You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel 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...
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I am 36 and contracted a sexual transmitted disease (herpes) when I was 19 years old from a guy I was in a 2 year relationship with. Needless to say I was devastated and didn't date for years after. I tried to stay in the relationship because I didn't think anyone would accept me with my condition. I even had sex without telling the other individual (which makes me even more ashamed and feel less than nothing and will never do that again-can't take the guilt or fear). When I turned 30, I began a relationship and we ended up having a child together. He didn't find out in the way I would like and he did not contract the disease. When that wasn't working out, I was scared to leave because he would always threaten to expose my secret to people we knew and tell me no one was going to accept me, which is something I believed on my own anyway. After overcoming the manipulation, I decided to leave him. Now, I'm trying to date but every time I get close to a man, I end up ending whatever relationship we had or talk myself out of really liking him. My question to you Dr. Sherry is (1) How/when do I overcome this fear to tell a man about my situation? and (2) How long into the relationship do I tell someone (assuming no sex is involved)?
Don't want to die alone
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You have been a prisoner in your own mind since the age of 19. You have lived with fear, shame, embarrassment, and guilt unnecessarily. Having herpes or any other sexually transmitted diseases is not a life sentence. It is all treatable and more common than you may think. It is the fear and the stigma of having a STD that prevents people from talking about it and seeking help. It is very important to seek help and to understand your body to know when you are going to have an outbreak. You must be very honest and tell your potential partner that you have herpes. I do not suggest you share this on your first date. But, it should be shared when it seems that the relationship may be moving forward and definitely before you become intimate. They have a right to know this information before sex becomes a part of the relationship. It is clearly their choice to move forward or to end the relationship at that point. Some people will understand, accept it and continue. Others will end the relationship in anger or with other feelings. You must be willing to accept their decision. However, you do not have to accept their crap or bullsh*--! Do not allow others to put you down and abuse you. Most of all, don't do that to yourself. Others will treat and respond to you the way you allow them to. It is important to embrace and deal with the reality that you have herpes and life goes on with or without the person you would like to be your mate. I recommend that you seek individual therapy to help process and let go of many of the negative feelings and beliefs regarding having herpes. I also recommend that you seek a medical doctor to receive solid treatment and information about herpes. Free yourself from your mental prison and move on with life! —Dr. Sherry
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