For a lot of sero-discordant couples (one has herpes, the other doesn't), there can still be a lot of shame that the herpes partner carries that can kill the mood and over time, possibly the sexual connection. But what if we can use a powerful reframe of play and flirting to heighten intimacy during herpes outbreaks instead of destroying it?
A sizzling sexy relationship — yes, with herpes! — is in your future. And it all starts with your relationship to what herpes means to your sex life: 1) Is herpes a sex killer or 2) does herpes give a new perspective on trust, caring and support in relationship? Can you feel that difference? That is the first part of seeing it as a relationship strengthener. Sound a bit counterintuitive? You’re gonna love this.
Small print: Before getting into specifics, let me first say that every couple must have the conversation about the risk of the herpes-free partner getting herpes. It’s just a fact. There’s always a chance of the partner getting herpes even when precautions are taken. Of course condoms are the best way to keep the partner herpes-free (while there’s still risk). Some couples will choose to go at it au natural; in these cases the herpes partner might consider taking herpes medication between outbreaks to lower the risk.
This is a common occurrence in herpes relationships: One person has herpes and the partner doesn’t (case in point: me and my wife). And keeping the non-herpes partner free from herpes doesn’t have to be a burden and especially not a turnoff. Keeping your partner herpes-free can actually be a beautiful way to take the relationship deeper.
I get how this can sound just plain backwards. After all, there are times in a herpes relationship where sexual contact is out of the question (during the occasional herpes occurrences). How can avoiding direct sexual contact actually turn up the connection to be even sexier?
Think of this in terms of how it works with other romantic sensual experiences … a big part of this includes teasing. Teasing in terms of playfully withholding sex, or maybe teasing by wearing a blindfold to cut off one sense in order to heighten the other senses. If you take the stigma out of herpes, then herpes outbreaks are simply times in which everything other than sexual intercourse is fair game (or anywhere an outbreak is present). This can be a time of peaking the desire, stoking the fire, holding back from what you both want but can’t have. Like most things – but especially sex – the more you realize you can’t have it, of course the more you want it. Embrace this truism to your advantage.
So just like anything else, just use your imagination! Make a game out of it. Have fun with it. Take the direct sexual contact out of the mix and playfully explore in all the other realms of intimacy. Not only will it make the sex that much better when all’s clear on the southern front, but such exploration will expand the options when all-out sex is re-introduced to the relationship.
If you're interested in more related to this, check out the Lifestyle Guides. Module 4 is all about sex and enhancing your connection.