Before I had herpes I dated like anyone else in their early twenties did. I thrust myself into social situations like going out to bars, parties or events happening in the city. I tried to meet new friends through people I knew. I kept my eyes peeled for attractive men that I could lure in with my charm and wit (HA). And I never thought twice about safe sex, STDs, or if someone I was dating or sleeping with had an STD themselves and wasn’t telling me. Dating changes in two ways after you’re diagnosed with herpes.
The first way is, you actually don’t see potential dates/partners the same way anymore. You don’t ask the same questions in your head about them.
Pre-Herpes questions I’d ask myself when staring at an attractive man: I bet I can get him to go out with me.
Post-Herpes questions I’d ask myself when staring at an attractive man: Do you think he has an STD, too? Maybe he’s been around long enough to come across someone in my situation and won’t judge me. Would he still date me if he found out? If I tell him, how likely is he to tell other people? Do I even have to tell him? Do I have to worry about telling him before I’ve even met him? What if he ends up really liking me and this is a deal breaker and it hurts too much to deal with? What if he’s an asshole and says something shitty to me? If he tells me he doesn’t want to date me after finding out, is it because he doesn’t want to date me or because herpes will forever cockblock my dating options? I’ll just not say hi.
The second way herpes changes you, is you don’t see yourself the same way anymore. Suddenly you more often than not think you aren’t “allowed” to date in the same dating pools you used to. Some people join dating sites that specifically cater to the STD they have hoping to meet someone in the same situation as themselves to make it easier. Some people are so depressed and psychologically burdened by the stigma that they lose motivation to date at all.
I’ve never joined a dating site for people with herpes. I originally loved the idea of it and thought it would make my life easier. I’m sure it actually works well for many people. But to me, herpes shouldn’t stand in the way of me dating whoever I want to date. If I saw potential in someone, I chose to take the risk of getting to know them over pigeonholing myself and saying I’m not allowed to date like everyone else anymore. If someone rejected me for strictly having herpes they were usually a person that lacked other qualities I needed too. I’ve never gone out with someone that rejected me only because I had herpes that had everything else about them match up perfectly with me. Don’t see rejection as herpes rearing it’s ugly your-life-is-doomed head in your face because it’s usually many additional factors that are involved.
I support anyone’s decision to utilize any available option for dating when they have herpes and to do what makes them most comfortable. But I beg and plead that none of you ever feel you have to stay away from dating people that don’t have it. Or that you have to join dating sites for people also living with herpes. At least go on a few dates with anyone you want. Steer clear from sexual activities while you’re first seeing someone and see if you’re even compatible with the person before you decide to tell them.
One MAJOR positive of herpes is you will put some serious thought into what you need, why things don’t work, and what another person is really doing when they reject you. It usually has less to do with herpes itself and all to do with the stigma, their fears or their lack of information on the disease.