Jenelle Marie Davis, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will gladly explain why having herpes isn’t the end of the world. It took years for Davis, founder of The STD Project, which encourages awareness and acceptance of various sexually transmitted diseases, and spokesperson for Positive Singles, a dating site for people with STDs, to come to terms with the diagnosis she got at age 16.“My mom says the entire way home from my appointment, I cried and said no one would ever love me, no one would ever want me, and I’d never get married,” Davis tells SELF.
When she was diagnosed with herpes almost three years ago, Whitney Carlson, 29, a social media editor in Chicago, had a similar reaction.
To top it all off, she also tells them they don’t have to make a decision about whether to continue seeing her—or even respond—right away. But I usually peace out so they have their space to chew on it,” she says.
Davis says the number one question they get on The STD Project is about how to tell a new partner.
Which is why I recommend that men do everything they can to escape the self-defeating doubt and guessing games when they think a woman might be interested…and start looking for the biggest sure sign that they TRULY have a “chance” with her. Like most issues revolving around dating and the “courtship ritual,” it’s what most guys think they know that kills their chances of success.
Some people put an incognito message in their profiles on general dating sites, writing out 437737—it spells “herpes” on a dial pad—in their profiles.
They both say it can be nerve-racking, but a few things help: sitting the person down in a place that’s comfortable for them, trying not to be too emotional, starting off with something like, “Hey, there’s something I need to talk to you about,” and bringing a wealth of knowledge to the conversation.“I always try to be calm and not too clinical but explain that I have done the research,” Carlson says.
Davis agrees, saying she fills people in on key details, like how herpes is transmitted, how transmission can be prevented, whether she’s taking medication that keeps the virus from multiplying, thus making it less likely to transmit, and how to find more information about the STD.
Others just write, “I have herpes” in their profiles, and Davis says her friends in this camp still have plenty of people knocking on their online-dating doors.
You can have great sex, find love, and also cut down on the chance of passing herpes along to your partner, Triplett says.