Herpes Giving The Talk

Giving the talk about herpes isn’t always easy but you’ll be glad you did

How to tell someone you have herpes or HPV?  So, you start dating someone and you look for a way to tell them about your herpes or HPV.  In our community, this is simply known as  “The Talk.”  Is it awkward and stressful?  Of course it is!  We are not going to try to sugar coat it.  Will it be the most difficult thing you ever do?  No, not by a long shot.  It’s not the actual talk that causes the most stress, it is the buildup of anticipation beforehand that gets most people.

Say that you are talking to someone or just started dating and things are going well, really well.  This is the perfect one for you and everything, now what?  Here is where the awkwardness comes in aka “The Talk.”  As things progress, you are eventually going to have to tell that person about your special circumstance.  It is completely natural to totally freak out and think, “OMG!  They are not only going to reject me but then they tell all my friends, too!”  Go ahead, grab that paper bag and breathe slowly into it but continue reading!

There are endless ways on how to actually tell someone.  You have to just figure out what you are comfortable with.  If you do a Google search for Herpes and “The Talk,” you will see all kinds of ways to do it.  Some are good and others are just downright strange.  Telling someone over dinner is probably preferred over a dark, quiet room and handing them pamphlets and flow charts while putting on a PowerPoint presentation.

Tips on giving the talk:

Like opening that old container in your refrigerator , looking to see what you just ran over or being forced to see a Julia Roberts movie, you have to prepare yourself.  It’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.

Sell yourself, not the herpes – When you do find yourself in a mutual attraction situation, think, “Of course they want to date me! I am smart, good-looking and even funny.  I have got it going on! Who can blame them?”  Keep this in mind as you are telling them.  You are selling yourself, not the herpes.

There are three possible outcomes – After giving the talk, there are really only 3 possible outcomes:

  • They say no – Rejection does happen.  Besides, there are no guarantees that things would have worked out, anyway.
  • They say yes – They are willing to look past your herpes and want to see where things go.
  • They say – “I have it too!” While this one is in the minority, it is happening more and more.  We have already heard of successful couples that have had this happen.

Either way, 2 out of 3 is pretty good odds so stay positive!

Don’t get discouraged – Not everybody is going to be open to the possibility of getting herpes.  It is completely normal.  It is not YOU they are rejecting, it is herpes.  While unsettling as this may be, put yourself in the same situation and ask yourself if you would put yourself at risk.  While you want them to be understanding, you will as well.

Why you need to give the talk:

You have the potential to affect another person for the rest of their lives.  You can also affect any of their future partners as well.  For most, getting a STD like herpes or HPV can be devastating.  You do not want that on your conscience.

You are taking away their choice.  Some people get herpes from an informed choice.  They enter into a relationship with an infected partner and knew the risks.  If you are like most, you discovered your herpes via a doctor or an outbreak.  You, most likely, got it from a dishonest partner or a partner that did not know they had herpes.  Medical professionals estimate that 1 out of 5 people have herpes and up to 80% don’t know they have it.  Either way, you did not get the choice to get herpes.  Don’t take that choice away from somebody else.

Besides the moral and ethical reasons of disclosing your herpes, there is another that has been gaining popularity.  That reason is a lawsuit.  Yes, people are not only suing partners for giving them herpes but they are winning settlements.

What to say:

This is the hardest part.  How do you tell someone that you have herpes?

Well, luckily for you, commercials are making it easier!  Have you ever been watching TV with friends and the Valtrex commercial comes on?  As you try to make yourself as small as possible, the comments never seem to get old. “Hey Frank! Your commercial is on again!” Or the worst, “Ewww, that is just gross!  I would NEVER date anybody with herpes!”

When giving the talk, use that popularity to your advantage!  When the time is right, find a way to fit in “Look, I think you are a great person but before this goes any further, I will need to get my Valtrex prescription filled.”  When you get that confused look, say, “You know that commercial.  The Valtrex one that explains how 1 out of 5 people has herpes?  Well, I am that 1 out of the 5.”  Then wait for the long pause…they will probably ask questions.

Of course, that is just one way to tell somebody.  Our fiends over at datingwithherpes.org also have other great suggestions.

After a night of Beer Pong, a few shots on $1 pitcher night, crawling into bed and telling someone you have herpes right before sex (or they pass out) does not count as giving them the talk.  There are two points that you want to convey.  First, they need to know and understand that you have herpes.  Secondly, they need to know that they are still at risk.  Being on suppressive therapy and wearing condoms can greatly REDUCE the risk but there are no guarantees.

For the small percentage of you that are reading this and are wondering…yes, you need to tell every partner.  Just using a condom and wishing for the best will not cut it.

One of the best things about HWerks is that you don’t have to give the talk because everybody inside already has HSV and or HPV!  We love to hear the successful talks but are also here for the ones that don’t go so well.



  1. Helpmeplease 11 years ago

    Ive been with my partner for a year, i have both herpes and hpv. I have yet to tell him…he knows i tAke valtrex almost daily but believes its for cold sores. I dont know how to tell him…i dont want to lose him..

  2. a 10 years ago

    Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this website on a regular basis, this web page is truly
    good and the users are in fact sharing pleasant thoughts.

