Category Archives: Relationships and Herpes

Protecting Your Partner When You Don’t Want To Take Anti-virals

Anti-virals like Valtrex and Zovirax and Acyclovir are a God-send for many …. and as someone who got Herpes before all these things were available, I know that they have helped many to get through the early stages post-diagnosis and have helped to give H+ partners something to help to protect their partners from getting the virus. But not everyone wants to take medication … and there are those who just don’t do well on them. I see a lot of questions about how to protect partners without taking the meds …. so here’s a list of the most useful and best known things that you can do to reduce the risk of passing it on.

  • Condoms – reduce the risk by 50% … but that number depends a LOT on where your OB’s are. So if your OB’s are on the boxer shorts area, don’t rely on them to protect your partner (but you should still use them to protect YOU from getting anything else!)
  • No sex with ANY knicks/cuts/irritation present on you or your partner. IE: if you have any breaks in skin, it’s *possible* that the virus could get into your partner’s system. This may sound “bad” but you can just look at those times as an excuse to explore other ways to get yer freak on, so it can be a GOOD thing too 😉
  • Shaving/waxing: There’s a school of thought that H has increased with the advent of shaving, and there’s good reason to believe that there’s some substance in the thought. Shaving/waxing can create micro-cuts/tears/irritations to the skin which in the H+ carrier can bring on OB’s (and thus possibly induce asymptomatic shedding as well) and in the H- partner, it can create an open door to the nerves which host the virus. Also, when both partners have a “full bush” that would create a “buffer” of sorts from any areas that are shedding. So if you are a shaver, perhaps you might at the very least want to go to using a trimmer/electric shaver that doesn’t irritate the skin, or perhaps the depilatory creams that are out there.
  • Be sure to use plenty of lube and be cautious with rough sex … esp if it leaves you a bit raw…. which can trigger an outbreak.
  • Try to keep stress levels down.. H LOVES stress!
  • Vitamin B-12: Medical research in England found that many people with cold sores were low in B12. Studies found that by adding 250 mcg. of B12 the condition improved rapidly. This research also suggested taking B complex supplements with emphasis on the B12 and folic acid. It follows that this could well help to reduce OB’s and/or shedding for genital HSV2 … it certainly won’t hurt anything and you might find that you at least have more energy!
  • Take L-Lysine supplements – for *some*, this reduces OB’s significantly so it likely would reduce shedding as well (though you will never know for sure).
  • Use H as a good reason to learn other ways to be intimate. Tantric sex requires no insertion at all and can be VERY hot. Use role play and toys and porn and whatever else works for the pair of you … this can open up a whole world that you might miss if you never had to consider alternatives to “vanilla sex” 🙂

So you can see that there’s a TON of ways to protect your partner … and the bottom line is that a life well lived entails some risk of things “going wrong”. You get in your car every day, take “precautions” (Put on the seat belt, obey road rules, etc) and you could STILL get broadsided and get hurt or killed. So try to see this is a lesson in learning to accept that you don’t have complete control over everything. All you can do is to reduce the risk as best as you can, make sure your partner is well informed and knows the risks, and then get on with life….. 😉

Peace

Article: What It’s Like To Tell Guys That You Have Herpes

Inspiring doesn’t even start to describe how I felt when I read this beautiful blog/article on Women’s Health Mag online.  Written by a beautiful young college student by the name of Ella Dawson, it tells of her experience of living FEARLESSLY with Herpes.

Starting with her diagnosis where she quickly that despite feeling very alone, she was FAR from being the only person with Herpes

When I looked up the statistics on how common herpes is, the math didn’t add up: If one in six people had genital herpes, how was I the only person I knew to do the ultimate walk of shame from the student health center clutching a stack of STD pamphlets? Further Google searches opened my eyes to the powerful and invisible stigma associated with sexually transmitted diseases.

