Does herpes affect dating

05-Mar-2015 21:10

does herpes affect dating-13

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Living with herpes as a single woman has forced Jenna to hone her technique for telling potential sexual partners: She is informative, stays calm and never attempts to make them feel sorry for her.

Jenna waits several dates to break the news -- long enough that she feels comfortable bringing up something so intimate, but well before sex is on the table in any kind of real way. "The possibility of rejection, especially when you have grown to like the other person... They run, even after months of movies, ice cream, long talks and dinners and middle-of-the-night texting," she said.

"There's more of a stigma when it comes to women and anything sexual, and that definitely applies to STIs as well." Jenna knows that stigma all too well.

When she was first diagnosed, she stopped dating for a full year.

"It makes you feel dirty, and it makes you feel like people are not going to love you because of this." When Maria was diagnosed, she was several months into a new-ish relationship. It's a personal piece of information, so it's not something you need to blurt out with in the first 10 minutes of meeting someone, but I think you also don't want to wait until your clothes are off." Be straightforward, Marin generally advises, and try something like, "I want you to know that I have this, and this is what you need to know to keep yourself safe." It's an exhausting conversation to have repeatedly, says Amanda, 34, who's had genital herpes for almost 10 years, catching it during what she thought was a monogamous marriage.

"I was very ashamed, and thought I didn't deserve to be loved," she said.

The same goes for Maria, 33, who was diagnosed with genital herpes about a year ago and has grappled with feeling like she's somehow tainted.

Her boyfriend has been supportive, and she's been lucky to only have one outbreak since her diagnosis, but she spends more time than she'd like ruminating about what the future holds for her romantic life in light of her STI. " Yet despite how much inane dating advice there is out there, and how much unsolicited ministering single women are subject to daily, there isn't much guidance readily available on how to be a woman who has an STI and dates -- or even recognition that it's so damn common. She dates a lot, mostly people she meets online, and often tells prospective dates before they even meet face-to-face."I've had mixed reactions, from '[It's] no problem at all,' to rejection," she said.

And yet for many single, sexually-active young women with STIs, navigating the dating world can feel, at best, like a delicate dance; at worst, a full-on minefield.

"There's definitely still a stigma," said Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist in San Francisco.