How to Talk About Herpes with Your Partner


Auntie Ozanne's Guide to Talking About Herpes

How to Talk About Herpes with Your Partner

So it happened.. someone gave you herpes and now you feel as if no one will want to sleep with you again. Now you fear you have to keep your herpes under control or skirt around it by refusing sex during your outbreaks all to prevent your next special-someone from finding out. You're angry, you feel like your health was put behind someone's selfishness and now you're paying for it.

The fact is, herpes is one of the most common STDs, and at this moment, almost 20% of all sexually active adults are carriers. Check for herpes information and statistics here.

But this probably isn't going to make you feel any better about the conversation you want to have with your next partner - as if fearing rejection for other reasons wasn't bad enough. Unless you opt in to STD dating sites where you know the people you will connect with are going through the same angst, meeting someone traditionally might make you anxious about how to have the talk with them about your herpes.

If any good can come from having herpes, it's the test of honesty and trust that you are willing to put up front for a new sexual partner. Think about it. Putting yourself out there, risking you will lose a potentially good partner, putting their health and decisions ahead of your desires - tells this new partner a whole lot more about you than the herpes itself. It shows you are being selfless and you have respect for them. You need to give your partner credit that they will find this to be a valuable trait if they want a relationship with you.

It is likely best that you have this conversation with your clothes on, and take a moment when you are not intimate to reveal that you have herpes. Here are some ideas to help make your herpetic coming-out a bit easier for both of you.

1. Talk about the past. Talk about your hopes and fears of things you've done, and include your herpes as something you wish you could change but can't. And make sure you reiterate that you are telling your partner this because you like them and respect them enough to share this with them.

2. Include humour. "Do you want the good news or bad news of what I'm about to tell you?... The good news is that I'm currently not having a herpes outbreak. The bad news is that I really am afraid if I told you this you'll hate me and never want to get involved with me."

3. Talk about condoms. Tell them you really wish you could have spontaneous sex, but you respect your partner too much to risk anything. This usually might have someone fearing the worst, but if asked, you can say, "It's just herpes, so no, it's nothing life threatening." (The truth about herpes is that is is a huge risk of transmitting HIV when outbreaks occur, otherwise the actual herpes virus is not life-threatening.) Know your herpes facts in case your partner has questions, and ease their mind about what herpes isn't, rather than what everyone thinks it is.

4. Don't act like it's the end of the world. Chances are, if your mood sours and you find yourself crying and upset to have to come clean, then it will naturally worry your partner and they will feel like this is horrible news. Don't give them any reason to worry, instead let them know this is a common STD and it doesn't affect your day-to-day life. You have a condition, and have outbreaks every couple of years (or whenever it is for you) and that's it. Yes, there is a chance your partner might eventually get it. It might be with you in this relationship through honesty - or someone else later on through betrayal. You have it, that's a fact, but your honesty is a fact too.

5. Your partner just might have it too and was too afraid to tell you. This communication opens up some doors to talk about many personal things that you and your partner both have bottled up. Perhaps they wanted to tell you they had genital warts? Getting this out of the way takes a great weight off both of your shoulders.

How to Talk About Herpes with Your Partner

6. Promise to be safe, and that you'll see your doctor. Let your partner know you are a responsible adult and you take your sexual health seriously. Agree to take HIV and other STD tests to ease both of your minds. Tell them that whenever you feel an outbreak coming on, you will immediately consult your doctor to take Aciclovir or any other antiviral medication to keep the outbreak at bay, and that you will abstain from sex or use condoms to make sure you don't put your partner else at risk. Not only are you showing honesty, but you are showing responsibility - two very important factors when it comes to a healthy relationship with someone. Just by being this careful and sharing this with your partner tells them you truly care.

