Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Rethinking My Love

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are few things I really believe in and hold to be true.  I don’t believe in god, organized religion, monogamy (although I have plenty of respect for people who do believe in those things and would hope that you all – the majority – could find it in your hearts to respect me, as well).

There are a few things I do believe in. One is that questions are more important than answers.  The other is that I will always and forever New York City.  Some of my earliest and best memories are of spending time in Manhattan with my family and of dreaming of what my life would be like when I grew up and got to live here (a bit of New York City flavor for non-NYers, if you are from a part of the city other than Manhattan, you are not from “the city” and every trip into Manhattan is going into “the city”).

However, recently I heard something that has me rethinking my love for .  Did you know that 26% of New Yorkers are infected with herpes?  That’s significantly higher than the national average of 19%.

I don’t know how I didn’t know this.  The data was published in the NYTimes over a year ago, which means the numbers are probably even higher now (you know how these things spread).  And there is no cure for herpes.  So the chances of a SINgleGIRL like myself having an intimate relationship with a guy who has herpes is pretty high.  And people wonder why I’m fanatical about condom usage?

So anyway, I was joking before about rethinking my love for NYC.  Love isn’t brains and New York is in my blood.  I can rethink it all I want, but I’m not going anywhere.  Truth is, I don’t think I’d run from a guy who had herpes.  Not if I really, really liked him.  Which I think puts me in that minority, again. I say this because I’ve read “drug and disease free” on a lot of people’s lists of dealbreakers.  So I’m guessing they’re including herpes.

Which leads us to this week’s question:  Would you have a relationship/sexual relationship with someone who had herpes, or is that a dealbreaker for you?

  • No. I just couldn’t do it. (41 votes)
  • Yes. It’s not life-threatening. What’s the big deal? (14 votes)
  • Maybe. It depends on how long we knew each other/how much I trusted and loved the person. (56 votes)
  • Other. Please explain in the comments. (7 votes)

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14 to “Rethinking My Love”

  1. Cute~Ella says:

    I lean towards no on that one more than maybe…but I would imagine if there was someone I really and I mean REALLY cared about or wanted to be with, we’d find a way to make it work. I think.

  2. dmplgrl says:

    Approximately 1 in 4 people have genital herpes and up to 1 million new infections are transmitted each year. The number of people who have the virus period is most likely much higher than that.

    What most people don’t realize is that a cold sore is also herpes – and the two forms ARE transferrable.

    ie – if someone who has EVER in their life had a cold sore gives you oral sex, they can pass it on to you in the form of genital herpes and vice verse.

    So even if you wrap it up and are super careful and have sex with only people who don’t have genital herpes – chances are – they’ve at one time or another had a cold sore (fever blister) and gone down on you so you’re still just as at risk.

  3. TerrySimpson says:

    The transmission of a virus is permanent, and like other virus – may be oncogenic (cancer causing). While the odds are high in NYC- they are still high in the rest of the country. Having worked with HSV (as a virologist – grad school) – it is clear that the future potential for cancer from that is real. It is more than a recurring, bothersome rash. And when it comes “do I really like her (him in some cases)” – this is a discussion that happens up front – not after the fact. I can still like someone and not sleep with them- but HSV is real and forever – so no chances here.

  4. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles says:

    I had no idea that the rate of herpes infection in the city was higher than the national average! Guess if I ever start dating again it’s guys from the ‘burbs for me! :)

    I feel bad to say it because I’m sure there are plenty of otherwise wonderful guys who have herpes, but I couldn’t bring myself to date someone who had it. Although condoms help prevent transmission, they’re not foolproof. The virus is passed through skin-to-skin contact, and there are places condoms obviously don’t cover. So it’s risky even with a condom, and, frankly, I’d rather not have to use condoms for the rest of my life with a long-term partner.

  5. pups4me says:

    I’m really surprised to read the negative comments here, as face it people, it is very likely you have already dated/mated/been in a relationship with someone that has herpes. Many people don’t know they have the virus, and many don’t have symptoms, so they are unknowingly passing it on to others. It’s even possible that YOU have herpes and don’t even know it. A blood test is the only way to know for sure.
    Of course there are those who know they have it and choose not to tell their partners, which is a terrible thing to do, and I don’t have anything good to say about those people.
    However, in this day and age, I think it’s necessary to have an open mind when it comes to anything that other people have experienced and dealt with before point blank saying “no thanks”.
    Oh, and by the way, I don’t live in NYC or anywhere close to it…I’m in the midwest and I have an open mind.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I live in Toronto. I want to give a little personal background so pardon the length: I’ve had herpes for about 8 yrs and found out when I was 32ish. I do not know who I got it from or how (oral? intercourse?). At the time, I had only had approx. 6 partners and in general, was very safe even in longterm relationships. I haven’t had an outbreak in 6 years. Since I found out I have had 4 boyfriends (anywhere from 4mo to 4yrs). I have told all of them although I waited until we had been dating for 1-2 months, which means we didn’t have sex for that time. This was difficult but I wanted us to connect before I told them. We would fool around and they got lots of oral! So far it’s been a positive experience although I do appreciate that they were taking a risk (even with condoms). I think that if the shoe was on the other foot, I would certainly consider being with someone who had herpes if I felt that we had long term potential. I do miss the opportunity to have one nite stands but in relation to the real tragedies of our world, missing out on booty calls ain’t a big deal :)
    I have done a lot of reading about herpes and have never heard about the risk for cancer…not that I don’t believe the previous Comment, however, I do find that info interesting and I do wonder if the chances of me getting cancer from this is less than the likely hood of getting cancer from my face cream or second hand smoke or sunlight etc. but I will check it out. I’m quite certain that the % is higher than 1 in 4 and eventually whether you have it or not will likely be a minor issue. Anyway, that’s my 2cents worth. Play safe peeps :)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m currently seeing someone with herpes and IMO it’s not a big deal. She’s been honest about it from the get-go. I researched it and the basic rule of thumb is, if s/he’s not having an outbreak, you’re safe.