To her resolve to push herself to be ok with saying “I have Herpes”

I was sick of making myself small because I had herpes. Six months after my first outbreak, I started dropping the “herpes bomb” into conversations casually. My logic was that every time I told someone, “I have herpes,” the words would get easier to say.

To her favorite disclosure

My favorite disclosure happened when a guy made a herpes joke while chatting me up at a party. He offered me the rest of his expensive beer and said with a wink, “Don’t worry, I don’t have herpes or anything.” I had a choice to make. I could laugh his comment off and pretend it didn’t hurt, but that would mean laughing at myself. Or I could steer into the skid and stop being so afraid of what people thought.

“That’s funny,” I said, with as warm a smile as I could manage. “Yeah, that’s really funny. Because I have genital herpes.” His face crumbled. Not because I grossed him out—I could practically see the wheels turning in his brain as he realized he’d made an ignorant joke at someone else’s expense. The guy started apologizing profusely.

Isn't she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!
Isn’t she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!

Ella has hit the nail on the head about why there is so much stigma surrounding having Herpes and why we need to learn that when someone makes a joke about Herpes, it’s not personal (see my blog about Herpes Jokes for my POV on how to handle them)

The thing is, this stranger wasn’t intentionally making fun of me. He wasn’t making fun of anyone because most of us don’t associate herpes with actual people. …….. I had seen in the flesh what a simple “I have herpes” could do when said fearlessly, without shame. Because when a real person—a woman you know and respect—casually mentions having herpes, it stops being a punch line and starts being someone’s reality. The more I saw that understanding dawn on someone’s face, the less fear I felt. I wanted herpes to have a human face, and I wanted it to be mine.

I think I cried a little when I read that, because I work every day with young women (AND men!) who have bought into the Herpes Stigma and who have gone from confident, radiant souls to someone who now believes they have to “settle” for anyone who will love them … and that is soooo far from the truth…

Ella’s last statement echos my own experience with being out and confident with my H+ status

Every time I tell someone that I have genital herpes, I run the risk of it being the only thing they remember about me. But when I tell them on my terms, with confidence and cleverness instead of shaking hands and shame, I am immediately positioned to get a better response.

And finally, I couldn’t have put it better…

When you disclose having herpes, generally whomever you’re disclosing to follows your lead…….

Amen sister! Please, read this blog … it may well change how you look at Herpes – whether you have it, or you know someone who has it ..

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/dating-with-herpes

Peace Out!

 

Dating Online: My Personal Experience With Being Out and Proud

Just over a year ago, I hit a wall and an epiphany at the same time. Previously, like most people with herpes, I had approached herpes with the alternating depression that I would have to disclose and the fear of being rejected. After 35 years with the virus though, I had finally figured out a few things:

  • That rejection was not about me.
  • That most people are woefully ignorant not only about herpes, but STD facts in general so their reaction told me a lot about who THEY were and whether I really wanted them in my life anyway.
  • That I wasn’t ashamed of having herpes.
  • That I no longer wanted to hide in a closet of shame and fear.
  • That I wanted to just be my fully authentic self.
  • That I was tired of the stigma.

Continue reading Dating Online: My Personal Experience With Being Out and Proud

Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.  Harvey Mackay

One of the main fears that seems to surface with the people I coach after Herpes diagnosis is the dreaded disclosure talk and the corresponding fear of rejection. Suddenly any other reason that might cause a potential partner to reject them goes out the window and the whole focus of their being goes into the mis-guided belief that Herpes makes them dirty, unlovable, tainted, or whatever, and that NO ONE will ever want to love them.  I can tell you from coaching many people and seeing them grow and face their fears that it’s just not true. We have several  Success Stories on the Herpes Life Forum every week … and interestingly, far, far fewer Rejections! I have yet to ever come across any proof that Herpes will keep you from finding love. Yes, it may add one extra speed bump to the process, but my observations have been that many people feel that when they DO find love with H, it’s deeper, more fulfilling, and better than any love they have ever experienced…but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog! Continue reading Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Disclosure: It’s Not Just About Herpes

