Talking to Your Partner or Family About Genital Herpes



Living With Herpes




Talking to Your Partner or Family About Genital Herpes

Telling someone you know and care about that you have genital herpes can be difficult and you may be afraid of having the discussion.


You may worry that if you are honest with your partner or family about having genital herpes that they will be unsupportive, or that they will judge or even be angry with you.


It is important to remember that genital herpes is a very common disease, and having genital herpes is only a small part of who you are.


You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about having genital herpes, and you should not let someone else make you feel that way. The more comfortable you become with yourself as someone who has genital herpes, the easier it will be for you to talk to others about your condition.


To Tell or Not to Tell

Some people choose not to tell their partner about their genital herpes. They abstain from sex during outbreaks and practice safe sex at other times. So what's the harm in this? Most people who don't tell spend a lot of time worrying that their partner will get herpes. Also, it might be more difficult to talk about the subject the longer you put it off. In addition, it is still possible to transmit genital herpes to your partner even though you are not showing symptoms.


Not telling your partner that you are infected with genital herpes can be very damaging to your relationship. Making excuses about not having sex during an outbreak can create distance between you and your partner. Your partner may interpret your excuses as something far more damaging to the relationship than genital herpes. If your partner contracts genital herpes, they will probably be angry and hurt that you weren't honest with them in the first place. As difficult as it may seem, being open and honest may be the best way.


How Do I Tell My Partner I Have Genital Herpes?

People often do tell their partners about their genital herpes, and many have found their partners to be supportive and understanding. Before you talk to your partner about genital herpes, make sure that you know the basic facts about herpes and have the correct information. If you are entering into a new relationship, be sure to talk to your partner before having sex, even though you may be tempted to wait.


Do not try to talk to your partner in a crowded bar or at a party, while traveling somewhere for a romantic weekend, just before or after having sex, or in any type of intimate situation. The discussion should take place somewhere that you feel safe and comfortable such as dinner at home, a quiet restaurant, or a park.


Try to be confident and natural, and speak calmly and clearly while looking the person in the face. This may be difficult, but your delivery affects your message. The more comfortable you are, and the more positive your attitude, the more positive their response is likely to be. Try not to be overly negative, or use words like disgusting and awful. It's important to allow for the fact that one or both of you may become emotional.


Your partner may react in a number of ways. Some people overreact, while others will not be upset. However, just as it probably took you some time to accept and understand your diagnosis, so will your partner need some time to think through what you have told him or her. Don't rush a reaction or decision from them, and be sure to talk about how having genital herpes will—and won't—affect your relationship.


Some people may react negatively no matter what you say, and negative reactions are often the result of misinformation. Encourage your partner to talk to someone at a sexual health center or provide him or her with written information to look over, including information from this Web site.




What Do I Say?

Here are some ideas for starting a discussion about genital herpes with your partner:


  • "Now that we are becoming more intimate, I think it's important that we talk about sex. Can we talk now?"



  • "We get along very well and I really enjoy spending time with you. I believe that we should be completely honest with each other. I'd like to talk about our sexual histories."



An honest and open discussion about genital herpes may actually strengthen your relationship and bring you and your partner closer together. In addition, your partner may be able to provide you with the support you need. It's important to realize that by telling your partner about genital herpes, you have demonstrated that you care about him or her and your relationship.


 The Stages of a Genital Herpes Outbreak