"You're doing everything you can to keep your partner safe, and there's still going to be a small percentage of risk."
When considering the possibility of transmitting herpes to a partner, the default frame people tend to come from is fear. Fear then gives way to paranoia. You get in your head around something that is inherently experienced in the body: Intimacy. Intimacy is about feeling connected to your vulnerability; and when you feel paranoid, vulnerability goes poof. And intimacy vanishes. So the switch is this: from paranoid to being careful (full of care). That shifts you from your head to your heart. You want to protect your partner, and you're doing everything you can to keep them safe. But we often forget the many other risks we take on when sex is involved (pregnancy, betrayal, emotional manipulations, etc.). If you zoom out, there are so many risks in all of life that we take on yet don't even consider. There's always going to be risks in life, even if you're being careful. That's the way you switch from paranoia into care, from head to heart. Shame around herpes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy sometimes. You may have a belief that having herpes and disclosing is going to get you rejected. So you reject yourself before the other person can. You can use intimacy as a springboard into releasing your own shame and paranoia. We so often think that after we disclose, the worry monster is gone. But a new journey has just begun ... you pass the stage of disclosure and now you're in the stage of deeper intimacy.