7. Let them decide. Your partner might decide that they don't wish to continue a relationship with you because of herpes. Think about how you felt having your decision taken away when someone gave you herpes and you didn't know (this is unless you were in a relationship with someone knowing they were a carrier). If your partner chooses to leave, believe me, you made the right choice in being honest! Think of how things might have been if you had an outbreak and they didn't know. No one is right or wrong here. You made a very courageous decision to be honest, and your partner made a personal decision to leave. However -- don't be surprised if all your partner needed was a night to go home and think, research herpes, appreciate your honesty, and give you a call or text a day, apologizing, and tell you they want to see you again. They could very well be thinking that you are worth having a relationship with, no matter what.

How to Talk About Herpes with Your Partner

How to Talk About Herpes with Your Partner
Add Opinion

Most Helpful Guy

  • Anonymous
    I dated a girl with type two once its was no big deal, unprotected sex and valtrex and her being responsible. We broke up after 2 years I got a blood test right after, 3 months afther and then 6 months after (to make sure) and clean. been like 5 years from that Gotten tested many times and I got nothing.

    Quit being pussies, stop insulting people with STD's most the time it's not their fault and for those who want a devoted partner this is good news anyone that has an STD and doesn't get judged by someone they like are less likely to let you go or mess it up.

    My ex got hers from being raped by her fater and her uncle on multiple ocassions when she was 3- 9 years old. <--- for those who think only promiscuous get herpes.

    Also another point You never know who is around you that might be hiding and STD and to be honest if people where more accepting of this less people would get infected since less people would be worried about getting tested and telling people about it. Stupid sex education school system freaked kids out so much in hopes they don't have sex that this is the result.
    Is this still revelant?
    • Ozanne

      Wow what a courageous response. Thank you!

Most Helpful Girl

  • Anonymous
    Some of these comments are ignorance. I have only ever slept with/ been with one guy and he had only been with one other girl. What he didn't know was that she cheated on him while they were dating and ended up transmitting it to him. He never had an outbreak, never knew he had it. And now I have it and have to live with it after having only one partner (who I am still with and still love with all my heart).
    This take is very real. And completely hits home to a lot of the thoughts I have had about what I would do if I lost my boyfriend and had to be out in the dating world. I have had guys hit on me and all I can think is that even if I was single I wouldn't have a chance.
    Is this still revelant?
    • Ozanne

      You would have a chance, that is the whole point of this. Herpes is seen as this awful thing because you end up with sores on your genitals that is a reminder that someone else put them there. It's an embarrassing problem more than anything, and someone who has it seems to go through more ribbing than someone with a cold sore, which is transmitted from one person to another just the same, only not necessarily sexually. For some reason, oral herpes isn't such an issue yet it's the one that's noticeable. Herpes is simply not the end of the world, it's just a total nuisance - and most of that comes from the mental anguish people go through when trying to deal with it because of how people joke about it and tell people they'd never date you because of it. Honestly, the physical problem of herpes is almost nothing to be paranoid of if people just learned more about it.

    • Anonymous

      I know I will be able to find someone its just the idea of having to explain is heartbreaking. I have sat at work and listened to people talk about herpes, people who don't have it and don't know I have it, and talk about how dirty it is and how they could never in a million years date someone with it and it breaks my heart. I have only ever had one outbreak and I live in fear of when the next one will happen. I was in so much pain. And the constant fear of my parents finding out was the worst part.

    • Ozanne

      I wouldn't be surprised if many of those people joked about having herpes, don't already have herpes and know it. Sometimes people just want to appear to 'fit in' with the crowd and play it down. You are fine with your boyfriend and I hope you can last, it sounds like you're in love. But if the cosmos don't see it that way, really - don't worry. You will likely meet someone more understanding than you think, or meet someone who was afraid to tell you he had it too. :)

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What Girls & Guys Said

  • Scrambled
    Had to cancel a sex date with my hook up friend due to cold sores on my mouth. I was very honest and just said, look... can't use my mouth, I have this, and I feel ugly too, so next week;) I would be pissed if my partner hid anything away from me.
    • Ozanne

      Agreed. I think honesty trumps everything when it comes to STDs.

