A Guest Blog
Like many millions of people around the world, I am looking for love. Like many, I have suffered the breakdown of a marriage and raising a child to find myself in my mid-thirties back out on the dating scene again. And let me tell you A LOT has changed in the last 15 years… least of all the fact I now have something about me that adds to the stress of dating and it’s not being a parent!
Short story version, after splitting with my husband of 12 years I find myself in a bit of a whirlwind romance with a new super shiny romantic man and like a bolt out the blue I was, for the first time ever, swept off my feet. However, Disney didn’t write this story, so 4 months later I didn’t end up with my emotionally unavailable prince charming. What I did end up with was an STD. Not uncommon in the modern world and many of us may have had an embarrassing visit to the Dr’s at some point in our colourful sex lives. However, mine was not as simple as a course of antibiotics and no one is any the wiser.
I have chosen to not go along with the old school thinking and make this a big deal and allow it to alter my quality of life in any way. I contracted Herpes Simplex Type 2, otherwise known as the common cold sore… just down there. When you explain it like that many people’s reactions is “is that all” however, of course, that’s not always the case. The hype and stigma around STD’s and especially Herpes is horrific considering there are much more harmful things out there in the battle of finding happiness and love.
Finding out someone is a liar, or a cheat, or experiencing a relationship with a narcissist can be devastating and emotionally difficult to deal with. Yet old-school thinking likes to marginalise people with H and believe that people like myself have even less to offer. WE DO NOT I can assure you.
Healthwise, apart from taking a suppressive dose of antivirals daily along with my morning vitamins my life is pretty much the same as before. Thankfully my medication keeps all my symptoms at bay and lets me get on with living a completely normal uninterrupted life and sex life.
So far only one person I have told has had a reaction where they didn’t want to continue a sexual relationship with me because of it. I have however encountered people who have received horrible reactions from people upon having the sensitive conversation with potential new partners, and for this, I can only blame under education and stigma stopping for what otherwise may have been the start of a blossoming relationship. The good news for those of us with H is that we can get to find out how accepting people can be very early on. This can be a true blessing in the modern dating world, as everyone is now so time sensitive and can feel like they over-invested or have wasted their time on the wrong people if things don’t work out as they expected or hoped. So, if you worry about wasting time on someone and finding out someone’s true character maybe try asking them if they would date someone with an STD when you first meet? See what reaction you get? Even if you don’t have one, trust me it’s a real game-changer in the challenge of finding out the character of a person from the get-go.
Let’s fast forward to how having H practically works within the wonderful world of dating and sex… the debate has raged time and time again in the online support groups I am a member of… to tell or not to tell??
My personal approach of it’s not a big deal because my virus is suppressed through medication, means that if I am embarking on something casual sexually, and I am not asked about my sexual health, I feel no need to share this info any more than I would share with a random snog in a nightclub if I suffered mouth cold sores. Everyone should take responsibility for their own sexual health and chose to ask potential partners about sexual health checks and precautions etc. This still obviously involves a degree of trust, as someone could still lie should you choose to not use protection for casual sexual encounters.
However, when seeking love and a deeper connection this throws in another level of trust issues and vulnerability. This is the bit where, I won’t lie, I get a bit uncertain of myself. How much of this is to do with having H and how much of it is to do with actually opening up to someone I think I am still trying to work out, is unclear. At what point do you know if someone is worth telling? At what point do you know if they want the same as what you want from the relationship? These factors will be different in every encounter, but I would say for me I have decided that when I think this person has serious potential for a relationship it’s important to be honest before any sexual contact takes place. I do not want to be emotionally involved with someone who would keep things from me so why would I from them? I want someone to share my intimate world with so I need to know early on if this is possible. This isn’t everyone’s view and honestly, there is no right or wrong, you just need to do what is right for you.
Luckily (the only reason why I say luckily is because I really like this one) my most recent conversation took place on the 2nd date and was greeted with not only a response of that makes no difference to me, but also the response of “yeah It’s possible I have it too” - music to my ears as not only have I been able to be totally open and honest but was also blessed with a warm lovely feeling of being fully accepted for being me… cold sores n all.
It’s not all bad out there in the dating world, even with an STD. There is still the possibility of finding love with a genuine person who wants exactly the same things from life as you do, as long as you are brave enough to fully and authentically do you and allow the other person the same rights.