Gettin' Back on the Horse
November 8, 2021
For the first couple months or so after my diagnosis, I was just sick about the fact sex had gotten me into this mess and even thinking about ever having sex again made me sick to my stomach. Well, let's see, two months and three weeks post diagnosis, it doesn't make me sick to my stomach anymore, but how and when it's ever going to happen is something I just put off thinking about. But I'm not swearing it off or anything. Good lord. Wouldn't that be naïve.
I did finally masturbate. So I'm glad I got back on that horse. Or pony as it were... For that first couple months, I didn't think I deserved to have an orgasm. Well, it wasn't quite that exactly. Maybe I was so closely linking the incredibly good things about sex with this nasty thing I now have to deal with, I just didn't want to remember how good an orgasm feels. So ya, I did me. But my vibrator is still not getting near the action he's used to... Alas...
So that's some of the illogical and flat out wrong stuff I was thinking. A lot of self-slut-shaming was swirling around inside of me, where those remnants of low self-esteem I've largely conquered still invade my mind and heart upon occasion.
Although my reasoning for never wanting to have sex again and thinking I didn't deserve The Big O was all twisted up, still, I let myself feel those things, because I was grieving the fact I'd never have sex with the abandon with which I'd had sex before diagnosis. Casual sex just got a bit more complicated...
Those first few days and weeks after my diagnosis, I Googled until I carpelled myself and read everything I could and watched a lot of YouTube videos. I also joined about a hundred herpes support groups and nearly everyone newly diagnosed was feeling the way I was feeling. Everything I was reading and hearing confirmed it takes weeks, months, sometimes many months to come to terms with the diagnosis. So, what do you know. I'm NORMAL.
Disclosure seems to be a huge thing folks really struggle with. I figure I'm a ways away from having to cross that bridge, but I'm still paying close attention to what people are saying. I read an article by my Herpes Hero, Ella Dawson, How Do I Tell Someone I Have Herpes? Helpful stuff.
There's also this great video, Talking Herpes with Charles Ebel, where this totally benign appearing college professor looking dude talks about the non-significance of herpes. It's an awesome video. He also provides some tips for disclosure. (Starting at about 6:09.)
Ebel refers to a study done at Columbia University, Understanding Perceptions of Genital Herpes Disclosure, where some participants reported waited until immediately prior to sex before disclosing. Just knowing that's an option makes me happy. Smile.
In my experience, once I've matched with someone online, and we've started hot and heavy into the sexting, there's this negotiation of hookup parameters that occurs. Hookup parameters include things like do you swallow? What's your favorite position? And, of course, my insistence that condoms will be required (although that is not something I consistently enforced, much to my regret).
Sometimes that negotiation happens online before we meet, sometimes at our first meeting in the bar, where I'm sucking down lemon drops before we go to the hotel, and sometimes during foreplay at the hotel. The notion I could wait until we were literally in position to commence is a bit encouraging.
Will I ever wait that long? Probably not. I am likely disclose during the pre-meet sexting phase. But, honestly, men can be so dense. I put the fucking information in my Tinder profile! It's all right there! And I have a fucking blog for goodness sake! With a whole section on Living With HSV. Goodness me.
I'm still trying to find a good way to deal with the fact most matches don't read my entire profile. Crimoney. Are my pics that alluring? Uh.... no. I don't really like spelling it out while I'm messaging on the site because it makes me sound like I'm apologizing for having herpes, or that I'm less desirable because I have herpes. But that's because in my first few attempts at disclosure on the dating site, I did sound like I was apologizing for having herpes and I did sound like I thought I was less desirable because I have herpes. So I decided to quit that shit. BECAUSE I AM THE SHIT! Herpes schmerpes!
I do, however, feel compelled to ask if my match has read my entire profile and did their Googling as instructed. If they haven't, I usually call them stupid and unmatch. I probably shouldn't call them stupid. Stupid men can't help being stupid. God love 'em.
Of the men that did read my entire profile, and Googled or already know about herpes, I've only received kind and supportive responses.
"Oh ya, I have oral herpes. I get it," one fellow said. We then commenced a discussion about anti-virals. So that went well! Nice guy. Lives in Chicago, though, but occasionally travels to the West Coast for business. Will we have sex? I'll let you know. Smile. Wink.
"Ya, I know what HSV means," another man said. "It's no big deal. We can just use a condom." We're still in the messaging phase, not even sexting, and certainly not negotiating the terms of the hookup. Unless you consider the fact we've established we'll use condoms part of that negotiation. Actually, it is. So there ya go. First milestone achieved!
So... about getting back on the real horse... I just booked a trip to San Antonio for a shindig just for us HSV+ folks. It's over my birthday weekend in April. Will I have sex? I'll let you know. Smile. Wink.
Managing Herpes: Living and Loving With HSV, by Charles Ebel, et al.
My Herpes Hero - Ella Dawson's web site: https://elladawson.com/