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.
Your best bet is to disclose to a close friend or family member that you trust the first time you disclose. It will help for you to be telling someone you know and respect. Your first step is to get yourself educated. There’s lots of GREAT information at HerpesLife that you can print out, or go to the CDC website. Just make sure your sources are reliable. There’s a lot of really BAD information out there! Become informed about how it affects you, transmission rates, how you can protect others, how condoms are only 50% effective, etc. Knowledge is a huge way to boost your confidence. Look at the experience as a way to educate and empower your friend(s) so that they can practice safer sex if that helps you. Most people find that once they disclose to a friend, a huge weight is lifted off of them.
But what about dating, you ask? Telling a friend is one thing. Disclosing to someone you are just getting to know is a whole ‘nuther thing all together. The most frequent question we get here is “When???” The simple answer is, when you are ready, as long as it’s before you have sex.
This is where Herpes can become your Wingman (yup… read the post!). How? Because for one thing, it will force you to take things slower and really get to know a person, and they get to know YOU…. the wonderful, beautiful person you are … without the complications that sex brings. Because like it or not once we start doing the horizontal mambo, our hormones fog our brains and we tend to ignore all the red flags that may come up about this new person. So you slow things down, and one day you just know…. this really IS someone you can be vulnerable with.
That moment can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, because that realization makes you realize they *could* choose to walk away. But do know, it can also be one of the most beautiful, empowering, and amazing moments you ever have with another. You have to accept that the Herpes is, in all reality, just another deal breaker for some. But take it from someone who has coached a bunch of people through their first disclosures, if the person really truly loves you, there’s a really good chance that they will stand by you and love you no matter what. In that moment, you know you’ve found a keeper…. someone who will be with you through thick and thin…. and THAT is a beautiful feeling.