How to tell someone you have herpes or HPV? So, you start dating someone and you look for a way to tell them about your herpes or HPV. In our community, this is simply known as “The Talk.” Is it awkward and stressful? Of course it is! We are not going to try to sugar coat it. Will it be the most difficult thing you ever do? No, not by a long shot. It’s not the actual talk that causes the most stress, it is the buildup of anticipation beforehand that gets most people.
Say that you are talking to someone or just started dating and things are going well, really well. This is the perfect one for you and everything, now what? Here is where the awkwardness comes in aka “The Talk.” As things progress, you are eventually going to have to tell that person about your special circumstance. It is completely natural to totally freak out and think, “OMG! They are not only going to reject me but then they tell all my friends, too!” Go ahead, grab that paper bag and breathe slowly into it but continue reading!
There are endless ways on how to actually tell someone. You have to just figure out what you are comfortable with. If you do a Google search for Herpes and “The Talk,” you will see all kinds of ways to do it. Some are good and others are just downright strange. Telling someone over dinner is probably preferred over a dark, quiet room and handing them pamphlets and flow charts while putting on a PowerPoint presentation.
Tips on giving the talk:
Like opening that old container in your refrigerator , looking to see what you just ran over or being forced to see a Julia Roberts movie, you have to prepare yourself. It’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.
Sell yourself, not the herpes - When you do find yourself in a mutual attraction situation, think, “Of course they want to date me! I am smart, good-looking and even funny. I have got it going on! Who can blame them?” Keep this in mind as you are telling them. You are selling yourself, not the herpes.
There are three possible outcomes – After giving the talk, there are really only 3 possible outcomes:
- They say no – Rejection does happen. Besides, there are no guarantees that things would have worked out, anyway.
- They say yes – They are willing to look past your herpes and want to see where things go.
- They say – “I have it too!” While this one is in the minority, it is happening more and more. We have already heard of successful couples that have had this happen.
Either way, 2 out of 3 is pretty good odds so stay positive!
Don’t get discouraged – Not everybody is going to be open to the possibility of getting herpes. It is completely normal. It is not YOU they are rejecting, it is herpes. While unsettling as this may be, put yourself in the same situation and ask yourself if you would put yourself at risk. While you want them to be understanding, you will as well.
Why you need to give the talk:
You have the potential to affect another person for the rest of their lives. You can also affect any of their future partners as well. For most, getting a STD like herpes or HPV can be devastating. You do not want that on your conscience.
You are taking away their choice. Some people get herpes from an informed choice. They enter into a relationship with an infected partner and knew the risks. If you are like most, you discovered your herpes via a doctor or an outbreak. You, most likely, got it from a dishonest partner or a partner that did not know they had herpes. Medical professionals estimate that 1 out of 5 people have herpes and up to 80% don’t know they have it. Either way, you did not get the choice to get herpes. Don’t take that choice away from somebody else.
Besides the moral and ethical reasons of disclosing your herpes, there is another that has been gaining popularity. That reason is a lawsuit. Yes, people are not only suing partners for giving them herpes but they are winning settlements.
What to say:
This is the hardest part. How do you tell someone that you have herpes?
Well, luckily for you, commercials are making it easier! Have you ever been watching TV with friends and the Valtrex commercial comes on? As you try to make yourself as small as possible, the comments never seem to get old. “Hey Frank! Your commercial is on again!” Or the worst, “Ewww, that is just gross! I would NEVER date anybody with herpes!”
When giving the talk, use that popularity to your advantage! When the time is right, find a way to fit in “Look, I think you are a great person but before this goes any further, I will need to get my Valtrex prescription filled.” When you get that confused look, say, “You know that commercial. The Valtrex one that explains how 1 out of 5 people has herpes? Well, I am that 1 out of the 5.” Then wait for the long pause…they will probably ask questions.
Of course, that is just one way to tell somebody. Our fiends over at datingwithherpes.org also have other great suggestions.
After a night of Beer Pong, a few shots on $1 pitcher night, crawling into bed and telling someone you have herpes right before sex (or they pass out) does not count as giving them the talk. There are two points that you want to convey. First, they need to know and understand that you have herpes. Secondly, they need to know that they are still at risk. Being on suppressive therapy and wearing condoms can greatly REDUCE the risk but there are no guarantees.
For the small percentage of you that are reading this and are wondering…yes, you need to tell every partner. Just using a condom and wishing for the best will not cut it.
One of the best things about HWerks is that you don’t have to give the talk because everybody inside already has HSV and or HPV! We love to hear the successful talks but are also here for the ones that don’t go so well.