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.      Jane Austen

I went on a date this last weekend with a gentleman who I met on an online dating site for people with Herpes and other STD’s. It’s sort of ironic that this potential partner is H+ because I really don’t pay much attention to that dating site and I’m much more active on the “regular” dating sites like POF and OKC, and because I counsel the newly diagnosed all the time about not limiting yourself to H+ potential partners. Suffice it to say that in the last few years of dating, I’ve only dated 2 H+ guys. So normally the “Disclosure” conversation at the top of the list is about Herpes. Why do I say “Top of the list”? Because I had a huge revelation last night around a conversation that I had with this man about online dating profiles. Continue reading Disclosure: It’s Not Just About Herpes

Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

To walk across the street is a risk.     Mikhail Baryshnikov

So often I see people beating themselves up for acquiring Herpes. The majority of the time, they were just plain blissfully ignorant about the risks, about the fact that we are not automatically tested for H in the STD panel, or they just plain got caught up in the moment … (Damn Hormomones!!!).  Many get HSV1 from oral sex because they didn’t know that cold sores could head South (and their “giver” often didn’t know either and/or didn’t know they had the virus because they got it as a child). Others are told by their partner that they are safe as long as they are not having an outbreak,  because that is what their Doctor told them. The vast majority of Herpes transmissions are a result of inaccurate information combined with the fact that 80% of the population has no idea they have H. Then, once they get Herpes, they obsess (understandably) about passing it on. Even when you point out that with anti-virals and condoms, the risk falls to about 1-5% (depending on your gender), they are deathly scared about getting in a relationship and passing the virus on to their new partner. So they vow to either become celibate (also perhaps to punish themselves for being so “stupid”), or to only date someone who has H. The problem is, they have forgotten that if you are living life, you are ALWAYS living with risk. The secret here is that once you are educated, you have the power to reduce that risk to an “acceptable” level. Ignorance, as we H+ folks know all too well, is the cause of the vast majority of new cases of Herpes. The following is something that I tell people all the time who are obsessing on the risk factors of passing Herpes on, or who are beating themselves up for having acquired H. Continue reading Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

When Should I Disclose?

The question of when to disclose is a very personal thing. Some people don’t tell anyone (not recommended… you need to know that you ARE accepted with H!), some tell their best friend or their mother, and a few, like me, are totally “out”. There is no right way to be around this. You know what is right for you.

One of the most terrifying aspects for many newly diagnosed is how they will tell someone, anyone, about their condition. They can’t imagine that anyone would still love and respect them now that they are “tainted” and “dirty”. They allow their perception of the stigma to convince them that there is no way anyone will understand.

So first of all, think of it this way. Suppose your best friend came along before you got Herpes and confided in you that they have Herpes. How would you have thought about them? Would it change how you felt about them? If you are a true friend, it wouldn’t change anything. You may think they were careless or that their partner choices were questionable … but odds are you would still love and respect them and support them as best as you could. Continue reading When Should I Disclose?

Using Herpes As Your Wingman

This is a blog that I wrote for Adrial Dale’s Herpes Opportunity website. H (Opp) is an amazing resource for anyone who wants information and support (the FORUM is a safe place where you can go to ask questions, get support, rant, and send anyone who needs Herpes info), as well as to print out Handouts and E-Books for anyone who could use a quick factual reference.

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I know you may not be able to imagine this right now, but Herpes really CAN become your Wingman in both your dating and regular life.  The definition of a Wingman is “… a role that a person may take when a friend needs support with approaching potential partners. A Wingman is someone who is on the “inside” and is used to help someone with intimate relationships.” (from Wikipedia)

However, I’m going to extend the definition of a Wingman to being someone who can help you to attract good people into your life while also helping you to detect and remove the negative and toxic people around you. Great you say… so how the heck can Herpes do that for me?

