Most people - approximately 67% - who know they have genital herpes tell their partners before having sex with them.
What kind of response can you expect when you tell your partner?
According to a recent Harris survey most people without genital herpes said they would avoid having a relationship with someone who has genital herpes and that they would break up with a partner who has genital herpes.
This makes the situation seem almost hopeless right? It makes it sound like you are guaranteed to get rejected if you tell someone about your infection.
First, the Harris survey only asked people who DID NOT have genital herpes. Second, it asked them what they would do IF they started dating a person with the virus. This was a hypothetical question. It is true that almost everyone if initially given the choice will prefer to date someone without genital herpes. Just think how you yourself would have chosen before you became infected.
But this hypothetical situation is very different from actually being in a relationship with someone, developing strong feelings for them, investing time and energy, and then finding out that they have genital herpes. In this situation most people choose to continue the relationship.
And statistics back this up. There was another survey where hundreds of people WITH genital herpes were asked what kind of responses they received when they told their partners. It is important to remember that most people do not tell their partners in the best way possible - even so, only a small percentage received a negative response (only 17%).
In fact, you can give yourself a much better chance of receiving a positive response if you know the most effective way to tell your partner.
The most common question with regards to telling someone you have herpes involves deciding when to let them know. Here are some times to avoid.
You can tell your partner at the very beginning of a relationship that you have genital herpes.
At first, this would appear to be a good choice. I mean you want to be honest and up-front with someone when you start dating right? While being honest is definitely a good thing, disclosing something this personal is better left for later in the relationship. The first date is definitely not a good time to let them know. When you first start dating, the other person has nothing invested in the relationship and it is very easy for them to reject you. A person who you tell this early in the relationship is also much more likely to tell others about your infection. Do not feel that you are obligated to tell them as soon as possible. You are free to wait as long as you need to.
You can tell your partner just before having sex.
This is also a very common choice. While it is definitely moral and ethical to tell someone before having sex with them, telling them immediately before having sex is NOT a good idea. There are a couple of reasons for this. In the heat of the moment neither of you is thinking straight. Your partner may choose to have sex and then regret the decision in the morning. Also, finding out in this way is a huge letdown. Imagine the excitement and anticipation of becoming intimate for the first time and then being given this news.
Do tell them how common this infection really is (1 in 5 to 1 in 4 sexually active adults are infected - over 50 million american adults and 90% do not know they are infected).
Do tell them that sleeping with someone who has genital herpes does not mean they are guaranteed to get it. Many people with infected partners never become infected themselves even after decades of being together. Do let them know how unlikely they are to catch the virus if the proper precautions are taken. Knowing all of the facts and statistics regarding herpes transmission will come in handy. It is very powerful and reassuring to tell someone that the chances of transmitting the herpes virus can be reduced to as low as 1% or 2% per year with the proper precautions.
Do become well educated on this virus. There is nothing worse than saying "I'm sorry. I don't know" when your partner asks you a question about this virus. Being well-informed will give you confidence when you have the talk - knowing that you are ready for any questions or concerns your partner may bring up.
Do stay calm and collected when having the talk. DO NOT become emotional.
Want more information on how to tell someone you have herpes? Check out the Herpes Dating eBook where you will learn the following: