Although telling someone you’re interested in can be intimidating, there are different ways to do it, and you might find one easier than the others.
In the past, Carlson would put the herpes conversation on the table quickly.
They both say it can be nerve-racking, but a few things help: sitting the person down in a place that’s comfortable for them, trying not to be too emotional, starting off with something like, “Hey, there’s something I need to talk to you about,” and bringing a wealth of knowledge to the conversation.“I always try to be calm and not too clinical but explain that I have done the research,” Carlson says.Davis agrees, saying she fills people in on key details, like how herpes is transmitted, how transmission can be prevented, whether she’s taking medication that keeps the virus from multiplying, thus making it less likely to transmit, and how to find more information about the STD.To top it all off, she also tells them they don’t have to make a decision about whether to continue seeing her—or even respond—right away. But I usually peace out so they have their space to chew on it,” she says.Davis says the number one question they get on The STD Project is about how to tell a new partner.“I don’t like wasting my time or getting my heart broken, so I think it’s a self-defense thing to almost always tell the guy on the first date,” she explains.
“If they want to cut and run, I haven’t invested too much of myself in it.”But in the future, she thinks she’ll take her time disclosing as long as she gets it done before engaging in sexual activities that would put the other person at risk.On sites like Positive Singles and HMates, users are expected to be open about their diagnoses, but because they know everyone else there has an STD, too, it removes a huge barrier—and the question of whether the information will send a potential partner packing.“It’s a great way to see you’re still the same interesting, sexy, desirable person,” Davis says.“It helps rebuild the confidence that gets hammered down when you get that diagnosis.” (She is a spokesperson for Positive Singles, but she’s never used any STD-specific dating site.)Carlson, who got back into dating via this kind of site after her diagnosis, agrees.“This isn’t everyone’s experience, but when I started dating with herpes, I found out none of my partners cared.”Although she sees that it’s intriguing to potentially avoid attachment—and thus heartbreak—by telling someone right out the gate, she makes an excellent point in favor of taking your time: “Nobody tells you all of the things about themselves that you usually don’t find out for a bit, like they have really bad credit or they’re a horrible cook, until you get to know each other.” Of course, it’s different with a health condition you can pass to someone else, but it’s worth noting.Although they tell potential partners at different points in the relationship, Carlson and Davis’ actual disclosure process is pretty similar.When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum.