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Now she has outbreaks almost every month, usually around her period or when she's feeling particularly stressed. Living with herpes as a single woman has forced Jenna to hone her technique for telling potential sexual partners: She is informative, stays calm and never attempts to make them feel sorry for her.

Jenna waits several dates to break the news -- long enough that she feels comfortable bringing up something so intimate, but well before sex is on the table in any kind of real way. The rest of the time, they're rough. They run, even after months of movies, ice cream, long talks and dinners and middle-of-the-night texting," she said.

For all the shame and secrecy that surrounds sexually transmitted infections STIs , they are incredibly common. The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new infections occur each year in the United States, half in young people between the ages of 15 and And yet for many single, sexually-active young women with STIs, navigating the dating world can feel, at best, like a delicate dance; at worst, a full-on minefield.

Jenna knows that stigma all too well.

Your speaking out about it, your interviews on the subject, and your articles that you have written about it, got you where you are today and have made for you a social media as well a cultural presence. It has opened doors for you in the journalism and even political worlds, that otherwise would not have been opened so easily for you if they would have opened for you at all. It has also gained you a much larger following than your feminist activism alone would have gotten you. As a result, you, now that you have achieved a modicum of success, seem very much disassociated from the feelings of those who helped propel you to the status you now enjoy and the rewards that came with it as I have already listed.

When you began your journey, you had so much compassion, not just for those who struggled with herpes, but for those afraid of contracting it. This article you have written is proof of that, and it makes one wonder, where did the compassionate, understanding Ella go, and now that she has achieved success does she even care at all anymore about the fear that still exists about herpes both from those who have it and those afraid to contract it? Very sad indeed to watch you become the very type of person you have spent so much time fighting against.

In a very real way, you STI has made you successful while your infection by the hate of others has robbed you of the compassion you once had. You talk a lot of talk, and are shaming this woman. We would never want to pass it on to someone else. But we get looked at like we have a life threatening disease.

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Do you think someone with AIDS wants to give it to someone else? I consider myself very lucky. Something that most of us have never asked for. Not all of us are lucky enough to be as clean or as pure as you.. And it is bud. Because people think of it as a life threatening disease.

How about you do yourself a favor and try and help out your friend who is really having some seriously bad outbreaks by taking him or her out and try and get them to meet someone as sweet and as charming as yourself. Then take a look and see how people stigmatize him or her. Then feel their pain as if you were them.. You have given me a ray of hope. Hi Ella, thank you so much for sharing this post. It has given me a better perspective on having transmitted this STI. Just thank you for sharing your struggle. You made me feel so much better. And then I feel absolutely sick and horrible that I have it.

Again, thank you for sharing, thank you for this. Thank you for posting this article. She only saw the negatives and downfalls. It made me feel like a worthless piece of shit and it Fucking ruined my day.

Anyways, say it how you mean it. Recently diagnosed and going through every emotion. This left me speechless and also so empowered. Now, oh how the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. I cried reading it. I felt like a part of me died with this diagnosis. I have to pretend to not be in constant excruciating pain. I have come to find out that on the contrary I have never felt more loved in my entire life.

Pointless rant aside thank you for your words, you make me feel normal. For example, what if sexual pleasure and intimacy is explored at a level of comfort for both partners as the two people get to know each other emotionally and romantically and take the measure of their compatibility? For example, oral sex for both partners works for both partners in the early stages of a relationship, and this becomes one of the components of trust that will lead to intercourse.

Or the seronegative partner wants to engage in intercourse less often at first until they come to trust their partner more fully in all areas of their relationship and increase the level of intimacy. There are many trust and intimacy issues that evolve: Obviously this depends on the expectations of the two people concerned, but I am surprised that a middle ground a temporary and ramping up middle ground is not discussed more generally unless I am missing it, which, of course, is possible.

I just wonder if you think that may have also affected your experiences post herpes diagnosis. I really needed to hear this. I know I have. I never even knew I had it until I got tested out of state after a casual encounter; there was no noticeable breakout to alert me. This has given me a whole new perspective, as well as talking points. I loved reading this. There are so many great things about you. Why would that be a dealbreaker?

He had a few questions the first time. And he adores me as a whole!

Dating With Herpes: How to Tell Your Partner - Health

Thanks for what you do! What you are doing for people with herpes and STDs in general is so necessary! The stigma is real, and for no reason! I feel more comfortable telling people and then educating them on the subject. I am still not as upfront as I would like to be about it. I think your openness is incredible and ideal! But I am actively working towards it. Thank you ella for being so strong and upfront. I just recently got g herpes and have had a hard time until reading your blog. Do you have any other way to keep contact?

Id love to chat about experiences. Hi John, glad my blog has helped! I make darned sure that if I am interested in someone that they know right up front about my status. People are afraid of chronic illnesses until they understand that you CAN live with them successfully and you CAN keep your partners very safe while having a great relationship. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story, MB. You sound like a badass, and that confidence is what must make you such a great partner.

Reblogged this on syrens. Herpes virii can be shed at any time, even when there is no outbreak. Asymptomatic viral shedding is a real thing, and I know that someone with herpes can theoretically transmit at any time. But to be clear: Small typo, I think? I tell people all the time: This not only goes for sexual relationships, but friendships as well….

Click here to donate to my sanity fund. Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window. This is a really thoughtful comment. Thank you for your perspective. I hear the humanization here. Thanks again for sharing. How do I talk about herpes? Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. I'm not religious at all, I'd describe myself as an atheist, but when aged 21 I started getting sores around my penis, I must have prayed 50 times a day that it would be something other than herpes.

I felt such shame and I think that's due to the fact no one seems to talk about it. This form generally appears as cold sores around your mouth but it can be passed to your genitals through skin on skin contact which is becoming a more common way of contracting genital herpes. Before I was officially diagnosed, I googled my symptoms and scared myself silly.

Herpes Dating Tips – Herpes Support Groups – Herpes Social Groups – Herpes Help

Based on my internet research I diagnosed myself with herpes - and reading articles and forums full of false information made me feel like it was the end of my life as I knew it. I basically read that it was incurable and could result in regular flare-ups. This made me think that nobody would ever want to date or sleep with me again. I'd struggle to get to sleep after compulsively reading articles online, then I'd jolt awake early in the morning, panicking.

At the time I thought it was an insect bite, but it stayed for a couple of weeks and I realised that the small red mark was something else. So then I thought it might be an allergic reaction to a new fabric softener.

How to Live and Date with Herpes

After a few weeks, I went to my GP who said she thought it might be herpes. My GP referred me to a sexual health clinic in September and I got tested the same month. They swabbed the sore and sent it off for testing, and my results came back positive. I crumpled into a heap on the floor.


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I got a text message from the doctor and was told after I called that I had herpes and I had to contact all my sexual partners. That was pretty much it.