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Groovy

Should I tell friends about my H?

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Groovy

This is not about telling sexual partners about your H. It's about telling friends, family etc.

I'm just curious about who has chosen to keep this a secret and who has told friends, family about their H and different reactions you've had to this.

I've had H for about 6 years and have never told family or friends. I've told potential sex partners but that's it.

I don't want people pre-judging me and I don't want H to be my defining characteristic with other people. The reality is that people DO talk about this kind of revelation because it's so deliciously scandalous, and I don't want people who barely know me only knowing me as "that guy with herpes." H is not a big part of my life and I don't want others to think of me that way.

I also admit that for a while I was ashamed. That was just built in conditioning from years of hearing herpes jokes and thinking it's something that other unfortunate people had to deal with but not me. Suddenly I was a statistic. My family is religious and conservative, sexually, so this added to my feeling the stigma of having an STD. They are wonderful, loving people, but I didn't feel this concerned them.

At one point early on, I hoped they would find a cure, I could get rid of this and no one would ever know, lol.

Anyway, I'm at a point where I could tell close friends. I no longer feel this must be a secret I take to the grave. But I'm also thinking, what's the point? I'm not sure what good it would do. At the same time, I've always been a very open person and I no longer feel ashamed of having this.

Maybe if people know I have it, they will see it's not such a big deal. Maybe someone else who is hiding it will gain strength from me being open about it. Maybe someone close to me also has it and it would help them to be able to talk to me etc?

I'm really wondering if, now that I've made my peace with having H, maybe it could do some good by being open about it with people?

Well, I'd like to hear other people's experiences...

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gotitsowhat

My own experience

I am an older chick, an aging hippie. I kept this a secret for 10 years. i got GH from a much beloved long term boyfriend who cheated on me, caught GH, did not tell me about it because he wanted to cover up the cheating, then died of lung cancer. Then I found out about his cheating and I found out on the day he died (it's hard to keep secrets when you are dead). Three months after he died, I had symptoms, saw doctors and was diagnosed with herpes. It was awful. I felt betrayed, embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, lonely and unable to even talk about this. So for 10 years I kept it a secret.

Eventually, I got tired of living this way, and I got up the nerve to tell a couple of close long time friends. They were wonderful and very supportive. I realized that it was ridiculous for me to keep this a secret from people who care about me. I also realized that when everyone in your circle of friends knows about it, you don't have to worry about having "the talk" with anyone you might meet through friends because there is a pretty good chance they will know about it.

Since I have long time friends, and since they are intelligent, educated compassionate people, I do not fear that they will define me by my herpes. I think that people who find the idea of someone having herpes deliciously scandalous would be the kind of people I would almost certainly not want to date or even know. If someone like that finds out about my herpes and wants to stay away from me because of it, that is A-OK with me, a blessing even! I have urged my friends to be very open about it and not hesitate to mention it if the subject comes up. I want everyone in my circle of acquaintanceship to know about it.

And I believe in speaking up if someone is putting down someone with herpes. I do not know if I would actually identify myself as a herpes sufferer, but I know I would not let this kind of thing go without comment.

This last summer, I walked around Venice Beach and a few others places wearing tee shirts that identified me as someone likely to be suffering herpes. One had big yellow letters on it that read: VALTREX and the other one had big letters on it that read: HERPES

Disclosure

Before

Exposure

I had many interesting conversations with people about my tee shirt. I did have a few nasty looks, a few glares of disapproval. But I also had one conversation with a very nice soft spoken young man who said, simply, "Thank you for being out front and bold for those of us who don't have the courage." There are a lot of herpes sufferers out there.

One interesting and encouraging reaction I had from some old friends in another city, a place I used to live (Seattle). I had told one of them about my herpes through long distance phone and told him to go ahead and tell anyone he felt like telling who knew me. A few days later he talked to me again and he said, "Your old friends and I had an informal symposium on your herpes." They had sat around drinking coffee while he described my phone call and what I'd told him. I laughed and asked him, "So, how did the symposium go?" He answered, "Well, let me put it this way, there are a whole lot of guys in your old crowd who want to meet you all over again. If you come up here to Seattle, you won't have a problem getting dates."

