People with herpes: How to go about casual sex
Some people with herpes at a time in their life when they would really like to have lots of casual sex. Since they have genital herpes, they need to disclose this to potential partners. Do not want to disclose? Not only is it illegal, but it’s also morally abysmal to transmit a disease to a partner by engaging in sexual activity without telling them your status. Even if you take enough precautions that you think it’s safe there is absolutely still a risk. It is not up to you to determine if the risk is low enough – that is your partner’s decision. The risk they take is up to their discretion, not yours.
Even if you don’t consider the moral shadiness and selfishness of doing this, you must consider the legal repercussions. If your partner finds out that you withheld this information from them, you could face very negative legal backlash. You could be arrested and spend a considerable period of time in jail.
If you’re planning on engaging in casual sex, here are some points you can make in conversation in order to do so morally, legally, and safely:
Insist on using a condom.
Be upfront about when you had your last STD test.
Tell your partner what you were tested for and what results you got back. Ask your partner to share their own testing history as well.
Talk about birth control.
If you have female reproductive organs (whether you identify as a woman or not), tell your partner what kind of birth control you are on, if any. If you are having sex with someone who has female reproductive organs, ask them about what if any birth control they take. Ultimately, you should feel liberated to have sex with any consenting partner, as long as you inform them first and they willingly accept the risk.
A Success Story: Dating and Casual Sex in NYC
This is a real-life story we tracked down. We think it might give some hope to people who are dealing with casual sex with herpes..
“About two years ago, I contracted hsv-2 when I had unprotected sex with a friend of mine, unfortunately. It was a pretty sucky situation. This partner was only the fourth person I had ever slept with. I had just recently broken up with my partner of four years. It felt so unfair. I thought I was the last person who deserved to contract an STD.
Health-wise this is what it was like: I had an awful primary lasting around a month. That turned into small outbreaks every few weeks for the next six months. From there, I only had an outbreak about four times a year – typically after rough sex or when I got lazy about taking my suppressive medication or when I was feeling stressed.
Take hope from that—the health stuff absolutely improved over time. I am so grateful for my suppressive medications.
As far as dating goes, it was an interesting journey. I was with one person for about one year and six months while I had herpes. We’d started falling for each other right before I contracted the disease. The day of our first date was actually the same day when I first starting sensing that something was not right. He was a really great guy and he didn’t seem to care about my herpes at all. He gave me lots of support over the course of the next year as I grappled with my diagnosis. I am really grateful that I had him. It’s not necessarily lucky that he accepted my herpes-positive status, because plenty of people would do that. I just think I got really lucky that he had my back as I navigated the health challenges – both the herpes-related ones and the ones that had nothing to do with it.
When he and I broke up last January, the reasons had nothing to do with my herpes.
But what I wanted to tell you about is casual sex, because I feel like it could give some hope to the newly diagnosed who are struggling. I am not dating at this point. I am not really sure what I want in a relationship right now. I make sure to tell any men I meet that even if I am attracted to them it does not mean I want to get into any sort of long-term relationship.
Of the men I’ve disclosed to, only one of them have had any qualms about agreeing to these terms. All of them still wanted to have sex with me and most didn’t even ask any follow-up questions about how I felt. One guy asked if cunnilingus was okay and I said of course it was. One guy actually said he was surprised I told him. Another guy told me that my telling him made him think I was trustworthy. He said it was pretty ballsy of me to be so upfront about it. None of them put up a fight about the condoms, and the next morning when we were sober they all still wanted to go at it again. Haha, I’m not bragging or anything – I just want to impress upon you how great it’s going.
It is so funny to think that two years ago I was sobbing to my best friend about how I would turn into an old, lonely, crazy cat lady. I thought I would never be able to have casual sex and that all guys would be terrified of me.
I’ve learned that it is way less of a big deal than I thought. I definitely understand that it is difficult to cope with because I went through that myself, but now I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can say that I have had a successful serious relationship as well as casual sex. I feel like my love life is about as normal as it gets these days.
As a rule, I always disclose. I do it as early as possible, before we even go home together. I waited until we were in the cab once and it made me super uncomfortable so I won’t be doing that again. Sometimes I’ll admit that I have feelings of paranoia, but there’s really no reason for it as long as I disclose and I can honestly say that I didn’t have any symptoms before, so I shouldn’t feel guilty. There was one instance where I had an outbreak the day after, but there was no way I could’ve known, so it wasn’t like I did anything wrong.
Never skip the step of disclosure. It might be fun in the moment, but it results in feelings of guiltiness or a really awkward conversation later. And as you can see from my story, disclosure tends to be pretty successful!
My advice to anyone newly diagnosed is to hang in there. It might be hard to believe now, but you’re gonna pull through and be just fine. It’s annoying, and some days are worse than others, but it gets better. Life is too short to waste time being scared.
If you are too afraid or embarrassed to talk about your STD status with a partner, you should try dating on a herpes dating site. These sites have existed for over seventeen years. They can help you get more comfortable with your status by interacting with other people in the same position.