November 29, 2020 at 5:59 pm #43341NevlineParticipant
Hi Everyone, I have a rather in-depth story/question about my experience being in a new relationship with Herpes. I wanted to share with the group and receive some insights and support for my journey.
I have been Herpes II positive for 5 years. Throughout that time, I have mostly been celibate but I have had two female sexual/romantic partners. One of them was a while ago, and the other more recent (which I will share more about here). With my first partner after Herpes, it wasn’t easy to navigate. We both made mistakes, the relationship was quite toxic, and I ended up feeling rejected because she was afraid of getting the virus to the extent that it affected our intimacy. Certain things that she and I considered as integral to lovemaking such as giving oral sex (going down on me)-she was afraid to share with me.
From then, I made a promise to myself to only be with someone who wants to explore the fullness of a sexual relationship with me, without fear or this energy of avoidance of contracting the virus. Someone who sees that Herpes is not a big deal, and is not afraid of getting herpes from me. I am not interested in using artificial barriers, taking antiviral meds, or avoiding certain bodily positions for the sake of “protecting” my partner. I just want someone who can be all-in with me—so that we can feel safe exploring pleasure and spirituality together in sex.
I understand this takes a special relationship—and this is why I am mostly celibate and keen on having open conversations with my potential partners about these things before we have sex, to see if we are compatible and how we can create this space together.
So about 2 months ago, a new friendship in my life quite unexpectedly became sexually intimate. I had basically offered for her to stay the night (which was a genuine offer-sex was not on my mind) and then she offered for us to snuggle, which became more sensual.
When I felt that we could potentially have sex, I paused and told her that I have Herpes, explained what it was and how its contracted, and asked if and how this affects her boundaries. She listened intently, but then at the time, she told me she’s really not thinking about boundaries and just snuggled even closer before we eventually had sex.
Two weeks later, we visited each other again and then this is when she had a lot more questions about Herpes, since she hadn’t done research at that point-but I guess it occurred to her what I had shared. This is when I began sharing that conversation that I would ideally have **Before**sex about sexual needs/values and I also offered reliable resources for her to learn more. During this phase, I respected the fact that she was still learning about Herpes, and whatever boundaries she wanted to keep during this time. In our sexual space, was always open and flowing to what she wanted to do–but in the back of my mind I wanted to see how open she would eventually feel after educating and checking in with herself about Herpes.
At the end of her research phase, we checked in and she told me that she would want to avoid doing certain things to minimize the risk of catching Herpes. They were small adjustments and suggestions (mostly avoiding certain positions or activities, esp. when immune system is down) and Honestly, it is fair enough, but as I mentioned before…I am not comfortable being with someone who is taking the route of herpes-avoidance and “self-protection” when it comes to sharing sexual space with me. I just want us to share the perspective that it’s not such a big deal if they catch it too, because there is so much more value in us feeling physically free with each other in whatever way we’d like to have sex.
Ultimately, I can respect where someone is coming from if they don’t wish to contract Herpes or want to take certain measures to protect themselves, but I would have liked to have this conversation before sharing my body with them. And I tried to-but things just moved rather quickly with us—we didn’t build that strong foundation and although we love each other, and she wanted us to continue in our sexual intimacy (she felt that it was possible to have both protection and a deep connection in sex), but this feeling of misalignment ultimately led to me ending the sexual portion of our relationship.
One thing she asked me last night is: How can I expect someone who has only been with me for 2 months to feel comfortable having unprotected sex and risking Herpes, the “health-risk” and stigma that comes with it? She said that maybe if you’re with someone long-term or married for 10 years then you can expect to have unprotected sex, but not in a new relationship.
And I understand this sentiment, but I don’t expect anything from anyone. I really think that it comes down to the connection that I share with someone, and also how that person feels about Herpes in general, whether it’s a big deal to them or not….It’s not about validating a relationship with how long-term or “permanent” it is. It’s about what my partner wants to share with me, and how we wish to connect.
She also mentioned that if she were in my position, she would want to protect her partner from Herpes. I explained that I do not feel any responsibility to ‘protect’ my partner from Herpes at all… I feel that my responsibility is to disclose my status before we have sex, and open space for conversation and mutual understanding so that we can decide how we move forward together (or not).
So I have newly ended the sexual portion of this relationship but it has brought up questions within myself, maybe some insecurities around finding that special person for me. I felt in need of support around this, perhaps affirmation that this is possible and available for me.
Thanks for reading
<3January 7, 2021 at 9:43 pm #43636MJAParticipant
Hello! I read your post and wanted to let you know that person is out there! I know it. I know someone who feels the exact same way as you do about navigating having herpes and wanting to be fully embraced in a sexual relationship – unprotected (note she is fine with me sharing this story). She was 100% upfront with her new partner, at the time, about what she wanted and needed in a sexual relationship. Her new partner was initially shocked at the bold statement so early on but was so taken with her that she was okay with the risk. I wanted to let you know that they have been together for 3+ years now and are happily married. Her partner recently went to her own doctor and asked to be tested, even though she had never had any symptoms, and her doctor recommended against it. There are people out there who will be on the same page as you, will love you so much that it won’t matter.
I hope I can find the same! xx
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