So, you’ve found out you have herpes. You may be worried about what this diagnosis will mean for your love life. The truth is, with a few simple precautions, you can continue to date and enjoy satisfying sex even if you have herpes.
You may feel strange or awkward about dating after receiving a herpes diagnosis. But having herpes doesn’t make you any less fun, loving or desirable. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t continue to date or have a relationship. These seven helpful tips can help you to date with success and confidence:
How You Can Improve your Experience Dating With Herpes
These are the steps you need to take:
1. Get educated
The key to living (and dating) with herpes is educating yourself about your condition. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss your diagnosis in-depth with your doctor. He or she can help you understand the ramifications of having herpes. There are also many online resources to help you better grasp what herpes is and how to deal with it. Having a good understanding of the condition will help you confidently talk to your partner about your diagnosis.
What is herpes?
Genital herpes is more common than most people realize. In fact, one in every eight Americans aged 14-49 has been diagnosed with this virus. There are two types of herpes: herpes simplex-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex-2 (HSV-2).
HSV-1 causes oral herpes (commonly known as cold sores) and is usually transmitted by oral-to-oral contact. In some cases, it can lead to genital herpes. HSV-2, however, is contracted by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person. The most common symptom is the appearance of blisters on or near your genitals. The blisters eventually pop, leaving behind sores that ooze or bleed. An outbreak can also cause itchiness and tingling of the genitalia. There is no cure for the condition, but it can and should be treated.
The first outbreak is almost always the worst. Outbreak frequency varies from person-to-person, but for many, symptoms lessen over time. Many people never have any symptoms at all.
How is herpes treated?
After being diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe antiviral medication to treat your symptoms and shorten the outbreak. Some people only need to take the medication when symptoms begin to appear, while others take it daily. Your doctor may recommend taking pills each day, especially if you suffer from frequent outbreaks. It can also help to lower the risk of passing the virus to your partner.
2. Decide When to Tell Your Partner
Before you have sex with your partner, you have to be honest with your condition. Knowing when to broach the topic is key. Telling your partner too soon can turn them off, but waiting until you're getting naked isn’t the answer either.
So when is the right time? Unless you’re looking for a hookup and want to have sex on the first date, getting to know your mate first is your best bet. Go slow and let your partner get to know you as a person before you drop the herpes bombshell. Chances are, if your partner has feelings for you, they will want to continue the relationship.
You’ll have to decide how intimate you are before having the conversation. Kissing and fondling aren’t a risk to your partner, but you probably shouldn’t let your relationship progress further without having the talk. If you wait until you’re on the verge of intercourse to blurt it out, you may both be too caught up in the passion of the moment to make a responsible decision.
3. Break the News
You may feel awkward or nervous about sharing your diagnosis with your partner, but picking the right time and place will help immensely. Talking in a crowded coffee shop or while driving through rush hour isn’t ideal. Instead, choose a time when neither of you feels rushed. Talking someplace private like your home or while taking a walk in the park is a good idea.
When sharing your news, it’s best to avoid negative words such as “incurable” or “disease.” You can start by stressing how common herpes is before explaining what it means to have it.
If your partner doesn’t handle the news well, it may help to give them time and space to think about it.
4. Deal With Rejection
If the person you’ve been dating breaks up with you, keep in mind that all people who date face rejection at one time or another. Sure, some people may see herpes as a dealer breaker, but it could also be a convenient excuse for someone who wanted to end things anyway.
If your partner breaks up with you because you have herpes, chances are, he or she wasn’t “the one.” If they use the information to belittle you, then you should cut your losses and look for someone new.
5. Plan Ahead
A herpes diagnosis isn’t the end of your sex life, but it doesn’t mean you can just go with the flow. You have to plan ahead. Even if you’re not yet ready to take your relationship to the next level, you’ll want to have a plan in place. Feelings can change in an instant, especially during a heavy makeout session.
Always have condoms on hand and be aware of your outbreak status. Knowing if you’re symptomatic or not will determine what you can do and how you can do it.
6. How to Have Sex During an Outbreak
Physical intimacy during an outbreak is all about being creative and careful. Avoid vaginal and anal sex, but you can absolutely perform oral on your partner. As long as you don’t have sores on or near your mouth, you can use your tongue and lips to pleasure your lover. And while you should avoid receiving oral sex when symptoms are present, there are other ways your partner can return the favor.
Masturbating together is completely safe—just avoid touching your partner after touching your genitals. Sex toys are also a great option. As long as you don’t share the toys and clean them well afterward, it can be an ideal way to bring each other to orgasm.
7. How to Make Sex Safer
Having intercourse and oral sex will always carry some risk, but your partner is less likely to be infected when you’re not symptomatic. To reduce risk further, use condoms during blow jobs, vaginal sex or anal. Using dental dams when performing cunnilingus or analingus on an infected partner also lessens the risk of infection.
Dating and having sex with herpes does take some work and planning, but it can still be immensely satisfying. By following our seven amazing tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding everything you’re looking for in a relationship.