Dear Vix: ‘I’m 66 and I don’t know whether to tell my new partner that I have an STD’



dear vix,

I am 66 years old and I am a man. When I was 34 years old, I was in a relationship with a lady who found out she had genitals herpes. I also tested positive. Had a couple of flings so I blamed myself and even though we are no longer in a relationship, that guilt remains with me.

It took me a long time to deal with it, but over the years the frequency of my herpes incidents has reduced substantially and they mostly occur when I am stressed or exhausted. And now I can “handle” things with the Acyclovir tablets. Since the first episode, I’ve told every sexual partner I’ve ever had including my wife. Everyone I told was supportive and understanding and I managed my condition safely; then we had three children and she did not get herpes.

After 12 years, my marriage ended and once again I was faced with the prospect of having to tell my new partners about my herpes. this terrified me particularly being much older and having to start all over again. I even saw a counselor about it. It took me seven years before I got up the courage to have another sexual relationship, and I had to face my problems about letting potential partners know about my “story.” Overwhelmingly, every lady I have been with since then has been really understanding and supportive. In fact, some have had herpes themselves. and I suspect he would not have revealed this to me unless I had mentioned it.

In February 2021, I met someone I really liked and felt I had to divulge my “status”. She had been married for a long time and had only had one sexual partner since her divorce. When I told her that she had herpes, I received the most negative reaction she has ever experienced. She immediately said that she couldn’t have a relationship with me. We keep in touch and she has apologized, although we haven’t seen each other. She says that she had led a more sheltered life than mine. We still like each other, but the whole experience has taken a toll on my confidence, she’s left me feeling bruised and genuinely shocked. She has made me question the whole approach to living with herpes. Is honesty still the best policy? Or have things changed? Should the approach remain open and full disclosure? when is the best time and how? Should I do it in person or in writing? I thought I understood how to do this, but now I’m really confused and disappointed!

Confused, Herts.

Dear Confused,

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I want to applaud you for several key things: for taking your part in your first relationship; for being open and honest with every sexual partner you’ve had since then (this is absolutely crucial); for being brave enough to see a counselor when you were struggling to cope; and for seeking help now. That is profound and admirable. Well done.

And no, you’re not wrong, I firmly believe that honesty is forever the best policy, and never more so than when sharing information about your sexual health with a partner you plan to be intimate with. In my opinion, it’s a huge breach of trust if you don’t, and could even be construed as a lack of consent if you knowingly infected someone with an STD without telling them.

I understand that you now feel burned out by the negative reaction you received from a woman you cared about, but I want to assure you that you did the right thing. I also want to remind you that you are not responsible for how someone reacts to news that is difficult for them to process for their own reasons.

The way he responded to your news says a lot more about his own feelings than it does about you. And I think it’s important to keep in mind that people can often react to things out of fear and lack of understanding. It seems to me quite possible that the woman she confided in may have panicked: she decided to push you away, rather than face her own (possibly distressing) feelings about you and your health.

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Maybe she doesn’t know much about what it really means to have herpes, and assumes it’s more serious or life-changing than it really is: after all, she’s managed to control it successfully with medication, and it didn’t even happen. to his wife. That just goes to show that being honest and seeking medical advice when really necessary is worth it.

I want to implore you not to lose all confidence now, or walk away from close romantic connections. Don’t close yourself off from hope, possibility, or love. Try to remember that you are not responsible for another person’s feelings, reactions, or happiness. You are only responsible for your own. Telling all future sexual partners that you have herpes is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. Keep doing it.

Victoria Richards is the advice columnist for The Independent. She has a degree in psychology and has a postgraduate degree in counseling and psychotherapy. Do you have problems with work, love, family or friends? Contact [email protected]


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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