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Will he still find me desirable?
August 3, 2010 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Last week I was diagnosed with herpes. Will my boyfriend be attracted to me again?

Last week I went to the doctor to check out what I thought was an allergic reaction and turned out to be genital herpes. I started crying, and all the rest. I went straight home to my boyfriend of 6 months (we live together too... we've no interest in "normal" timelines) and he asked immediately what the doctor had said. I told him well, there's no way to know who brought it in or whatever, but, we have herpes.

The doctor had explained it to me that since we've been in contact, no matter what, we both have it. I hesitate to put more stock in what I find online than what an actual doctor told me, but what I've been reading seems to say that unless there was sex during an active outbreak, the "unaffected" partner may remain so.

But, like I said, I don't know who had it first. It strikes me as odd that after 10 or so years of being sexually active I would suddenly experience my first outbreak, but he's never had one, but he could be asymptomatic, blah blah blah.

None of this is the issue - he responded in the very best way I could have hoped for and has been nothing but caring and sweet and helpful. I'm still on the anti-viral meds and am already feeling loads better, and that's all well and good.

My question to those of you who have been on either side of this - whether you were the "victim" or the partner of one - was it hard to find your partner attractive again? I personally would feel grossed out by me and scared to touch me ever again. I really hope that's not the case, and I don't get the feeling that it is, but I want to know if anyone's got any tips or suggestions for cresting that hill (when the time comes, obviously, I've got about a week or so until I'll remotely feel like we're in the clear).

Also, I'm not looking for any "he cheated" or "did you cheat" type of stuff. We live in each others' pockets and that is in no way an issue here. :)

I know this is a sensitive topic so I thank you in advance for answering.


Throwaway email: temp1127@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total)
 
This doesn't directly answer your question, but FYI, my current partner was married to a woman with herpes for some years, and they had condomless sex, avoided sex during outbreaks, and he came away without the virus (he got tested with me). Had he had herpes I would not have been disgusted, I would have just taken the necessary precautions, because, damn... the sex is worth it.
posted by greta simone at 9:22 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute. Not to dismiss your concerns, but it doesn't sound like your boyfriend has stopped being attracted to you. Herpes actually isn't that big a deal, and he seems to know that. So please, you're not doing yourself any good by worrying about something that hasn't happened, may not happen, and that you really can't control anyway. Also, you say you "don't get the feeling" he's scared to touch you. Maybe it would help you to hear him say it. Even if he is having a few doubts right now, he is the only person who can tell you that. So talk to him.

Is this maybe more about how you're feeling about yourself, though? Would you even feel as grossed out about your boyfriend's herpes as you do about your own? The notion that herpes is something dirty and shameful that only bad people can catch is stupid and plain wrong, but you can't help being affected by them. It will take some getting over, but please, please try. Work with the facts and forget all that other rubbish. You are not dirty, you are not gross, and you are as touchable as you ever were. For most people it really is just a rash.

I believe your doctor is wrong though, and there's a perfectly good chance your boyfriend doesn't have herpes, if he didn't have it before you. If you two use condoms the chance is higher, but it exists in any case. Talk about what you would do if he doesn't have it, and then have him go get tested. Best of luck.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:38 PM on August 3, 2010


two or three cars parked under the stars made the exact same points I was more slowly, less eloquently composing. QFT: Would you even feel as grossed out about your boyfriend's herpes as you do about your own?
posted by domnit at 9:45 PM on August 3, 2010


I know it is not your question but this "The doctor had explained it to me that since we've been in contact, no matter what, we both have it" is ridonkulous and not true, and not only that, doctors make mistaken diagnoses of herpes all the time, when all they do is a visual examination. If the doctor didn't do a blood test, if it were me, I'd have one done.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:34 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


This other herpes question today is different from yours (it's about how to tell the news to one's partner), but you might want to listen to the Savage Love podcast that's linked in the first comment.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:57 PM on August 3, 2010


Yeah. Wait a minute. How did the doctor diagnose you? A visual examination doesn't cut it. Did he take a culture of one of the "sores"? Did you get the blood test? You need to get a culture and a blood test. A really bad yeast infection can look/feel like genital herpes. Go to a different doctor - the fact that this one told you that your boyfriend automatically has it raises red flags.
posted by grayber at 11:10 PM on August 3, 2010


There is a ton of misinformation out there about herpes and that's part of the reason why it's spreading like wildfire. This may answer a lot of your questions.