It's amazing how many people have this little virus.

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gotitsowhat

Oh, yeah, one more thing...

I hate to bring this up because it might upset people, but the truth is, if you have told anyone at all about your herpes, there is a pretty good chance that people in your world will find out about it sooner or later, often sooner. People have a way of telling secrets and if they don't outright tell, they hint. People may believe they are keeping your confidence but will feel that it really doesn't count if they tell their best friend. their spouse, or their sister, brother, mother etc. Or it doesn't count if they swear the person to secrecy (like they were?!). Rumors get around. For 10 years I knew that no one in my world knew because only two people knew when I got diagnosed, the doctor who diagnosed me and me. As soon as you tell anyone, it almost always gets around.

I am posting this because so often I read posts, usually by young people, that say something like: "I 've only told two people, my best friend and my other close friend and, of course, my mom and my aunt but no one knows about it and I'd die if they found out...." If you have told anyone, you can be pretty sure that a lot more people will find out sooner or later. People talk. And people get mad at you and tell because they are mad at you. And relatives tell other relatives because they think it's just family etc etc.

So, if you fear other people finding out, consider that they may find out anyway eventually, so maybe it's better if they hear it from you.

Yes, they may decide that herpes is one of your defining characteristics, especially if they are limited people and/or don't know you well, but they will also decide that courage is one of your defining characteristics as well.

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Shayna

Thank you, I liked your post.

It's interesting how our own view of our hsv changes with time. In the begining I told two good friends. I really needed some emotional support and wanted to be able to talk openly with someone about my feelings. They were completely supportive, by the way.

I have a close childhood friend who I swim with 3 days a week. I could have sworn I had mentioned it to her in the past, but a few weeks ago we were in the dressing room talking, and I mentioned something about my hsv. Her eyes got real big and she had this surprised look on her face. I instantly thought "Oh shit, could she be judging me?" Then she proceeded to tell me she contracted ghsv1 from her husband, via oral, a couple of years ago and she had suffered severe ob's and had to work through emotional pain she had with it.

She was so relieved to know she wasn't alone! Not that she would wish this on me, or anyone, but we had grown up together and had been through so much life together. She said, while laughing, "Now we have herpes together".

It made me feel good to know that one of my dearest friends had some comfort in knowing that she had a comrade and nolonger felt alone.

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chooseyourbattles

I think you should tell your good friends.

You might need support from someone, and if your friends really care about you, they won't treat you differently. I told most of mine, and most of them still saw me as the same person.

Also, if you tell your friends, you are helping get the word out. Maybe if they see that a normal, well-adjusted person has it, they will be more likely to accept a partner with herpes, and to see herpes as a common and minor affliction, like asthma, instead of a reason to be expelled from society.

People fear the unknown, and the people you know who are uneducated about herpes might think that everyone who has it is hiding out in a closet somewhere.

I know from personal experience that people who have friends with herpes are far more likely to take the risk of contracting it.

On the downside, yes, the more people you tell about your herpes, the more likely it is to get out, and some people in your circle might see you as a "herpes person". However, I think that depends largely on where you live, and in NYC I think people might be more desensitized to that, since many of them see it all the time.

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Ultra Violet

Brainyblonde I love your work... you said it much better than I.

I've not had the virus long (only 2 months) but for me, not telling anyone was too difficult. I'm a very open person. As a result of having a childhood full of secrets and feeling the isolation of that, I have an aversion to feeling compelled to keep a secret (of mine).

I chose not to keep HSV a "secret" and have told a few friends, some work colleagues and a half dozen potential dates. The reaction I've had has been really positive...much more than I thought it would be. I know that there is a risk these people will tell others but I don't really care. What others think of me is none of my business. If they choose to judge me because I caught a virus well...bugger them!

