Emotional infections vs. physical infections

It saddens me when I hear people say they would rather stay single than put anyone else at risk of being infected (or on the other hand, those who feel they need to stay in relationship with the partner who they got herpes from). In relationship, yes, there are STDs and physical infections that can be passed and affect the other partner. But what we consider much less are those infections that go deeper than physical, untraceable on blood tests. When is the last time someone got a blood test that came back positive for being a negative, hyper-critical person? Such emotional and psychological "infections" are just as likely to be transmitted to partners while in relationship — and can be more traumatic than a skin condition like herpes. Let’s be more fair to ourselves about all the components that go into an entire relationship — the good and the bad, the superficial and those that cut deeper.

What other non-herpes "infections" are there in relationship? Your partner can infect you with beliefs that you’re not good enough, with wounds of emotional and physical abuse, with negativity and hate, with emotional walls to shut out connection, with cheating and otherwise shattering the sacred trust of relationship. How do these stack up to herpes? Herpes is superficial in comparison. Other forms of emotional infection can reach much deeper than the skin. Yes, herpes has the tendency to pull up some deep emotions, but chances are those emotions were already there and herpes simply acted as the catalyst to resurface them.

So on the “positive” side of relationship, you can be permeated by just the opposite of all the above: Your partner can treat you in such a way that you feel whole and beautiful, giving you emotional and physical acceptance and appreciation, sharing optimism and love, sharing emotional freedom and connection. And you can share all of these in relationship — despite having herpes.

Chances are that such a heart that would rather stay alone than risk infecting others is the very thing that is central to healthy relationships — herpes or not. Don’t hold your heart back because of herpes. It’s not fair to that special someone who deserves it.

Do a self-diagnosis of your heart. See, it’s easy for us to downplay our worth when it comes to something like herpes, something with a definitive diagnosis and societal stigma … but how do we diagnose something that’s not physical — like positive traits in relationship? How do we get a blood test that says “You’re an amazingly loving and thoughtful person”? Let’s work on that. I bet your diagnosis would come up with deep love, caring, respect, trust, compassion, and all these beautiful things that you have to offer in a relationship. Then we can prove to ourselves that despite herpes, a relationship is worth the risk to share our heart with someone who deserves and cherishes it.

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