I personally would feel grossed out by me and scared to touch me ever again.
Don't ever think this about yourself. Please. It's just not true.
posted by lucysparrow at 12:33 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Herpes was a big deal - before HIV/AIDS came along.

I personally would feel grossed out by me and scared to touch me ever again.

And you would be wrong. Just because you have it there is no reason your boyfriend should have it. I dated a girl for years with herpes and it never bothered me. She got it because she was extremely sexually active which was one of the things that attracted me to her.... it was part of the package. She told me upfront before we got busy the first time "I've kissed a lot of boys" was how she explained it. "And I always use condoms" was my reply.

We were however careful to change our habits when she had an outbreak and I never contracted it myself. An inconvenience, but nothing more than that.
posted by three blind mice at 4:12 AM on August 4, 2010


I'm just chiming in to say that while no, of course you don't want to get medical advice from the internet, you do want to make sure you are correctly diagnosed and have a real and thorough understanding of whatever it is you've got.

Your post is not clear how you were diagnosed. If this was a visual-only exam, that is not a diagnosis. Your doctor is also incorrect, and you are correct, that if you have not had unprotected sex with your partner during an outbreak, there's a fine chance he doesn't have it.

You find out if he has it, and if you have it, with testing. With a new doctor.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:18 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blood test should be type-specific as well. You might have type i or type ii.
posted by gaspode at 6:20 AM on August 4, 2010


A blood test will not be informative until 6-8 weeks after your first outbreak. Don't demand a blood test yet.

In 6-8 weeks, both you and your boyfriend should go get type specific blood tests.

Did your doctor prescribe any anti-viral medication for you? You should be able to take a big dose now to mitigate the extreme suckiness of the initial outbreak, and then a daily prophylactic dose to prevent future outbreaks and decrease the risk of spreading the virus to your partner.
posted by telegraph at 6:39 AM on August 4, 2010


See a gyno. They are the ones who will do the test.

But he doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

So why do you?

Also, I'm not looking for any "he cheated" or "did you cheat" type of stuff. We live in each others' pockets and that is in no way an issue here. :)

May I gently suggest that you may have some difficult feelings about all of this and need to work them out? In other words, there could be some unaddressed fears and anger regarding the origin of the infection that have nothing to do with the reality of whether or not it happened. Addressing those might give you the sort of relief you're seeking.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 AM on August 4, 2010


If the doctor did not do a blood test go to another doctor and find one.

I am a guy but italian and i am always getting infected hair folicles down there. They would look like i had herpes but arent (i went to a docotr babout them. He stated happens alot when you shave down there).

So make sure that you get a blood test.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:49 AM on August 4, 2010


I once dated a girl with herpes. It didn't make her any less attractive, it just meant there was another precautionary step or two to take before we ever fooled around.

It sounds like your boyfriend is pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and you should be too. Everything will be fine.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:01 AM on August 4, 2010


The doctor had explained it to me that since we've been in contact, no matter what, we both have it.

It's been said before, but this is idiotic. I have more than one friend who've been in long relationships without giving it to their partners- one of them a decades long relationship.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:50 AM on August 4, 2010


"The doctor had explained it to me that since we've been in contact, no matter what, we both have it"

Absolutely not true. In fact, I find it shocking that a doctor would say such a thing. It sounds to me like you need to start going to a better doctor.

Your boyfriend needs to get tested.

Best of luck to you both.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:11 PM on August 4, 2010


Well, if you've done this much research online, you must know that roughly 1/6 people are diagnosed with HSV-2 (and without a doubt many more than that are infected and asymptomatic, like your boyfriend likely is). It's just not that big of a deal. And it's harmless. Most people have a few breakouts at most. I empathize with your shock and sadness, but in the end, there are better things to cry about. I'm sure you two will get over it soon.
posted by namesarehard at 6:36 PM on August 4, 2010


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