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Friday, May 9, 2014

23

A Chronological List of Things Men Said to Me After I Told Them I Had Herpes

When I was diagnosed with herpes on my 23rd birthday (happy birthday to me!), I was devastated and thought no one would ever want to have sex with me or date me ever again. Six years later, here is a chronological list of what each of the people I’ve dated have had to say when I told them.

1.

“What,” my upstairs neighbor said when I pulled his hands out of my underwear, “I’m clean.” It felt like someone had put an icicle through my stomach. I slid out of bed to cry in the bathroom. The next day I knocked on his back door and crawled into his bed. “Was it what I said?” he asked. I told him slowly and hid my face when the words left my mouth. “It’s okay,” he said, several times, but he never tried to touch me again.

2.

“I still I want to have sex with you,” my beautiful coworker said after telling me about his open relationship. The sex never happened because it turned out to be less of the “bite in if you see a really nice piece of fruit” type of open relationship and something more akin to a supermarket sweep.

3.

“I’m cute and have a full-time job and like riding bikes and also have herpes: I can’t be the only one,” my Craiglist ad read. He was in the same situation. We met at a bar and talked for hours, went on an awkward dinner date and kissed by the train. We finally got around to talking about it on the third date, drunk off two-dollar High Lifes. He pushed me up against the wall in a move that felt comical with lack of chemistry. I noticed the other day that we're still connected on LinkedIn.

4.

It was the fourth date. He had a smile that made my stomach dip. The night before had ended in a fully clothed sleepover and I knew it was time to tell him. It took a half hour, and his forehead got more and more creased with worry as he wondered what it could be. When I finally said it, a look of relief crossed his face. “It’s 2009,” he said. Three days later we broke his bed.

5.

“Here’s the thing,” I said to my high school boyfriend over the telephone, drunk and heartbroken and sitting on my kitchen floor. I don’t remember what he said then, exactly, but I recall a feeling of relief that didn’t last through the awkward sex we had on his roommate’s futon when I was home at Christmas.

6.

“We aren’t going to have sex,” I told the second-round OkCupid date who wanted to sleep over. I put on a vintage muumuu and pulled my hair up, but we were all over each other anyway. I cried after I came from his fingers because I knew I needed to tell him. He touched my hair and we kept kissing. He had a long, skinny penis that didn’t feel as good inside of me as I wanted it to. I never saw him again.

7.

Fourth date. I’d refused to let him touch me in the early morning a few days before. “Let’s talk,” I said, and pulled him around to the back stoop of the bar we were at. It was quick but not entirely painless. He was on the step below me and cocked his head up. “That is not even a thing,” he said, and I believe him because despite never making it to the stage of sleeping together we’ve been friends for years now.

8.

Fourth date. I didn’t cry, for once, and felt strangely proud. We were sitting on the steps of a church on the boulevard. “So here is a reason it probably won’t work,” I said. He had a rare autoimmune skin disease. “Let’s talk to our doctors,” he said. Both our doctors came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a great idea. We both cried when we admitted it to each other because it is hard for your body to make decisions for you.

9.

Fourth date. No crying. We were in my bed. “Okay,” he said, and his mouth was all over me moments later. We dated for a year, stopped using condoms after we got HIV tests, and never had a problem.

10.

Winter got to us and turned our few years of friendship into something more. It started slowly: a college-style sleepover, roaming hands. When we kept breaking the boundaries we set I knew it was time. He was quiet. “Let me think about it,” he said, and returned the next day after talking with a friend of his who teaches sex ed. The sex was just as awkward as the rest of our year-long relationship.

11.

He was feeling bold and pinned me to the bed at a friend’s party. I was feeling bold and told him that night, hours later in his bed. He was a friend; I was intoxicated. “It sounds like you feel ashamed,” he said, indicating that I shouldn’t. He held me as I passed out, and I felt vaguely embarrassed the next morning.

12.

It took four hours. He was the first boy I ever kissed, and all these years later I found myself in both his bed and his life. He’d known me for so many years and I didn’t want him to think of me differently. I cried twice, and when I finally spit it out I have no idea what he said. He may not have said anything. I was laying on top of him. He was gentle. He understands everything. We’re getting married next summer.

An Anonymous Lady is feeling good.



23 Comments / Post A Comment

Diana Clarke@twitter

Oh. This was beautiful and made my chest hurt.

40801862@twitter

If you go to http://www.hsvdatingclub.com and tell men you have herpes, they should be happy to hear this.

mattewmc

Amazing! <3 xxx @t

Lemming

Thank you so much for writing this. My fear of telling new people since I was diagnosed a year ago has caused me to just not bother with dating much, and it eases some of the fear to read about you going through it again and again.

Lora Enfield@facebook

This was so so good. I almost cried. Thank you for sharing. Also...please tell me that Bart Simpson cake was really your 23rd birthday cake.

thankyourodserling@twitter

yes, thank you so much for sharing this.

Cha dTuigim

This is wonderful.

hedgehogerie

Made my eyes well up. :'-)

Lucienne

Oh man, this was great and wrenching - but not wrenching all the way down. Thank heavens.

Gulfie

This is really beautiful and brave.

mumblesnbumbles

Thank you for this. I dread this conversation more than anything.

romancandles

I think you're brave. I'm glad you wrote about this.

Susan Tidebeck

What an epic drama!

hannahs

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials; how exciting?! Have you ever had anyone tell YOU that they had herpes - or worse, accuse you of giving it to them?

These stories were heart-wrenching and perfect. Thank you.

alexmartin

Regardless of whether your single or your partner is having problems getting an erection, Jasmine Live Sex the need for filling your vagina with a penis will always be there. The great thing is, regardless of either of these situations, it is possible to have your sexual urges taken care of without a man's penis.

hihiyeah

The thing about herpes is that it's NOT A BIG DEAL. And I get so angry every time I think about it and all the stress and anxiety and unhappiness it has caused me and everyone else who gets it because a fucking drug company decided to stick a scarlet H on 25% of the sexually active population and made people put herpes in the same category of horribleness as HIV. I just wish that someone would publicly admit that they've got it, and the rest of us can publicly admit that we do too, and it won't kill anyone and let's stop making us feel like we aren't worthy of being in a relationship.

My experience of telling people has been similar to yours... Always awkward and nerve-wracking, but all but one of the guys I've told has been lovely and wonderful about it and have still had sex with me anyway. In a way, it's a blessing in disguise... I guess having herpes has prevented me from sleeping with sleezy, horrible men who don't actually care about me.

Belle de Mer

Hi everybody. You may not know this, but there is a thriving subculture out here of those of us who are members of Club H. We have a Meetup group in Los Angeles that is very active, get togethers all over the country, and network on FB and H Werks. You are not alone. Check out H Werks for friendship, support, information, entertainment, AND dating. www.social.hwerks.com

SandraCanDoIt

I got herpes when I was 23 also; that was almost 20 years ago now. It never gets easier to tell these people but the older the guys were the better their reactions to it was. Just as a bonus I also managed to get breast cancer and then ovarian cancer in my 30s which dwarfed the herpes anguish. I guess I'm just a lucky lady.

40801862@twitter

If you go to http://www.hsvdatingclub.com and tell men you have herpes, they should be happy to hear this.

mary85

Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article trattamentinaturali.com. Thanks! keep rocking!

herpesdatingfree

Many people living with herpes have the talk problem. I know some site like herpesdatingfree.org where people don't need to tell that they have herpes.

rockgirl

Beautifully written. It never gets easier to have the talk as you get older and the anxiety awaitng a person's response never changes.

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