Intimacy & Sex

How to Tell Him You Have an STD

Anxious about telling the guy you adore about your genital herpes or a related sexually transmitted disease? Here are 5 simple steps to help you figure out exactly how to go about it…

“Dear Claire, I have genital herpes. That’s it, straight out. My outbreaks are few and far between (once or twice a year) and do not hamper me in any way, any more than the occasional cold sore, except to have to tell a man that I have it. Does a man look at me and approach me differently once he knows? Absolutely (I think). Why should I go through all the effort of dating and then have to break down and tell him when it came to physical intimacy? I’m kind of afraid to be the initiator. Does it all, really, boil down to sex?” Sincerely, Gail

It is hard to live with any sexually transmitted disease.

The symptoms might be easily managed, but the social issues are usually far more difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, one in six people have genital herpes (according to the Centers for Disease Control) and more of those are women than men.

So you have genital herpes. That is truly sucky, and I’m sorry to hear it, because I know it means so many life changes that you never anticipated. But Gail, I promise you, you do NOT have to chuck all possibilities for romance and life-long love and apply to be a nun-in-training.

This isn’t going to be easy, but guess what? The man who will love you unreservedly will be a cut above the regular. Your forever man won’t be deterred by something so simple (and it is simple, in the scope of things), especially when you have come to terms with it yourself.

But first things first: I want to assure you that even if you had decided to never do the deed again, you could still find the love of a lifetime.

Surprised? Read on…

Do all relationships “boil down” to sex?

Nope, not at all.

The real glue of the kind of love that lasts a lifetime is intimacy, not sex.

Sex can be a foundation and cornerstone of intimacy, but it isn’t the only treat in the bag of Chex Mix. (Sorry, I’m hungry.)

And intercourse is just one part of sex. A tasty and delicious part, to be sure, but there’s also spooning, snogging, teasing, hand-holding, touching, and… Well, you know the drill.

There are actually relationships that do fine (even well!) with 10 rolls in the hay or fewer per year.

But I’m guessing that you don’t actually want to throw the possibility for having awesome, mind-blowing yum-yum (See? Hungry.) with a fabulous guy out the window.

So let’s start with how to optimize your chances when you tell him that you have genital herpes…

1. Come to terms with the STD yourself

Give yourself a little time to get used to this. It can be unsettling to learn that your way of living and loving is going to be different than you once expected or experienced.

Take time to adjust. Get connected with communities of people who are dealing with the same issue — whether it’s genital herpes or a related STD — that you are.

Here are a few organizations that help people with herpes understand, connect and date:


Get educated about genital herpes, know the facts inside and out. This will make you more confident when you discuss it with someone else.

2. Practice your speech

Write out a few scripts for how you might tell him, then practice saying it out loud in front of a mirror. Call up a trusted friend and role play it with her.

Remember: You are NOT confessing a crime. You’re simply sharing personal information. Speak calmly and confidently.

3. Choose the right setting

This is not the kind of information you want to share in a text message, phone call, or email.

A man you’re interested in getting naked with deserves to hear it from you face to face, in a place that isn’t crowded with crazed concert-goers or rife with 8-year-olds (and their parents).

Choose a neutral setting where you’re both going to be comfy and you won’t be overheard. That might be a pleasant park bench, a secluded restaurant booth, or his living room.

And let it be a conversation, not a monologue. There’s more help for you on this at the link below…

READ MORE: How to Talk to Him about ANYthing (And Get the Answers You Need)

4. Expect it to go well

Be calm and confident. (I know, I already said that. I might say it again.)

If you expect a positive reaction, you’re more likely to receive one. But if you’re all hand-wringy and miserable, he’s likely to be alarmed and upset, too.

Be the strong woman you are! Guys dig that. And if they don’t, you’re not interested in him anyway.

Don’t apologize (this isn’t something you’ve “done wrong,” nor is it something you should be ashamed of), and be as honest about your experience as you can, answer his questions, and point him toward good resources.

5. Give him time

If learning about genital herpes was hard for YOU, it could be hard for him, too.

Let him know that it took you a while to figure out and understand, and assure him that you came out of the experience stronger for it.

After all, who gets the perfect life? Nobody I know. Relationships are messy things. But worth it!

You got this!

Gail, I think this is going to go well for you. I know you can overcome your fear of initiating the conversation with a man you’re really interested in; all you need is a little bit of confidence and a solid plan.

My best to you as you continue to look for the man who will treasure your heart, nourish your soul, and enrich your life.

xoxo Claire

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