  • AshleyMD
    Honestly herpes is the least threatening STD, maybe a better take would be how to talk about deadly STDs and HIV?
    • It's also highly common and the most worried about. If you have a more serious one you should work on getting rid of it before even thinking about having sex with someone else and risk spreading it.

    • Ozanne

      ^ Exactly. Herpes has turned out to be a more social disease without life-threatening consequences. Those with HIV get counselled by their doctor on what their next steps are if they look for a relationship. The misconception about herpes is the problem, as you can see from some of these comments people would rather hide or break it off before getting it. There are more people with cold sores everywhere - yet those people seem to be acceptably "date-able" than someone with genital herpes. I wonder why that is. And yes, there are probably better myTakes all over GaG, but this one is about herpes and any other infections that are not life threatening, but through social stigma, are feared and misunderstood.

  • Red_Arrow
    Certainly one of the best My Takes. Thank you for your honesty and enlightenment. One comment that I have seen in various forms on this take is "thank goodness I will never have to have one of these talks." Yet it is very possible any of us may, unless remaining a virgin till marriage, because it is possible that we might contract it through someone who does not warn us.
    • Ozanne

      I was thinking of commenting on a couple of the "thank goodness I don't need to worry about this" but decided not to since I don't know their personal situation. Are they not carriers and in committed relationships/marriages where their partner also doesn't have it? Are they virgins and plan to be celibate for the rest of their lives? If so, then yes, they have no reason to think of what kind of talk to have if they ever get infected. I also noticed the ages of those commenting - most in their 20s. That's when wings are on their feet and they think they'll never come in to contact with someone who lies - like it did for me. Herpes is not a routine STD to check, at least not where I live. I have to request to have it tested. Knowing this, means that there are so many people walking around who are carriers and may pass it on even without knowing that they are. I guess after being infected it made me more sensitive to how others feel with STDs rather than feel I have to live in a cave.

  • Onyx277
    Almost the entire population has the oral herpes virus (cold sores) in their bodies apparently. I myself have never had a cold sore. I had an STD scare once where I was told I had sex with someone who might've had herpes, but I turned out negative.

    It's not life threatening, just a pain in the ass and painful. I wouldn't want to date someone who had it personally. The transmission rate is really low if they're taking care of themselves though.
  • OrdinaryGentleman
    Or just everyone stop having so much sex with everyone else?
  • YourFutureEx
    Ingenious!!! :)

    "Auntie Ozanne's Guide" lol I liked that :D
  • sandralopez
    Hello everyone, I have been infected with HSV 1&2 which I contacted from my partner since 3 years with a lot of outbreak and different symptoms which almost cost me my life. One day I came across one herbalist online who I contacted through mails and phone calls, but it cost me some money and now I'm cured. A big thanks to God and Dr. Silver and you can reach him on drsilverhealingtemple@gmail. com
  • Gorgre
    (I have 0 knowledge about herpes before) but now I was reading and I remembered

    My girlfriend has it
    But as she said it, it's type 1
    And we were kissing when she got outbreak!!
    So what do you think
    Should I get tested?
    Is it OK to have oral sex with her?
    Is it connected herps type 1 And type 2?
  • MrLi0n
    Thank god I never have to suffer through these talks with anyone
  • singlebee
    Very nice take...😊
    But i personally wouldn't date anyone who had herps... if she tells me I would appreciate that... but i would End it... Cause for example tomorrow we breakup say after a year... and if i get that std then my life will be ruined... no one will date me... and not to mention the stigma that std Carry no matter how common it is... the problem with herpes is... its not curable at all... it can be only controlled but not cured...

    There for when i would be in a relationship... we both would get tested Before having sex...
    • Ozanne

      This reasoning is exactly why I wrote this myTake to begin with. Yes, it's your choice to not continue a relationship, but the ruining your life part and no one would date you part is just not right and that's what your partner has to try and tell you. If you find you get it some time through dishonesty, the mental anguish that the herpes has on people is more damaging than anything it physically does.

