Being Young and Out of Love: Part 6

When the guy you are casually sleeping with pulls out a condom in accordance to your rule about him using a condom if he has sex with another girl, it ruins the mood a little. For me, not enough to stop, but enough to cringe when he isn't looking and take a little longer to get into the swing of things.

That being said, when the guy you are sleeping with has the decency to abide by your request when he hasn't told you that he has slept with another girl does also light a little something in you. A little flare of trust.

This is something I really want to point out before getting into the meat of this mess that ensued. Hershey was great about this request, he used a condom each time we had sex (our usual two in the evening, one in the morning), he didn't have to because I would have been none the wiser but he did and that's commendable. It's sad that I feel the need to praise a guy for doing what I asked but I know that not all guys are great guys and some would have taken advantage of their sex partner in that way. I just really wanted to highlight that.

Cause then it gets messy.

Hershey and I had sex on a Tuesday, I got a text from him complaining about dick pain on a Wednesday, and another stating he probably had an STI on a Thursday. Basically, I was thrown for a loop and found myself being treated, not tested, for chlamydia and gonorrhea on Friday. This all would have been fine and dandy cause he used a condom with me, he just hadn't with her... and I had just been treated for the two most common fluid transmitted STIs. Except a week later, he wasn't diagnosed with a fluid transmitted STI... He had herpes.

Now, luckily, he was prepared for this answer, in fact he was expecting it. So by the time his speculation was confirmed it had already been accepted. And because he was expecting it, I had been researching it. Over the two days prior to his diagnosis, I went wild. I Googled everything I could find, comparing sources and facts to make sure that I wasn't misinforming myself by following one person's experience or site's description of the STI. The reason I went so manic is because herpes is transmitted through skin to skin contact and, although less likely, can be transmitted even when signs of an outbreak aren't present. Except in our case, they kind of were... Our first round of sex was most likely what sparked his primary outbreak.

I would be lying if I said I was super calm and collected about all of this and that I handled it with tact and grace. However, I did my absolute best not to make him feel like shit, he already did. He had contracted this permanent STI because he had sex with a girl who was probably unaware that she even had it. He felt like shit because he had exposed me to it. I didn't need to turn around and spout the stigma that society places on people with HSV-2 because that wasn't going to change anything... getting angry and upset at him wasn't going to put me any less at risk. But I was also upfront with him, I told him if I didn't have it that the temporary nature of this casual relationship just wasn't worth a permanent change to my health, something I would have to tell every other sexual partner I had after him, and face their stigma. He was amazingly understanding and went as far to say that now, after being diagnosed, he was worried more about my health than his own.

Unfortunately, at the time of his diagnosis, I wasn't exactly somewhere where I could be tested. Rather I had to wait five more days before I got home to get myself to a clinic. It was really during those five days that I realized changes to my body that I had brushed off before and I was getting really worried about what my own diagnosis would be. That's when I found Ella Dawson and my god if you have a moment, sit down and watch her Tedx Talk about the inevitability of STIs and living with HSV-2, do it. She was the woman that made me not afraid to have herpes and the more certain I became about the fact that I did, the more okay with it I was.

Hershey and I started making jokes about it.

"Surprise her this holiday season with the gift of herpes."

"Why give her Hersheys when you can give her herpes?"

We normalized. Nothing really changed. The world didn't end and because it's HSV-2 I have the option to disclose that to who I wish because no one is getting near my bits unless I've already told them... My parents don't need to know unless I really want to tell them, I can pick and choose the friends I want to inform, or if I want, like Ella Dawson, I can tell every last person I cross paths with.

I find the stigma with herpes confusing... Why do we make jokes about dirty dicks and polluted pussies that have been infected with herpes but don't bat an eye at a cold sore. I struggled to get my diagnosis, I had to fight for a blood test because I didn't have actual sores. While in the doctor's office, I was diagnosed with about four or five different afflictions to ignore the herpes diagnosis and symptoms that couldn't just be explained away, I received shrugs or baffled looks. When at the end of it, I requested a small dosage of an antiviral in hopes that it would help some, my practitioner called a pharmacist to help figure out dosage amount and mentioned that I was just worried about a little rash on my thigh... No I was worried about the 7 or so symptoms that I was experiencing, one of which happened to be a rash. She swabbed just about everything and I was allowed to get my blood test. Not that it mattered because I wasn't called back about any of the results, which could be good because nothing came back positive... However, my antivirals worked in clearing up my symptoms... Needless to say, I was frustrated with the whole experience, especially as it seemed that the main reason she didn't want to test me for herpes was she didn't want to diagnose me with herpes.

By the end of it all, Hershey and I decided to be sexually exclusive. Just to be safe...


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