However, I got to this place in my life through a tough childhood and nearly 4 years of therapy so I am not advocating that you through all caution to the wind without serious consideration about how you would handle a negative reaction. I'm a very assertive person now and not everyone is.

Brainyblonde posted once about secrets vs privacy and I suggest you look as it's a great one.

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notamused

i would definitely say tell some close friends.

when i first found out about this i was such a mess that i just had to tell some friends, and also my mum.

i have since told more friends, as i've had to go through various periods of herpes-related depression. i literally would not have been able to cope with this if i had kept it to myself.

besides that, i'm not embarassed in the slightest about having this, because it was not my fault in any way. everyone i've told also knows i got this from my first and only sex partner, so i think they all feel pretty sorry for me and have been wonderfully supportive. which has really helped convince me that my life isn't over!

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coronaking

Hey bro, word for word, almost the same reason i havent told anyone. Not a soul.

This is not about telling sexual partners about your

H. It's about telling friends, family etc.

I'm just curious about who has chosen to keep this a secret and who has told friends, family about their H and different reactions you've had to this.

I've had H for about 6 years and have never told family or friends. I've told potential sex partners but that's it.

I don't want people pre-judging me and I don't want H to be my defining characteristic with other people. The reality is that people DO talk about this kind of revelation because it's so deliciously scandalous, and I don't want people who barely know me only knowing me as "that guy with herpes." H is not a big part of my life and I don't want others to think of me that way.

I also admit that for a while I was ashamed. That was just built in conditioning from years of hearing herpes jokes and thinking it's something that other unfortunate people had to deal with but not me. Suddenly I was a statistic. My family is religious and conservative, sexually, so this added to my feeling the stigma of having an STD. They are wonderful, loving people, but I didn't feel this concerned them.

At one point early on, I hoped they would find a cure, I could get rid of this and no one would ever know, lol.

Anyway, I'm at a point where I could tell close friends. I no longer feel this must be a secret I take to the grave. But I'm also thinking, what's the point? I'm not sure what good it would do. At the same time, I've always been a very open person and I no longer feel ashamed of having this.

Maybe if people know I have it, they will see it's not such a big deal. Maybe someone else who is hiding it will gain strength from me being open about it. Maybe someone close to me also has it and it would help them to be able to talk to me etc?

I'm really wondering if, now that I've made my peace with having H, maybe it could do some good by being open about it with people?

Well, I'd like to hear other people's experiences...

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Groovy
Hey bro, word for word, almost the same reason i havent told anyone. Not a soul.

One reason I was able to go so long without telling anyone is that I got this during a long relationship (neither of us knew who gave it to who. I never had symptoms prior) so for the first two years I had it, I had a girlfriend. This softened the blow at a time that I probably would have felt very isolated.

Coronaking, how are you dealing with this without telling anyone? Do you feel it's more difficult by keeping it a secret?

The main thing with me is that I now have accepted myself with H. It is part of who I am and I am not ashamed. That took quite a few years to get to, but I'm less concerned now with wanting to keep this a secret.

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Livelyone

A cause that should be taken on!

I have personally told few. I feel it is something personal about me that few should have the privilege of knowing. When I first found out I told my best friend. It was no big deal to her. After hanging out with my mother I noticed she had a whopping big sore on her upper lip. I then felt quite safe to tell her. After telling her my dad was next. My family shares everything, food and drink related that is. (Gross right, but I humor them.) During the Thanksgiving Holidays my dad wanted something I drinking. I of course was just getting over an outbreak and refused him. He took offence so I revealed it to him. He said “Sooo, I want a drink.” I continue to explain what herpes was, he still did not care. He even threatened to steal a kiss. The unconditional love of family is priceless.

I have chosen to keep this matter personal for now. I do have a desire though to reveal it world. I am an advocate at heart. This is a cause that should be taken on. I hate the fact that so many are so frighten by the knowledge of this. I too am a very open person; I despise the feeling of being held hostage because of a stigma. If I ever do announce this to the world, I will do it big and trust me you all will hear about it. It is just right now I have too many other battles I am fighting.

