Always discuss the fact that you have herpes before you have sex with a new partner! Don't begin to discuss herpes in the heat of foreplay! Bring it up when you are alone with your partner. State it as a matter of fact: "I have herpes."
Don't use adjectives like awful, incurable, painful, dirty. Offer your partner some books, DVDs, Web sites, or pamphlets about herpes.
Possible Responses - Let's think of some scenarios of how your partner may respond:
* "It doesn't matter. Let's have sex now!"
STOP! Someone who reacts like this needs to be reeled in a little. Tell them you would like to help them learn about herpes and think about this so they feel confident that you will protect them as best as you can. Impulsive decisions are usually not good decisions. Also, if this is their true attitude, what else might they be exposing you to?
* "This relationship is officially over."
OUCH! That is the response you were worried about. Remember, they are rejecting the herpes and not you. They may think about it for a few days and then contact you, or they may not want to consider a sexual relationship with you. Trust me, there is someone who will.
* "------------." The person is totally silent.
This is an awkward response but a normal one. Once again, tell them you would like to help them learn about and understand herpes so they feel confident that you will protect them as best as you can. Let them know that they don't even need to respond until they have more information. Give them time to make an educated and heartfelt choice.
* "I have herpes too!"
Make sure you have the same viral type. If you both have HSV-1 or you both have HSV-2, then you don't need to worry about giving it to each other or passing it back and forth. If you don't have the same viral type, you will want to protect each other from getting a different type of herpes as well.
Not telling your partner you have herpes will certainly set the relationship up for failure. It is easy to hear the anger from people who got infected when they were not informed of the risk of herpes ahead of time; just read some of the blog responses from readers in that situation. Trust is a very difficult thing to earn back after it is lost!
Strive to be your best: A fair, honest and loving person who happens to have herpes.
Here are some trusted books and authors:
* "Tender Talk," by Terri J. Warren, R.N., A.N.P., and Ricks Warren, Ph.D.
* "The Truth About Herpes," by Stephen L. Sacks, M.D.
* "Managing Herpes: How to Live and Love With a Chronic STD," by Charles Ebel and Anna Wald, M.D., M.P.H.
* "Understanding Herpes," by Lawrence R. Stanberry, M.D., Ph.D.