Discussing Genital Herpes with Your Partner

You just learned that you have herpes. Should you tell your partner? The answer is most definitely YES.

This subject can be a scary one to discuss with your partner, but it’s important for your health and theirs. It also shows your partner that you care about them and their health, because you want to prevent them from getting the infection.

There are points in the process that will make it easier for you to tell your potential sexual partners that you have genital herpes, and one is the most important for you: the point at which you become comfortable with the fact that you have genital herpes; when you have come to accept that. That will be make things easier for you and your partner. When you first find out that you have contracted genital herpes you may feel ashamed, angry, and depressed. Those feelings should pass if you educate yourself about the virus, and get some support, whether it be counseling, a hotline, support groups, online message boards, or chats. Genital herpes is nothing to feel any of those negative thoughts about. It is only the stigma that surrounds the infection that makes it so. But the stigma is not usually factual information.

People do tell their partners about genital herpes, and many have supportive partners. You must tell your partner about it before you have sex. If you wait, it will only be harder to tell later. The discussion should take place somewhere where you feel comfortable, and not in a crowded, or unknown place. Do your best to be calm, and natural about it. It would be best not to be overly negative about it. Be positive, and natural. Your partner could have several reactions, and you should try to prepare yourself for each. Some people overreact, some will be fine, and some will be negative no matter what you say. Just remember that it probably took, or will take you some time to come to acceptance with it, and it may take your partner some time as well. If they are negative about it, it may be a good idea to educate them yourself, or encourage them to speak to someone at a sexual health center, or call a hotline.

Here are some suggestions on how to begin the conversation:

  • “Now that we are becoming more intimate, I think it’s important that we talk about sex. Can we talk now?”
  • “I trust you, so I would like to share something that’s very personal with you. Two years ago, I found out that I had contracted genital herpes.”
  • “We get along very well and I really enjoy spending time with you. I believe that we should be completely honest with each other. I’d like to talk about our sexual histories.”
  • These are just some suggestions. Use your own style, and remember, be honest. It’s always easier to be honest the sooner you do it.