    I was already somewhat educated about it when she told me because Dan Savage has talked about it on his podcast.

    And ditto what the commenter said above about oral sex. My partner got it via oral sex performed on her. The performer had a cold soar.

  8. Erotic Music says:

    Wow, that percentage is a lot higher than I would have originally thought.

  9. AF says:

    What a good post! Very well put and there’s some useful, thought provoking information there too.

    The comment from TerrySimpson is very natural from a virologist and certainly valid. However, it appears that flu and even the common cold are also viruses (and who hasn’t had one of those?) The link between viruses and cancer is like many other things (including smoking). Cancer is not as far as most research suggests something we catch – it’s something we have – all of us! Certain viruses can be a possible trigger (or a part of the trigger) as is almost everything else in life that we eat, drink, do and maybe even think. Cancer is a failure in the body’s systems and when a proper cure is finally found (rather than just treating the individual lump involved), it will come from or provide a eureka moment in our understanding of the human body.

    So, my view is, sure, it’s not nice and you should be concerned about it – a bit – but if you spend all your time worrying about what could happen to you, it won’t happen because you’ll have died of a heart attack or a stroke brought on by the worry itself.

    In my opinion it’s probably better to REALLY enjoy one day of life than be bored rigid and scared stiff for a hundred years.

  10. Dating Advice (Almost) Daily says:

    If I met a man with the right qualities (honesty, sense of humor, kindness, ambition, etc.) to whom I was attracted, I’d be crazy to discard him because he had herpes.

    According to my OB/GYN, even in the suburban area where I live one out of five people has been diagnosed with it (and, she says, an additional percentage is walking around completely unaware they’re carrying the virus). I asked her about the prevalence of herpes after a pharm rep showed up in the waiting room with a shopping cart filled to the brim with herpes med samples.

    She also said that many people who once had painful breakouts have stopped having them (she attributed this to diet and vitamin supplementation — particularly l-Lysine), and that she’d rather have herpes than something else, meaning life-threatening illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t rule out dating someone because they had herpes… here’s my story:

    I married my high school sweetheart. We were together for 9 years. I was 100% faithful. My OBGYN gave me a Gardisal shot. One year later my husband had an affair & gave me HPV. I have absolutly NO SYMPTOMS. I’m only aware of the virus due to abnormal paps. I will never have any outward symptoms, but my risk of cervical cancer in my 40’s/50’s is much higher due to the virus. My OBGYN has told my that my body will probably clear the virus in 2-3 years.

    Until my body clears the virus, I’m contagious…even though I have no symptoms.

    The point of my story is that anyone can have the virus & have no idea they’re spreading it. The best thing to do is ASSUME EVERYONE HAS IT. Since I assume everyone has it, I take the same precautions for everyone.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never had a one night stand in my life. I’ve never had sex without a condom. I was a virgin until my twenties and have only slept with two men, both while in a committed relationship. The first was a virgin as well and the second had only slept with four women. A lot of this decision, had to to do with societal stigmas and the fear of getting pregnant or contracting an STD. I found out about six months ago that lover #2 had given me HPV, and now I have genital warts. He has never had a symptom, and has never noticed a symptom on any of the women he has slept with. Many people who have this strain of HPV, will not develop warts and will never know they have it. I spent my life disgusted by people with diseases like this and now I am one of them. If I learned anything from this experience, it’s that the line between “us” and “them” is blurrier than you can even imagine…so please…approach this topic with the compassion I never had and hopefully you’ll never have to find out what the other side is like the hard way…

  13. Hypersingle says:

    One established cancer risk for HSV-2 (genital herpes) is a concurrent infection with HPV (human papilloma virus/genital warts) in women. Most cervical cancers are associated with certain strains of HPV. HPV and HSV-2 together increase the cervical cancer rate about 2.5 times. No cure so far for HSV, and once infected, you will shed the virus with/without symptoms for life. So infecting a partner can occur with/without a visible rash and with/without condoms, although condoms decrease the risk. Sadly, people frequently lie about STD status (singles, doubles, triples, everyone). HSV can rarely cause infections in vaginally delivered newborn babies. HSV-1 (oral herpes/cold sores) can infect genitals with oral-genital contact, so oral sex with condoms/dental dams would be the safer but less pleasurable option. HSV genital rashes can be quite painful depending on location. HSV antibody blood tests can determine past or recent infection unless VERY recent infection occured. Sadly, if you have herpes and you are honest with your partners, people will frequently say no. Thus human nature adaptation = lie about it. There are dating websites catering to people with herpes. A cure for Herpes in the medium term seems possible. Ultimately, the only really safe sex is sex with yourself (except for tendinitis or sex toy mishaps) and what kind of life would that be? Apologies to all purposefully celibate and frustrated daters.

  14. Simone Grant says:

    -Wow. THANK YOU everyone for chiming in. Especially those of you who shared your personal experience with herpes and/or provided us with medical information. I’m not going to pretend to know anything more than anyone else. For those of you who read the comments and are still confused, I suggest spending some time on the nih site and surfing through their links.