By Contributing Author: Stephanie
Have you heard the news? Apparently there is a new herpes dating app that works somewhat like tinder. I would like to use this blog to start the discussion on what apps like this mean for our community.
As I’m sure many of you are aware of, online dating and dating apps have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Different sites like Positive Singles and Herpes Singles are designed specifically for people seeking the online dating experience who have been diagnosed with herpes or other chronic STDs. The new app, MPWH, stands for Meeting People with Herpes. Although this runs as a website, there is also an app free for downloading on iOS and Android systems. I have never used online dating apps, or herpes specific dating apps, but I have given the concept a lot of thought. I am going to lay out the pros and cons of using herpes dating apps and websites to the best of my ability, but I would like to hear from you all about your own experience with the world of online dating with herpes!
I personally believe that the herpes dating websites have a lot to offer, especially for newly diagnosed individuals. In my experience, it was extremely scary to start dating again after my diagnosis. I was constantly worried about how and when I would have “the talk.” For some reason rejection got a lot harder when it had to do with my sexual health status. Being able to date without worrying about “the talk” would have made the traumatic shift in the perception of my love life a bit easier.
I also think that an app like MPWH could be beneficial just for the sake of what I will call sexual sanity. Just because we have been diagnosed with an STD does not mean that we do not have the right to enjoy casual sex if that is what we desire. These websites could be a great place to meet someone to have a casual dating relationship with, without having to worry about transmitting the virus. So long as the person you meet has the same type of HSV as you, and they do not have any other STDs, these websites give you access to have freedom and safety in casual sex.
One last pro is the way that these apps and websites show the prevalence of genital herpes in the world. A herpes diagnosis can make us feel completely alone and unwanted if we allow the virus to make us feel like a victim. These websites show the surprising amount of people who are living with the same virus as us, and that can be extremely comforting in times of loneliness!
The first con that came to mind when I began to think critically about these websites and apps is the possibility of transmitting different types of the herpes virus back and forth, or even contracting another STD. Many sites are herpes specific, but sites like Positive Single target anyone with any STD. I urge you all to be smart when using these apps and websites for the sake of your own health and other’s health.
Although I agree that dating within the herpes community can be a great start to getting back out there after a diagnosis, I also argue that this can be limiting to a person’s dating life. Sometimes I wonder if only dating other people with herpes can hold us back from seeing our true potential as an intimate partner. It is inevitable that some people will not be accepting of our diagnosis, but it is also inevitable that some people will! I think it is great to challenge ourselves to move outside of the herpes community to find love and support. I think you will surprised with what you find!
Now I would like to hear thoughts and opinions from you all on the pros and cons of: 1) herpes dating websites and apps, and 2) only dating within the herpes community. Feel free to ask me, Dr. Kelly, and each other questions. I am looking forward to hearing about all the different experiences each of you have had!
Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie. I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old. Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University. I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis. With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs. I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.