It can be frightening when you find out that your partner has Herpes. How do you support your partner while you deal with your reaction? Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com and Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com share.
Reid: We're going to talk about herpes, yeah. I'm Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: I'm Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Reid: What are we talking about today?
Cathy: We're talking about herpes. I had someone write in, and he was concerned. He has herpes I, but he just found out the person he's with has herpes II, and he's not quite sure how to handle that or what to do with it, because he doesn't want to end up with herpes II and have the relationship not work out, and then he's left alone with herpes.
Reid: Left alone. With herpes I and II. Never to be picked from anyone ever again, because you are now a pari-no it is not true!
Reid: Ladies and gentlemen. Members, friends of the jury. If you geek out about herpes, and again like everyone's got their own baggage. Usually from culture, and from family and growing up and stuff like that. Maybe you got shamed in an 8th grade relationship, or in high school or in college, or maybe you got shamed last week. Herpes, in my opinion, not a big deal except culturally.
Cathy: Yeah. I've had doctors shame me just because I wanted to get tested for it. It is, there's a lot of shame in our culture, and people act like it's the end of the world, but it really isn't.
Reid: It's not the end of the world. My best advice, hang out with sex geeks who know more about things like this, and if people are really freaking out that you have herpes, then don't date them. End of story. Go date people like us, who are like, "Oh OK, what kind of herpes? When did you find out? How did you find out? Tell me everything." It's not that big of a deal when you actually do the research and figure out why you're scared, or fearful, or afraid that if you had it, or if people know you have it, or if you catch it from somebody, like what are you afraid's going to happen?
Cathy: I know I was afraid, especially with the commercials on TV. I felt like you constantly had horrible outbreaks that were incredibly painful, and nasty, and most people have 3 to 5 outbreaks getting less intense as time goes.
Reid: Yeah. Then, you could be that small percentage of the population that has horribly painful outbreaks frequently. My heart goes out to those people. I have herpes I, I've never had an outbreak that I know of, but I have friends who are the ones who get those painful outbreaks, and it sucks. However, I still sleep with them. Me. You are going to be different, but there are people out there who will love you if you have herpes. They are there, and http://HerpesLife.com is a really great website, and Adriel if you're watching, thank you for doing the work that you do, which is all about community, about realizing, "Oh I don't have to be ashamed that I have this thing, and people will love me and respect me if I have it."
The big news, and for the person writing in, is like ... One the good news is, it's very rare that you get both strains of herpes. If you already have herpes I, and your partner has herpes II, odds are, you're not going to catch II. Odds are, you're not going to give your friend who has herpes I, herpes II, or whoever has I or II. It's OK. That's the good news. Two, figure out for you, what are you scared of or afraid that's having you have the reaction about the herpes? One because you already have it, you have herpes I, so what are you afraid of about herpes II? Get really clear, write it down and get clear about what are you actually afraid of. Have a conversation with your partner or with people in the Herpes Life community or whatever, your therapist. Talk about your fears. It's your fears when they're not voiced that start to get a lot of control and traction in here.
Cathy: Yeah, and it's really easy to blame someone else when we feel powerless. The more information you have, it's easier to talk about it without shaming or blaming, and if you can, be gentle with both of you. It's a challenging discussion, and it can bring out some beautiful things in your relationship about how much you do care about each other, and what's important for you.
Reid: It's important just in relationships and with your friendships and family members to talk about your fears in general. There's a lot of fear and stigma around STI's and STD's.
Cathy: I loved when…the first time I heard Reid talk about STI's, he had everybody shout out what they thought the most common STI was, and everyone was like, "Herpes! Chlamydia," whatever. He's like, "No, it's the common cold." I was like, "Oh." It just really normalized it for me. We do share things when we're sexual with each other, when we're connected with each other. We can be careful and get tested, but it's OK. We can take care of most of it.