  3. Halston 10 years ago

    I actual wrote a letter that explained the situation and the risks. When the time was right (as if there is a right time), I give him the letter and say Im going to go upstairs and need you to read this.” If you can’t handle what it says please feel free to leave. We don’t have to talk about it. I understand.” This gives me space to grieve if necessary and him the safe space to process. It’s been positive although emotion so far.

  4. Abbey 9 years ago

    I got diagnosed with hsv 2 the day before thanksgiving 2014. Great timing right? Since then, I have been learning to accept it and forgive the guy who gave it to me. I have not been with anyone else since then. I have been talking and seeing a new guy the past month. Things are starting to move in the direction of a relationship and I am just freaking out on a daily basis about telling him about my virus. He’s the nicest person I’ve ever talked to and I’m so scared of getting rejected. I’m just……stuck. I don’t know what to do. It is very comforting to know I’m not the only one out there who is going through this but damn….I wish I could take back so much. But I am taking everything one day at a time and learning to realize that if he’s the right one for me, he will understand.

  5. H 9 years ago

    Hi everyone, I found out I have Herpes V2 from a diagnosis about 2 weeks ago atafter I had my first noticeable outbreak. Makes me question the “UTI” I thought I had. Anyways, I’ve been talking to someone for a few months shy of a year, and we really seem to like each other. Anyways, we’ve started talking about being intimate and I want to tell him about the virus I have before it goes any further. Preferably in the next 48 hours. Anyone have some good advice on how to inform a partner that worked positively for them?

  6. Laura 9 years ago

    So about a week ago I got pretty sick. Horrible body aches, chills, a low grade fever, bad pelvic/lower back pain that also sent shooting pains throughout my entire body from the toes to the neck. Not to mention I had horrible headaches. I noticed that Saturday I developed what I thought was “Ingrown hairs” on my inner labia and a few on both sides of my inner thighs. I shave all the time so I didn’t think much in to it until I started the infamous “Googling” It hurt so bad, it burned every time I went to the bathroom. I suffer from “Recurrant UTI’S” so obviously that was my first thought. This lasted about 4-5 days literally bed ridden the whole time. I made a doctors appt. for that following Monday which would have been yesterday. I had my mom go with me for moral support of course! Well, my worst nightmare came true. Not even a 2 minute glance before she mentioned I contracted herpes. I cried right then and there on the table, my mom squeezing my hand and just telling me over and over that she loved me. I’m still waited to get the lab results on what type. I still have to notify my ex partner and I know he gave it to me because I had a clean test run of everything including the HPV virus. I still am deciding when and exactly how I’m going to tell him as I saw him two weeks ago and contracted HPV within this week and he was the only one I’ve been with especially intimately. Not only am I stressing about notifying him and future partners but I’m scared to even tell my dad. I’m still in such utter shock and I can’t even process the fact that I now have to deal with this disease for the rest of my life. It’s so devastating. If they’re is anyone out there that is going through the same scenario and can give me any advice or information about this, please don’t hesitate to reply back to me. I feel so gross right now and I was the kind of person that always made sure I was healthy and always had routine tests and screenings. This is just so heartbreaking for not only myself but for everyone around me that I love. I don’t have many friends so if there’s anyone with a Facebook account don’t hesitate to look me up. I can always use a friend especially someone going through the same thing I am.
    -Thanks guys! Stay strong <3

  7. K 8 years ago

    I met the love of my life! At least that was MY feelings talking. Our first date, he opened up about his health history-allergies developed, high blood pressure, taking meds for it, but nothing about an STD. I guess it was my turn, and I could not find the courage to admit about my life with herpes. I felt ashamed, scared, and dirty. All of a sudden we were planning our futures together. After our date, he hugged me and I kissed him on the lips. We had our second date and we lost control and it ended up in oral sex. We really enjoyed each other. The next day, the guilt was to unbearable! I told him that I had herpes!!! I did not want to hurt him. I contracted herpes from my ex-husband. The new love of my life met me 10 to 11 years later, only to have him walk away because I could not be honest and say I have herpes.

  8. Dex 8 years ago

    Hi K!

    Telling someone and being honest is not always easy but the guilt is the killer part. Who knows, he may change his mind and give it another shot! If not, there are plenty of guys out there looking for a great woman.

  9. Melissa 7 years ago

    I was exposed to herpes by an unfaithful partner to this day doesn’t believe he has it. And I don’t know if he was ever tested after I informed him.

    After I learned I had herpes I felt so ashamed, and unworthy. But my friends were there for me. It helps to have people in your corner.

    I just started seeing this guy and he was the first one I’ve wanted to get closer with since I learned of my situation. I told him what he wanted to know and told him I completely understand if he wanted to walk away. I also told him that even though there’s a risk I would lose him I didn’t want to be THAT person but I wanted to be honest.

    He responded with kindness and said thank you for being up front and being honest. He saw me later that day and kissed me. He didn’t treat me any different. It’s was a weight lifted if my shoulders and to know that a trust was made.

    Overall he feels I’m worth the risk and I hope we make it.

    • Dex 7 years ago

      Hi Melissa!

      Thanks for writing. That is awesome! We love hearing stories like yours and others do, too. Keep us updated!

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