You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Q: I am a young, successful and happy woman. My life is almost perfect, except I am single. I do hope to find someone for me, but, emotionally, I am stuck. I was in a platonic friendship with a guy for 10 years. When we were both single, he said he really wanted to try and see if we could translate our friendship into something romantic. We dated and eventually had sex. A few days after the sex he told me he had herpes. I prayed on it and determined it was something I could not deal with. Two weeks later I found out I was infected although we did use protection.
I was so ashamed and upset I didn't tell him until about two years later. Dating wise, I sunk into a hole. Because of the incident, I refused to date him. He was dishonest because he knew all along. Now, I am single, and he is married, and I am trying to figure out how to move on. I feel truly broken. I was always very cautious with my partners. I never slept around. I can count my sexual partners on one hand, and I am 35.
I know it could be worse, but it will still be hard, and I just don't know if I am over the shame and embarrassment. How do I tell a significant other? Absolutely no one knows. Help. I don't want to give up on love, but I don't know how to move on from this. -- Anonymous
A: Thanks for opening up and sharing because it takes a lot of courage to deal with these issues. I am sure you had to be livid once you found out someone you trusted had given you herpes. But as you stated, it could be worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 6 people have been diagnosed with genital herpes. So, while this information may not change anything, it can be comforting to know that you are definitely not alone.
I understand one of your greatest fears may be the reaction you will get after you share this information with someone new. Believe me, there are plenty of great men that will be willing to look past this and see you for who you truly are. Eventually, you will find that person. The right man will allow you to be comfortable enough to let your guard down and even consider becoming sexually intimate with you. Once you have found that person, it is vitally important that your main focus be on building the foundation of your relationship with honesty, respect and friendship. When that foundation is built and you are confident you are heading toward a serious commitment, then it is time to talk and share intimate information.
I would suggest you sit down and have a face-to-face conversation and explain your situation. If you are not sure where the relationship is going, and you are not planning on becoming sexually involved with that person, why share the information? There is no need to share such personal information with a person that may not be around long enough for it to really matter. Just because you have herpes, you don’t have to wear a T-shirt saying you have an STD when you first meet someone.
However, it is crucial that you inform a person of your situation before becoming intimate. This will give them a chance to decide if they want to become sexually involved with you or not. If they choose not to, understand it is their choice and their decision should not determine your self-worth. Don’t spend too much time worrying about whether or not someone will accept your situation. What’s important is that you are comfortable in your own skin. You would be surprised to learn just how many men may not only accept your situation, but who will also admire your honesty, integrity and courage. Stay strong. – Dr. Sherry
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