16

Background

I have HSV1 on my genitals; I don't get mouth sores. I got the diagnosis a couple of years ago. I've dated several people since then. I kissed my first potential partner (since the diagnosis), before telling them I had it. I disclosed it to them before sexual intercourse came up. Since then, I've disclosed the fact that I'm HSV1+, before I kiss anyone. It definitely cuts down the number of prospective partners, but I feel like it is the right thing to do.

My Approach

I exclusively do online dating, and it is not disclosed on any of my profiles (I don't see the point of hoisting the red flag right away). I don't kiss on the first date, but I usually disclose it sometime around the second date. I usually disclose it in person, but I've disclosed it over text messaging without issues due to the communication medium.

I have a "disclosure script", which goes something like:

"Is it alright, if I (get something off of my chest/give you a red flag/et cetera)?"

"I have HSV-1, but it's not oral herpes. I understand this might scare you away, and I won't be upset with you if it does. I wanted to tell you this in case things get more intimate between us. If you have any questions, then I'll be more than happy to answer them."

I feel as if this is a solid approach, but I'm open to suggestions.

  • I'd be curious to know if "hoisting the red flag" and "give you a red flag" are common phrases used in your region in English; they're not where I am but these things can be very regional. – user6818 Feb 2 '18 at 6:02
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    Stacey makes a good point. A ´red flag´ is usually something that signals danger about another person; this doesn't seem to qualify. – Erik Feb 2 '18 at 6:42
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    Also, are you mainly worried about 'when' you're disclosing, or 'how'? – Tinkeringbell Feb 2 '18 at 7:35
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    Reading up on HSV1, I came across this sentence: "According to the World Health Organization 67% of the world population under the age of 50 have HSV-1" Could you go into details what the "+" means? – AllTheKingsHorses Feb 2 '18 at 8:56
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    I got "hoisting the red flag" and "giving a red flag" from my great Uncles, who lived most of their lives in MT, USA. I would say that a red flag qualifies in my case, because it is incurable. I'm mainly concerned about 'how' I'm disclosing it. I've probed a few times asking, if my potential partner had any deal breakers. + means positive. – user441767 Feb 2 '18 at 9:14
14

Disclosing a STI isn't a conversation that anyone looks forward to but you are doing the right thing. Honesty really is the best policy and it means that you don't need to carry any guilt or recrimination because you know you are being ethical and responsible.

So the second or third serious date seems like a good time frame. There is no need to publicize that you have HSV-1 to strangers or at the start of a first date, you are being completely responsible by talking about it before you kiss or are intimate with someone.

Even if they decide not to be intimate after learning about HSV, try to move forward in the relationship. They are only deciding to reject the HSV, not you personally. But you also might be pleasantly surprised at their reaction. After they sort out their feelings they may decide that they are so impressed by your honesty and ability to discuss a difficult topic that they are more attracted to you than ever.

Always tell the person about your HSV before you are intimate with them. Give them some time to absorb the news and learn more, they can read about herpes and become better informed. Do NOT wait until you are about to jump on each other and throw caution to the wind. You shouldn't have this on your profile and you it probably wouldn't be a great idea to talk about it on the first date either. A person hasn't gotten to know you very well yet and you probably want to get a sense that the relationship is going somewhere before you have "the talk".

Know that you will sooner or later find the person who is right for you who will want to be with you regardless of HSV. Lies can easily kill relationships and they might break up over the lie more than the HSV. If you don't feel comfortable enough to talk to a potential partner about HSV-1 then you are not ready to be intimate with them yet either. Wait until you feel ready to have the talk.

Relationships can founder for a lot of reasons anyway there are many things that may attract someone to you or reasons why someone might not go further. You'd be in a far worse position if you didn't disclose the HSV to someone before being intimate & when they found out later felt betrayed. They might even be angry enough to sue you if you didn't disclose the HSV before being intimate.

Thoughtful people who value your best qualities, the people that you'd like to be in a relationship with are just the people that are likely to be impressed by how you handle this and will often want to get to know you better after you disclose this to them.

Some people with HSV, especially those who have more frequent outbreaks, prefer to date other people who already know that they have herpes. This is by no means something that you have to do. Just keep in mind that it's a possible option if it appeals to you. There are online herpes dating sites and if you find equal quality people there (as on other dating sites) it might simplify a few things.

6

I'm going to give a somewhat opposing view to the first couple of answers and talk about why there could still be value to your original approach vs a new one, because which approach you take is your opinion, and I think there are values to all of these approaches, but yours is important as well.

