Fess Up

young lovers kissWhat would you do if someone you were dating didn’t tell you about a potentially devastating sexually transmitted disease they had in fear that you’d reject them from the start? We live in an era where STDs are rampant – some of these are curable and many are incurable such as HPV, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. Thousands of people find themselves single, searching, and living with incurable STDs everyday. These folks could be your neighbors, colleagues, fellow churchgoers, Soul Cycle patrons, former classmates, and potentially… your future lovers.

Today there are websites that are created for matching one STD carrier to another. It’s a smart way to date and not have to worry about a) having to disclose a dark secret about your personal life to someone who won’t understand and b) worrying about transmitting anything since you both might very well have the same STD (especially if you meet through sites like h-date.com). These sites create a community of like-minded people to feel normal again, sexy, desirable, supported, and safe.

Although there appear to be a lot of choices for meeting other educated professional men and women who share one’s same STD, many people opt-out of these community sites in favor of mainstream sites and apps like Match, Hinge, Tinder, and jDate. In theory there isn’t anything wrong with someone with an STD enjoying the benefits of these various sites/apps, or of working with a matchmaker, assuming they practice full disclosure with whomever they meet.

There is a lot of shame and regret involved with having an STD and a lot of folks never know the “right time” to communicate that they have contracted something awhile back. I know someone very well who met a seemingly amazing guy on one of these apps out there. He was the perfect on paper prototypical guy many girls would swoon over: Ivy League educated, founder/CEO resume, well-rounded, cute, affable, and well…she felt he could be “the one.” They enjoyed dinners out, laughed a lot, cooked together, and she even met some of his family members.

A red flag arose when he wanted to go exclusive early on. It seemed too good to be true to her- especially after so many misses happening with non-committal guys. He came on really strong, flowers on date two, lots of cuddling, consistent communication, wanting to see her, and what really felt like old-world courtship. Since she felt he could be too good to be true, she really didn’t want to mess things up with sex too soon. He didn’t pressure her, in fact, after many dates they didn’t even “go there.” She wanted to wait till she was really ready and sure that everything felt right.

About two months into dating pretty exclusively, he pulled out of nowhere a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on her. You know how someone can have a quick shift in personality and go from chill and fun one second to bizarre and distant the next? That’s precisely what he did to her. She called him out on it asking what was wrong. He grew increasingly weird that weekend afternoon and said that it wasn’t working between them. Wasn’t working, she thought? What on earth? Where’d he pull that crap from? They had just had a fantastic lunch with his family, held hands, kissed, and laughed about some silly inside joke.

She knew there was more to it and he was holding something back. Was it an ex? Was he not the guy he represented himself as online? Sadly it was the latter. After tears shed and arguing back and forth, he admitted that he was afraid to tell her that he has a serious STD and THAT was the reason he wanted to break-up. She couldn’t believe he had never disclosed that upfront. Every thought raced into her mind- could she have contracted the STD, what are the symptoms, why didn’t he tell her sooner, where are all the honest men out there…..

The saving grace was that they had never slept together nor been intimate in any way. She was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and move on with her life in that regard. What bothered her beyond the momentary STD scare was the fact that yet another “douche bag” of a guy failed to be honest and upfront about something so serious.

A lesson here is that the devil really is in the details when you’re our there dating on your own. Although someone could appear dreamy and like a total Romeo online, tread extremely cautiously until you have fully gotten to know that person. A lot of people withhold life-threatening information in fear of rejection or simply hoping they don’t have to have the talk as it is “so heavy” and there is “never a good time.”

Be smart, wise, prudent, protective, and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to have the talk and be the first one to ask your partner if they have had an STD screening or an HIV test, and when they had their last test. If you’re getting serious and thinking about having sex, the only right way is to openly communicate with your partner and then go get tested together. I emphasize going together as some people say they will but never do.

There is never a right time to bring up if you have an STD or suspect you might. Bring it up early on (think date two or three time frame). If your date is supportive, awesome! There are lots of ways to have safe sex together without having to worry. If your date closes the loop from getting to know you further, I’m pretty sure they will be thankful you saved everyone time, energy, potential heartbreak or more by being upfront early on.

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