She was young, in her early twenties and beautiful, but I don’t think she knew it. I was her doctor and had to give her some difficult news. She had herpes.
I explained how common it was, about one in four women are affected. I discussed how easily she could have gotten it unwittingly because most people don’t even know they have it. It was easier for her to get it from a man that it was for him to get it from her. She could have gotten it even if she always used condoms during sex.
I emphasized it was not her fault and not a reflection of her character. She wanted me to tell her boyfriend and she brought him into the office.
He had an air of superiority. He was arrogant. He was good looking and he knew it. With just a few words he undid all my efforts. He claimed that he did not have it (I could not be certain that he even checked). He insinuated that she was “dirty.” He verbally attacked her, humiliated her and belittled her. He treated her with disdain and disgust. I did all I could do to defend her without crossing the line. She was begging him for forgiveness.
I never got the opportunity to speak with her again because she never returned to my office.
I wish I could have told her to leave him because he did not deserve her. I wish I could tell her that she deserved so much more in a partner, that no one who truly loved her would treat her that way.
I wanted to tell her that other men came in my office and allowed themselves to be tested. That even when they tested negative, they stood by the woman that they loved. They still married them and had children with them.
I wanted to tell her that that was the kind of love she deserved. I couldn’t tell her but I can tell you.
You deserve to be respected. You deserve to be loved. If any man makes you feel less than yourself, he is not the one for you.
If he always puts his needs and wants before yours, he is selfish and that is not love.
If he publicly humiliates you, he is insecure and he wants to pull you down with him. If he thinks he is better than you allow him to find his equal because he is not good enough for you.
You may love him and be afraid that you will never find anyone like him. But luckily, there are many better than him. And that is who you want. That is who you need.
You need a man who loves you enough to put your needs first; who is proud of you and your accomplishments; who accepts you despite your imperfection.
You deserve a man who will forgive you for your mistakes; one you can talk to whether you are happy or sad; one who is willing to apologize if he hurts your feelings; one you can laugh with and will comfort you when you cry.
He does exist and he is out there, but you won’t see him if you remain with that other one.