I've known trans people (different, yes, but hear me out) who use the upfront-before-we-meet-up method to disclose what could be "surprising" genitalia later on down the road because it created safety concerns if they waited to disclose it in person (they had actually been attacked by someone they were on a date with when they finally did disclose it).

If you're meeting strangers online, your approach might be the safest approach. Some people are less informed than others, and could make brash, angry decisions if you've already kissed them or what-have-you (because to them you've already exposed them - and yes, some people do think like this). It just comes down to the fact that you really don't know how any of them are going to react.

Basically, I think your method is a safe one to use when it comes to online dating. If someone isn't informed now, they probably are not going to get informed enough to consent to a relationship with a partner with an STD by the time you start getting physical (and with STDs, this includes kissing for most people). It could potentially be safest for you to continue being honest from the get-go, and you'll save yourself time and resources on first dates with people who will end up discontinuing a relationship with you once they know.

  • really solid advice at the cost of the potential "confused" candidates in my answer. I fully agree that it's the OP's own choice on how to actually do it from here on :) – Imus Feb 2 '18 at 16:14
3

I fully agree with not disclosing this on your dating profile and not mentioning it on the first date. Except if you were to follow @Thisiswhatyoudo's advice to switch to specific online herpes dating sites. This might take away some of the stress that goes with "hiding" it at first. I'll be assuming you don't do that for the rest of this answer.

Let's say that the first date went well and you're both still interested in seeing each other more. Your current approach is to then send a text to inform your potential partner about your disease.

The positives:
- no false hope for your partner (a good relationship starts with trust)
- gives them an easy out

The negatives:
- they might not know about it and don't bother to look it up.
- may opt out too soon because of it.
- you can't see how they react to it.

Both the good and bad thing about texting it is that it's less personal. Since you seem to be having some trouble actually finding a partner that sticks, you might want to gently push them a bit more. I suggest to do the following instead of a text message.

Invite them on a second date. Make sure to do something where they are not "trapped" (like in a dinner date, unless if you tell them only near the end) and preferably have some privacy (you don't want 20 other people listening in on you talking about a disease probably).

Some suggestions for such a date could be as simple as going for a coffee (in a non-crowde place ofcourse), walking on the beach, maybe even going to a movie and stick around to have your talk afterwards ...

Then at some point prepare yourself to have "the talk". It starts basically the same way you do via text currently. Be prepared for 3 major possible reactions:

1) disgust.

You can't help it. Some people just are disgusted by any diseases. At this point just be glad that you found out early that you're most likely not a good fit for each other (which is what dating is for right?). It's the main reason to go for a date where they can actually get out if they want. They may get over their initial automatic reaction of disgust and contact you again which can give you the same result as the other reaction. Just stay friendly, allow them their out and move on. You expected this could happen in the first place.

2) confusion (what I expect the most probable respons)

This could still work out if you play it right. You're probably going into a "gentle teaching" mode here. Allow them to ask questions about what it is or what to expect to happen later in the relationship. Be open about it. You can be proud that you're showing enough trust in them to share your "secret". You may even want to emphasise it when you do your initial explanation that you want to start of any potential relationship based on honesty.

If they really want out, just let them. Otherwise allow them to think about it, stay in touch (through texts etc...). You should be able to get a decent idea about whether or not they're still interested after this date. Be it in how they respond, or their general body language. Do note that being a bit more distant after your explanation is normal. Give them some time and who knows they might still be interested afterwards.

3) perfectly normal.

Not as likely as the other responses but there are always people who are open about it. Perhaps they have experience with it, or have HSV1 themselves which puts them at ease that they're not alone. They may still have some questions about it but the conversation should flow a lot easier than in case (2). It could be a good idea to show them how glad you are that they appreciate your honesty here.


To end I would like to point out that this approach could be too hard on you as well. You need to be able to muster up the courage to actually tell them face to face. If you're not able to do so than your current approach of texting may still be the best. If you do try it however, don't get discouraged when the first tries end up in situation (1). Keep it up and let's hope you will someday find the one for you.

2

I would stress not to use words like 'red flag' or 'scary,' but to speak casually and factually. Simply state it, maybe even off-hand; "oh by the way," This way (1) it does not alarm someone unnecessarily, and (2) by calling it a red flag, you're perpetuating that by having it, it makes you less of a person.

As for the timing, that is dependent on the circumstance, but probably earlier is the better. Obviously not when you're flirting ("whoa that was out of the blue.."), but before intercourse - they have a right to know.

If the other person isn't interested, then they're not interested.

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