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Simplex Solution

By Mink Stole | Posted 2/11/2004

I got herpes from my ex-boyfriend, who really didn't know he had it. I know I'll have it the rest of my life, but it's Simplex 1, so it's not that bad and I'm adjusting. My gynecologist told me I probably would never have another outbreak. She also told me that it's only contagious when I do have an outbreak. Otherwise there is less than a 5 percent chance of someone else contracting it. The big problem is that I've been dating Steve for about two months. I adore him, and he feels the same way about me. We've had sex several times, but I didn't know how to tell him about the herpes. Most of the time we used condoms, but twice we didn't. I'm afraid that if I tell him now, he'll be really pissed off, which he would have the complete right to be. I know I am a horrible person for doing this, but I am so embarrassed that I don't know what to do! I called my gynecologist and told her what happened, and she said that though I should not have done it, the chances of him catching it are so small that I shouldn't worry about it, but he should get tested. What the fuck do I do, Mink? How do I tell him? The second he hears the word "herpes" he'll freak. How do I get him to hear me all the way through to make him really understand? Please help!

Terribly Guilty and Scared

Dear TGAS:
Nobody likes talking about herpes, but embarrassment is never an excuse for risking somebody else's health. If you're not grown up enough to speak frankly, you're not grown up enough to have sex. How you tell him depends on how important you consider honesty in a relationship. Since you've already been less than totally up front, you could pretend you've just been to the gynecologist, gotten a herpes test just to be on the safe side, and the positive result is a complete shock. Or you could say you went because your ex-boyfriend just confessed he might have unknowingly passed it on to you. If you're nervous about an out and out lie, or if you've confided in someone who might blow your cover, then you might need to tell him the whole truth, regardless of the consequences. In a calm voice, tell him you know you should have told him before, but you didn't think there was any risk, and your gynecologist thinks he's probably safe. Tell him everything your doctor told you. Tell him you'll understand if he's so angry he doesn't want to see you anymore, but that you care about him too much not to tell him. If he cares about you, he'll probably forgive you, especially if he's not infected. But even at the risk of losing him, you have to tell him. Now. Think how much worse you'd feel if you gave it to him. And think how much better you'll feel when you can drop the load of guilt you're hauling around.

Steve's not totally off the hook either. Safe sex is everyone's responsibility, and it's his job too to insist on using a condom. After abstinence (yeah, right) condoms are our best defense against the spread of STDs.

I'm single and a little lonely, so I let a friend of mine set me up with a blind date recently. It was a nightmare. My friend raved about how great this guy was: successful, good looking, et cetera, et cetera, but he was a complete loser. Not only was he a total bore who couldn't talk about anything but himself, but his table manners were atrocious. He ate with his hands and talked while he chewed. Gross. We went to a movie after dinner, and he yakked through the whole thing. I was mortified. After the movie I begged off with a headache and grabbed a taxi home. He was so full of himself that I was afraid he'd be one of those guys who thinks "no" means a coy "yes," and I'd never get rid of him. What's the best way to get out of a dating disaster?

No More Blind Dates

Dear NMBD:

Have you never heard of a cell phone? It's the bad date equivalent of the get-out-of-jail-free card. Before you leave the house you arrange for someone to call you a half-hour or so into the date. If the date's a bust, you claim an emergency and clear out. If it's OK so far, tell your phone friend to keep you posted, which means call back in an hour. This is such a standard maneuver that your date will know exactly what you're up to--he's probably made a similar arrangement--but it does allow for a more graceful exit than running from the restaurant screaming, "I can't take it anymore."

Blind dates get a bad rap, mainly because they usually suck, but even a date we set up for ourselves can turn bad. Looking for a mate is like Dumpster diving--you have to paw through a whole lot of trash to find something worth keeping.

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