The Fear of Rejection and How  it Controls Us

Every time we disclose to someone, whether it be a friend or a potential mate/lover, we put ourselves at risk of rejection. That fear of rejection is what keeps most people from talking to anyone about their condition. It’s what forces so many people into the “Herpes Closet” where they live in fear and shame. I’ll tell you, a “Closet” is a lonely, unhealthy place to live.

So let’s look at rejection. Rejection is a very powerful emotion. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful emotions in the animal kingdom. It’s what keeps herd/pack/group based animals in line. It’s what keeps the majority who are lower position in the pecking order from breaking the “rules” of the group. It’s what certain societies/group use to manipulate people into behaving. Just think of the Quakers and how they employ “Shunning”.  Anyone who breaks certain Quaker Laws is kicked out and their FAMILY is forbidden to talk to them or me in any contact with them. Talk about manipulation of the psyche! AND, it works very well!!! Many who try to break free go back and submit themselves to months or years of doing “repentance” to work their way back into the group.

The fear of rejection from a friend, from family, a potential lover, or society in general is what keeps people in what some will call a “Closet”.  As Ash Beckham said in this Ted Talk: “A closet is just a hard conversation that you need to have”.  So fear of rejection is essentially what is keeping you, and most of the people who have Herpes, from opening up and talking to ANYONE about a condition that is, in essence (and according to any doctor you will talk to) a nuisance skin condition in an awkward place. How crazy is that?

The emotion of rejection has had a lot of press lately. It turns out that rejection elicits a response that actually causes us to FEEL pain because it stimulates the nerve pathways that communicate pain to the brain. Studies have actually shown that taking an Advil or similar can actually reduce that physical response when someone has been rejected.

So try this on: Have a conversation with someone where you talk about something that physically hurt you like an accident or an operation. Note that you get NO physical response/reminder of that pain. Now, tell them about your most recent break-up or fight with someone you care about. Note if/where you feel a physical response in your body. Odds are you will have some physical feeling ( a knot in the gut, tearing up, holding your breath, etc) that you likely get in those situations even though the event is in the past.

That is how powerful rejection is to us. The fear of rejection keeps us attached to people and situations that are toxic and unhealthy for us long after we should have walked away. And, knowing this, we can learn to change our behaviors and thought patterns so that we end up surrounding ourselves with amazing, loving, emotionally healthy people and relationships. Pretty cool, eh?

So, you ask: “How does this help me, and how can Herpes become my Wing-man?”

First, you have to understand that when people are or say ugly or nasty things in response to anything about you, that it’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s about their judgments, fears, ignorance, insensitivity, or need to control you or a situation. Learning to not take things that people say or do personally is a huge life lesson that almost everyone I know needs to learn to some extent.  And this is where Herpes can become your Wing-man.

The “Disclosure Talk” can become your practice session to help you weed out someone who might be controlling, judgmental, ignorant (and not willing to become educated) from your life. I mean, really, who wants that kind of person in their life anyway? If someone talks to you or about you to others in a nasty way about your Herpes (or anything else for that matter), they are likely saying and acting like that about all kinds of other things “about” you. And it so is not about you … it’s their judgement and negativity and jealousy that cause them to act that way. When you really, really get that to your core, life suddenly becomes a whole lot easier and less stressful!

So I am going to challenge you to try this on. Pick one friend… the one person you feel really has your back, but that you have not disclosed to. Ask them to come over or meet you for coffee or whatever. Get yourself properly educated beforehand so that if they have questions you can answer them. If you need “notes” then have a copy of the “Disclosure Handout” from the H (Opp) site with you. Start by telling them that you are entrusting them with information that you would appreciate that they keep to themselves (because right now I get it that you don’t want the world to know). And then practice your disclosure talk on them.

