of outbreaks and prodromal symptoms is certainly unique. For most people, herpes outbreaks happen less and less frequently as time goes on. There are medications that can shorten or prevent outbreaks and reduce the chances of transmitting herpes to another person.
Coupled with a good understanding of herpes and a frank and open discussion with your partner, this can mean a very manageable relationship with herpes. Bottom-line: Is a long term relationship with someone with herpes a life sentence for protected sex?
Or is contracting herpes from your partner going to be an inevitability—not a matter of if, but when? That can't be answered definitively. I'm not going to sit here and guarantee that you'll never get herpes, either from your long term girlfriend or from a random hookup. But know this: many, many couples find a way to make it work. And they all sort of do it in their own way.
In a long term relationship where there is open communication, maybe even a little professional counseling people like Eric Garrison, or someone your doctor refersyou find your rhythm. You find the lifestyle and sex life that fits your comfort level. In the same way that no birth control method reduces the chances of pregnancy to zero, couples eventually find the right balance between caution and calculated risk. Some couples have sex with condoms every time, others only wear protection during outbreaks or simply avoid contact with the areas where the virus is transmittable.
Sores can appear around the mouth, on the genitals, on the thighs, or buttocks, etc. The recurrence of herpes outbreaks is variable—but they always reappear in the same site. Getting tested. You can get herpes tested by a primary care physician or at a health clinic. Herpes can be tested by taking a sample from a sore, or by taking a blood test to check for HSV antibodies.
The incubation period for herpes is usually 1 to 7 days but may incubate for longer, even weeks, before showing any symptoms. Yes, of course it is. You can break up with someone because their mother is awful or because of the weird way they eat ice cream or because they have different job and family aspirations than you. People are not defined by their sexually transmitted infections and neither are relationships. For the vast majority of the days in your lives, herpes will be a non-issue.
Chances are, attitudes about herpes will change in the coming decades. As a kid, I remember reading in the Bible about the way lepers were treated and thinking how foolish it was that these people were marginalized because they were wrongly believed to be unclean and contagious.
Are the conditions we stigmatize today much different?
Thirty years in the future, you might judge yourself differently for recoiling from herpes in ignorance. But, like I said, if this is something you don't feel calibrated to take on, or to take on with this specific partner, then you don't need to feel guilty about ending things.
Maybe you were already on the fence and then you got this news. If you're still not sure how to handle things, try giving it some time to mull it over. Maybe even hang out with her again — maybe you'll realize she's actually a terrible listener and not what you're looking for in a partner anyway. If you do decide to go separate ways because of herpes, my suggestion is to be as respectful as possible.
What does that mean? Don't ghost her.Herpes dating advice
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