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.
Turns out we both had complaints about the photos that people post; we both agreed that, like it or not, you are “advertising” yourself on these sites and clear and accurate photos are necessary if you want more hits from people who have the potential to be attracted to you. My complaint was more that guys often post one fuzzy photo, or the light and such really doesn’t do the person justice, or that people say they don’t have a good photo and won’t post any. My date took it a bit further. It seems that we women are more likely to post all headshots, and/or photos of things like sunsets and our pets, and we omit a full-body photo (and by that he did not mean nudes or selfies in lingerie … he just meant a standing shot that shows your full profile). My date contended that, like it or not, men have their likes physically and that women are more likely to be hurt if the guy meets them and doesn’t like what he sees at that first date. Now, I know that there are those, like me, who really cringe at that thought (that men need physical attraction first, or at least as part of the whole package) but I have to admit that I have elected to pass on a date offer from guys who are just “not my type” . I’m trying to be a bit more open to guys who are on the outer fringe of my “ideal”, but the bottom line is, if I’m honest with myself, I’m just as guilty of going by what I see when I contact/reply to another on these sites.
Last night I was just chilling and reflecting on this guy and our conversations and I suddenly had a huge “Aha” moment …. because I suddenly realized that we all have something (likely many things) we would rather not “disclose” about ourselves to others until we really HAVE to …. that there I was happily thinking that I have no “disclosure” to worry about with this guy, when in fact, I DO have something that I am not secure about in myself when it comes to dating…. and that’s the extra 30-40 post-menopausal pounds I’m carrying. While I think it’s fair to say I carry them well (I’m a Swing Dancer so I do have *some* reasonable body tone and I am tall with a larger frame to start with) I definitely have developed a bit of a belly and thighs that I am somewhat self-conscious about, and that is stubbornly resisting all my attempts at exercise and diet to get rid of it. So I’ve selected photos that mostly don’t show that part of me, because (in *my* world) my strength is my personality, eyes, and smile …. and I’ve made sure to display that on my profiles. But when it comes to the first date, I agonize over what to wear that will show off the rest of me to my best advantage because one way or another some of that area will be “disclosed” and, if we hit it off, at some point, the clothes will come off and I will HAVE to disclose this thing that I don’t particularly like about myself and that I see as a “fault” or something that may be a deal-breaker to someone else. And that scares the CRAP out of me … more, I think, than disclosing Herpes to a H- date.
I think it’s important for those of us with Herpes to realize that the H disclosure is just another thing that we see as something that makes us “less desirable” for potential partners …. and that it’s just one of many insecurities that we ALL have to eventually “disclose” to a potential partner. There are many things that we worry/obsess about besides H: fat thighs, depression struggles, age, sexual preferences, perceived “faults” in our genital anatomy, family issues, past drug/alcohol struggles … there are sooo many things that we can see as making us less desirable, or damaged, or unlovable. Things that at some point of of the dating process will HAVE to be disclosed.
It’s not exclusive to dating … we all have things we want to disclose to friends or family about ourselves that we withhold for fear of being rejected. For me, this realization was a huge kick in the pants, because I pride myself in being transparent and as honest as I can HUMANLY be. And that, my friends, is the sticking point… because one of the things that is pretty exclusive to us humans is this self-judgement that we live with where we focus on our faults and do our best to hide them for fear of being rejected by another.
In the end, all we can do is to realize that the people that belong in our lives will love us even with our “faults”, because true friends and lovers accept that part of you, even if YOU don’t, and they may even see that part of you as beautiful, admirable, sexy or whatever. We need to remember that if they choose to walk away, it’s not about us … it’s just something *they* cannot live with…and the sooner we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open up to disclose that part to another, the sooner we will know if they are meant to be in our lives.
In the end, I realize that some man will come along who loves me, cellulite and all. If it’s not this guy, there will be another who will fall in love with ME …. faults, lumps, bumps, and every other imperfection that I may have. And the sooner I OWN that my body is not perfect any more (not to say I won’t keep working to get rid of the extra poundage) the sooner I will be able to scratch this issue off of the dreaded “disclosure” list.