Now, there is a small chance it could backfire and they could get ugly and even tell everyone. But I’m willing to bet that 99% of the time they will be loving and understanding and supportive of you. And now you have someone you can talk to while you become more accepting of yourself… because a good friend will likely be more accepting of your situation than you are being right now. Once you have done it one time, you will find it gets easier with time. AND you will find that becoming accepted WITH Herpes by your friends will help you see your situation differently. The Herpes Stigma is ONLY as big as it is because we (H+ people) as a group have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we need to hide our condition because of our fear of rejection. The more positive conversations/disclosures that we have, the more the stigma goes away.

But what happens if they react badly? What happens if they call you a slut, tell you you are dirty, or go tell all your friends? It can happen. And you have to be ready for it. So I want you to think of it this way. If the person “rejects” you, that is a pretty good indication that, as Patty Stranger of the Millionaire Matchmaker says, “Your Picker is off.”  It’s Herpes way of telling you that you are surrounding yourself with people who you really don’t need/want in your life.

And yes, if that happens you may find yourself in a fast-track education about who your real friends are. In the long run you will be better for it. Knowing this can happen and being mentally prepared for it will also help the dust settle a lot faster. If YOU are confident about yourself and if you are ready to prune the “ugly people” from your life, then Herpes can be your litmus test of their friendship and their worthiness to be in your life and your inner circle.

So what about Dating and Disclosure? How does Herpes act as my Wing-man there?

It’s pretty much the same thing, except that you will eliminate those people from your life that much quicker and before you have developed emotional ties with them. How someone reacts to your initial disclosure will tell you a LOT about them. They are likely not emotionally tied to you (or they may be just starting to get there) so it IS easier for them to walk away.

So here’s the deal. You will likely get one of 3 reactions:

1) The Runner:  They can’t get away from you fast enough. The Runner doesn’t want to be educated, and is likely VERY undereducated about STD’s. To the point that there is a really good chance that they have one (and don’t know it) OR they will get one thanks to their ignorance. OR, they are a Class 1 Germophobe/Hypochondriac. Either way, good riddance. Odds are those are the ones I tell many people on the Forums that were not into YOU, they just wanted to GET into you. Anyone who is looking for a really solid, loving, long term emotional relationship will at least slow down long enough to listen to you and get educated. Which brings us to #2 …

2) The Listener: This one will at least give you a chance to talk, will ask questions, and will be interested in getting educated. Now, it’s no guarantee that they will stay, but it DOES tell you they are a decent human being. This one may have to go off and think about things…they may even disappear for a few says because most people have NO idea about the reality of what Herpes is and it CAN be scary. Give them time — and again, don’t take it personally if they choose to walk away. Odds are it was just as painful for them to walk as it is for you to hear their “reasons”. In the end, the truth of the matter is that they will walk for one of two reasons: Either they realized that they really are not that into you and that it isn’t fair to lead you on or that the chance of getting Herpes is just a deal breaker for them. And this is when you really have to understand that their choice is not about you! It’s their boundaries of what they are willing to live with. I for one won’t date a smoker or someone with kids. I’ve had several very wonderful potential partners come into my life who I have walked away from, not because they are disgusting for smoking or undesirable because they have kids. It’s just something I don’t want to have in my relationship … it’s about ME, not THEM … See?

Now, if the Listener eventually decides to continue the relationship, TRUST THEM that they are okay with taking the risk of contracting Herpes from you. Don’t sabotage the relationship by constantly fretting and worrying about whether they will suddenly change their mind. Just do what you can to protect them and ENJOY this wonderful person who accepts you AND your condition! This one has turned into a #3 …

3) The Keeper: This is the one who scoops you up in their arms and tells you it doesn’t matter about what you have, you will work it out and they will love you, blisters, Valtrex, and all. And THAT is what we all want in the end, with OR without Herpes! Someone who loves us unconditionally.

So you see, your Herpes Wing-man will eliminate the potentially unsuitable partners from your life a LOT faster than your “Picker” might do for you. By doing so it immediately opens you up for “The Keeper” to come along. And that is a beautiful thing. And along the way, you will become a stronger, more powerful version of yourself as you learn that when people behave badly towards you, it is NOT a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of THEM.

Peace Out