    • singlebee

      "the mental anguish that the herpes has on people is more damaging than anything it physically does."

      That is the reason i don't want to get herpes you know... or any other STD
      Having less partners and using all protection methods is very necessary...

  • PhiOmega
    Really glad i don't have to worry about stuff like this
  • karaly
    great tips. I will be honst to my boyfriend about this issue.
  • platona
    how about other stds
    • Ozanne

      Treatable and curable STDs such as pubic lice (crabs), gonorrhea, and chlamydia don't pose a risk to infection if you look after yourself and have had them treated. They can be brought up in conversation only if the person feels that they want to disclose their entire sexual history. I feel this is about as necessary as talking about every ex you've had. If you want to get detailed, fine, but it's not something that will affect your partner if you no longer have the problem.

      Herpes, genital warts, and any other STD with recurring breakouts can be included in this myTake. These are things that *may* affect your partner as only coming in to contact with the infected area is what spreads the disease, therefore the ability to control it is a bit better. Herpes also remains in the skin cells fibres and can be transmitted even without a breakout. If your partner knows this, the better they can protect themselves.

      HIV was too serious to include in this myTake. It should always be discussed.

  • JackKerouac77
    If I got herpes I would live in the woods
  • Ulyss
    Spread all the herpes
  • abundantlyrich
    Herpes 1 or 2?
  • ArabianPwincess197
    Interesting take
  • I_am_repulsive
    Oh wow. Very interesting indeed.
  • Despondency
    Quite an interesting twist.
  • Anonymous
    I got type 2 through a partner who didn't tell me.
    The problem is the stigma associated with type 2 because in the past it was a sign that you were promiscuous, and that has made it seem far worse of a disease than it really is compared to type 1 (cold sores).
    But think about it this way. Suppose you meet someone nice. A few dates later they show up with a cold sore on their face. We all know facial cold sores are herpes type 1. Would you really run for the hills? Or would you wait for it to disappear, and calmly continue with your relationship without giving it a second thought?
    Personally, the first time, I got a big breakout. But the second and third times were as small as a facial cold sore, and it has been 6 years since then, and I've never had another one again.
    • Ozanne

      People don't think of a cold sore the same way, unfortunately. I am a bit disappointed with the way people have responded here about just living in seclusion or "never having to worry about it", it's just ridiculously over the top and unrealistic. Herpes is just one of those things that is out there and has no real right to be viewed as awful as it is, but because it's something that affects the genitals, suddenly it's perception is that you should crawl in a cave and die, but the cold sores?--no big deal. It's pretty much the same thing, different part of the body. It's how people perceive it because of where on the body it is.

      I know it's not the same thing, but if you look at how people joked about Farrah Fawcett's anal cancer, had that cancer been anywhere else on her body it would have been perceived as awful, but given it was anal cancer, idiots everywhere had comments to make.

      Anything genitalia-related gets people frantic.

  • Anonymous
    U have herpes? damn lol
    • Ozanne

      Yes. A boyfriend many years ago infected me without telling me he had it, and without him showing signs of an outbreak. I knew it was him because I did not have sex for years before him, and the incubation period prior to a first-time outbreak is 2-20 days. My first (and only) outbreak was shocking because he told me he was clean from everything. (That taught me never to take someone's word for anything.) I learned from my doctor that since I had no previous outbreak then yes - it was him that passed it on to me. At that time, my doctor was quick to tell me that herpes is very common and that the virus can live in the fibres of the skin cells even without an outbreak (which is how I got it from him). When I confronted him about it, he lied... but when I explained to him with facts from the doctor, he then told the truth. What I went through, and seeing how badly he handled it was a testament of how herpes should *not* be talked about. Hence, this myTake.

    • Keep in mind too, many people are unaware that they have herpes, (or stds in general). Some people never have outbreaks, but are carriers.

    • What an asshole, damn. Lying and infecting you for life.