There are plenty of things about herpes that we hear through the media and beliefs we already have in our heads that affect how we feel about having herpes. And most of these things we tell ourselves are simply wrong! Plucking these thoughts out of your head helps to have more control over your perspective.
Fascinating Untruth #1:
“No one will love me since I have herpes”
The fact is that people don’t tend to fall in love or out of love (or even fall out of interest) just because of a simple virus. In the world of actual love (lust may be different), it isn’t one sole trait that is used to determine attraction, but something deeper.
Let’s say someone is evaluating you just on paper, with a positives column on one side and a negatives column on the other. If herpes falls into the “negatives” column, then allow yourself to see that all those other aspects of yourself in the “positives” column easily outweigh herpes. Focus on your positive qualities and those positive qualities will shine. Take ownership of getting herpes instead of allowing the victim mentality to claim you. Such confidence will overpower the negative associations that people might have with it. Remember that people on the whole are more drawn to the positives than repulsed by the negatives. If you focus on how horrible herpes is and that it’s such a deal-breaker, then you’ll masterfully figure out how to make that true. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” And the same goes for our own deeper personal beliefs. So whether you think herpes will stop you from finding love or that herpes will help you go deeper in relationships, you’re right.
Fascinating Untruth #2:
“Only dirty people get herpes by sleeping with other dirty people.”
That myth of herpes being “dirty” has run its course. I doubt I even have to say this because of so much proof to the contrary, but perfectly “clean” people can still contract herpes, and many perfectly "clean" people have gotten herpes, too. So does that mean these people magically become “dirty” after a herpes diagnosis? Because of a simple virus? Before your mind jumps from previous assumptions of herpes, think if it really serves you to link such demeaning assumptions to your own identity. It’s a big jump and an unfair one at that.
Fascinating Untruth #3:
“I feel horrible about herpes. Herpes is for life. Therefore I will feel horrible for the rest of my life.”
If you are one of those people who have a negative association with herpes, just know that such an association isn’t what herpes itself brings to the party. Your mind and a whole host of previously held beliefs infuses a whole lot of meaning into the blank slate of herpes. Believe it or not, herpes is the innocent one here. Stop blaming herpes. It’s about learning to change your relationship to herpes to be a more realistic one. If herpes is for life, it doesn’t mean that feeling bad for yourself has to be for life, too. That part is your decision. Instead of feeling horrible for the rest of your life because of herpes, you can feel more empowered and confident than you ever thought possible. That is an option, too.
Fascinating Untruth #4:
“If I disclose to a potential partner that I have herpes, they’ll judge me/think I’m nasty/run away.”
Not everyone has such a negative association with herpes. Some people see it for what it actually is: one of the potential risks of having sex (swimming amongst all the beautiful things about sex, too).
The most important question is this: What have you made herpes up to mean about you? If you think it makes you dirty, shameful and disgusting, then most likely the way you talk about it and associate with it will enforce that belief. You are what you believe. (Read The Judgment Boomerang.)
For other people who are affected by the media’s portrayal of herpes and popular culture saying it’s all these horrible things, remember that even in such a case, this person hasn’t met YOU yet. You are a whole person, and herpes only happens to be a small part of that whole “you” package. It’s the classic case of stereotyping: If I believe that everyone with herpes is dirty, then I might as well have other narrow-minded blanket beliefs about all black/mexican/chinese people, all rich/poor people, all women/men, all humans. It’s just not right. Period.
Also, think about the alternative. Not having the herpes talk with potential partners puts them at risk for getting herpes, too, and you don’t want to go passing it around and giving yourself (and herpes) a bad rap. This kind of flippant sexual activity stems from true denial. Potential partners who are good people are much more likely to see the positive aspects in you disclosing “I have herpes,” which takes integrity. That sets you apart in the dating pool in a very real and authentic way. It shows a true strength of character and a deep sense of caring for the people you choose to be with.