I don’t know it may already exist; perhaps we could have a Herpes Awareness Day. It could be a national day where those that suffer with Herpes could announce it to family and friends and further education on the subject could occur.

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Ultra Violet

I have chosen to keep this matter personal for now. I do have a desire though to reveal it world. I am an advocate at heart. This is a cause that should be taken on. I hate the fact that so many are so frighten by the knowledge of this. I too am a very open person; I despise the feeling of being held hostage because of a stigma. If I ever do announce this to the world, I will do it big and trust me you all will hear about it. It is just right now I have too many other battles I am fighting.

I don’t know it may already exist; perhaps we could have a Herpes Awareness Day. It could be a national day where those that suffer with Herpes could announce it to family and friends and further education on the subject could occur.

Never underestimate the power of gentle advocacy; informing people who are misinformed, putting the cruel jokesters in their place, telling one or two close friends or family so they are informed and make better sexual choices.

I like the idea of an awareness day but lets make it INTERNATIONAL :D

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notamused

i feel like hiding it promotes the stigma somewhat...i know its alot to aim for and would take alot of courage but i would like to demonstrate to others that i'm living with this, coping with this, and not letting it dictate my life. because day by day im getting more angry about the miseducation around this damn virus which makes is likely that sometime in the future at least one of my friends will be in a situation involving herpes/contract it themselves. if i've set a good example/been reasonably open about it they will know already that its not the end of the world and also that there is someone they can come to.

man that wasnt very well-articulated but i can never quite be bothered ;)

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strong1

NOOO! I would not tell. The only person I told was my best friend of 8 years (i'm 22). We are no longer friends, and these days I don't even feel comfortable being around our mutual friends, because I don't know what they know, and she has told me secrets about others. Do not do it unless you don't mind having others know.

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Semika

still in the closet

I have gh and the only person i have told is my boyfriend, of course the person i contracted the virus from also knows because i confronted him when i found out. Right now i am dealing with an ob that has been ongoing since early december and all i have done is lock myself away from everone and literally just cry, i feel so ashame about this condition, i think my suffering is more emotional than physical. Honestly every time i get an ob ifeel suicidal, if it wasn't for my daughter who is 16, maybe i would go over the edge.

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bluefrog

I have had GH for almost two years. I have told, my doctor of course, the loser who gave it to me, my one and only sexual partner since I contracted it, and my bff (only told her about 5 months ago). My family is waaayyy too judgmental and i dont ever want my kids to know.

I agree that the more people who know, the more people will find out. Unfortunately in today's day and age there are people who say they are your trusted friends, but in the end are not.

It is such a very personal choice....to tell or not to tell. I dont have anything to say about who tells and who doesnt.

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regret

i have told a few of my friends and family memebers..the reaction is REALLY?? and then they ask questions..i feel i am a tool to educate and to inform others, so its not such a big deal... many of th people i know have teenage sons or daughters so i educate them to inform thier kids..most people really could really care less.. i feel the more it is out in the open the less stigma thier is to it...many times when i reveal that i have it ,,they opn up to me and tell me what they have had..and i can honestly say that most people have had one std or another in thier lifetime...wether it was crabs, ghonnereah,hpv..the list goes on......man times if people see that its no big deal to you,,it isnt to them either...would you be embarressed if you had breast cancer? or a cold sore on your face? or if you had chicken pox? the only stigma it has is what value you place on it.

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anna99

What a great post, Regret. I think you said it exactly right and in a way most of us newbies don't think about. Well put!

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bennismama

I admire the strength and wisdom on this board. Everyday I feel less and less shame by my virus. I think it's a personal choice and comfort level to share the details with others. It seems to come in time with acceptance and understanding it.

I have really hard times when I get an OB and without being able to share it with others, like my family, It would be much worse.

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