Who will want me?
It is not uncommon for people to react to having herpes with fear and self-doubt. When a person with herpes thinks that he or she can never again have a sexual relationship, or thinks that he or she is trapped in a bad relationship because no one else would ever want him (her), or settles for a relationship with someone that he (she) would have rejected except for herpes, or feels that he (she) can now only date others who have herpes, that is the fear and self-doubt talking.
One of the most important things that a person with herpes needs to work through is this fear and self-doubt. First, recognize your enemies. Fear and self-doubt are more formidable enemies than the virus. We can handle the virus; it's the fear and self-doubt that have the power to defeat us. Then, having identified the enemies, start working on overcoming them. How do you do that? This is where the support of others who have gone through the same experience is your best ally.
Fear and self-doubt make us feel like damaged goods. We fear that "no one will want me". We doubt that we can find acceptance. If that's the way you feel now, we've been there too. But this reaction to having herpes is just a phase. For some of us, it only lasts a short time; for others it may last several years.
Our experience at Cincinnati HELP is that, once we are ready to leave that phase behind, we find that herpes hasn't really made much of a difference in how prospective partners see us. If a good person really cares and really wants to have a relationship with you, it is rare that he or she will run away because you have herpes. You don't have to settle for a life alone, and you don't have to settle for someone you would not have chosen if you didn't have herpes.
Through the years, we've seen many people who had been avoiding dating. Today, most of them are in happy long term relationships with people who do not have herpes. We've also seen people who stuck with a bad relationship for fear that they couldn't find anyone else. Most of them are also now in happy long-term relationships with good and caring partners.
Others think they need to limit themselves to others who have herpes too. Of course, it is entirely possible that you could find your Mr. Right or Miss Right within the "H Community". But if that happens, the relationship will be based on far more than the simple fact that both of you have herpes.
Some of us do place limitations on ourselves, and sometimes those limitations may be valid. We know some people who rule out family friends, the people their aunts and brothers and sisters keep trying to fix them up with. We know others who will not date anyone from their workplace. They fear that family members or coworkers may find out. For some, that secrecy may be so important that it is worth limiting themselves to a smaller pool of prospective dates.
We cannot tell you what is right and what is wrong. But we do want to reassure you that any limitations are grounded in your own attitudes and feelings; herpes itself does not impose the limitations. And since that is so, you yourself have the power to break free of them. You do not have to live as a prisoner of fear and of self-doubt.