Telling someone you have an STD is probably one of the hardest conversations you can have. It gets even harder if you have to tell your partner that you have a STD that can’t be cured. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that even though young people ages 15-24 represent only 25% of the sexually active population, they acquire nearly half of all newly diagnosed STD’s. College students may think they are immune to getting an STD because everyone around them looks healthy, but many college students are facing the horrible fact that they have contracted an STD. Once you find out you have an STD, the conversation to let your partner or future partners know can be devastatingly hard.
Putting this conversation off will only develop trust issues and put a huge strain on the relationship. Go into the conversation with a calm demeanor and stick to the facts at first. After telling your partner the facts, you can share your own feelings and grief about finding out. Remember that grief has many stages- denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally acceptance. You may still be struggling with your own acceptance of the STD while you are trying to have this conversation. However, it is very important not to put it off. Only wait if you are feeling a lot of anger because it may lead to you be very defensive which won’t be helpful to you or your partner. If you contracted the STD before you were in the relationship, let your partner know this and take the responsibility. However, sometimes it is hard to know who gave the STD to who. Encourage your partner to get tested as soon as possible. Sometimes this will help determine who had the STD first, but it is not always possible to figure out. Do not start to blame each other. Unless one of you has cheated in the relationship, it may not matter who had the STD first. The first conversation is only going to be the first of many if you plan to keep your relationship intact. The psychological and emotional effects are sometimes worse than the physical, so give yourselves both time to work through the emotions. It can be hard to accept, but some couples now realize that they can’t reinfect each other and go on to have a healthy sexual relationship. Acceptance is possible with strong communication and trust in place. It is emotionally hard because it isn’t something people often talk to others about. Some couples may decide not to tell anyone else and only have each other for support.
What if you find out you have an incurable STD and you aren’t in a relationship? In counseling, students work through a lot of self esteem issues and deal with their guilt. They have to learn to forgive themselves for not protecting themselves in the past. A lot of students state they feel gross and contagious. It is hard to confidently put yourself out there to meet new people when you feel this way. I see people who feel so ashamed that they are afraid to start a new relationship. We work on focusing on other things they have to offer in a relationship. After awhile some people who are tired of being alone may start to date, but break it off if it starts to become sexual. After avoiding sex for a long time, a lot of people have anxiety about being with someone again. In time, you will find someone you don’t want to run away from. Then its time for the dreaded conversation.
Some students have decided to go onto dating sites for people who have Herpes Simplex Virus or HIV to find others who are already infected. This has helped some people find satisfying relationships with someone who would automatically know about their STD. Some students who meet someone they really like ask when they should have this conversation. I encourage them to wait until they know the person better and want to be committed in the relationship. Its a no-brainer to say something before it becomes sexual. I suggest they be upfront and honest and share the risks with their new boyfriend or girlfriend. Facing the possible rejection is excruciating but a lot of students have reported positive results when having this conversation in a loving, positive relationship. It is a very courageous thing to tell someone about your sexual past, but it is very important to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.
Please be smart about your sex life. If you don’t have any STDs, be thankful and continue to practice safe sex. Get tested to avoid the devastating consequence of spreading an STD to someone else. If you have a STD that is incurable, life isn’t over. Many people are living happy, healthy lives and many people are in relationships. For more information please see the following websites listed below.
I wrote a post similar to this a few months ago. I realized after reading it again that I didn’t really give any suggestions on how to actually have the conversation. I made those corrections in this post. To read the previous post, please click on this link:
Pingback: How do I tell someone I have an STD?? | College Life- Sex and Relationships
My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 months, but we’ve been together for awhile longer before that. We haven’t had sex yet, but are planning on it. I have not told him about my HSV 2, and every time I think about telling him, I think it’ll be better if I just don’t . I’m so afraid that he will break up with me or be afraid to touch me, and I don’t want that to happen. I love him, and I know this will hurt him. Also, what about oral sex? If I perform oral on him is there a chance he could still catch it? And what if he performs oral on me?
Thanks so much for your comment. I can’t imagine how scared you must feel about telling him. However, I think he’ll take it much easier this way then if he finds out later he has HSV 2. You need to give him the chance to make the decision to take the risk or not. He may decide to break up with you, which would be sad, but better to know now than later. He may decide that he loves you enough to stay and take the risk. Also, talk to your doctor about the risks of oral sex. I don’t think you can give it him by performing oral sex, but I do think he can get it from you. Please double check this information, because I’m not totally sure of all the risks involved. I hope he stays, however, if he walks away, hopefully one day you find a guy who will stick by your side no matter what. HSV is a hard thing to deal with and I won’t lie and say this will be easy for either of you, but for his sake, I think he deserves to know the truth. Just like it would have been nice for you to know upfront from the person who gave it to you. Good luck!
Pingback: Am I at Risk for Getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection? | College Life- Sex and Relationships
I have hpv (genital warts) and me and my boyfriend have been together almost a year….we have already had sex a bunch of times, and i honestly believe i got it from him, but yet i don’t know how to tell him or talk to him about it…..I love him, and i want him to get tested to know if he has it or not, but i have no idea how to tell him something so embarassing because what if he does get tested and doesn’t have it? I’m stuck with this for life…and if we both do have it then can we still have sex? Oral sex? I need some guidance….
Thanks for your comment. This is a very hard conversation to have. First, it is really hard to know who gave HPV to who because sometimes it can lay dormant in your system for awhile. It is important that he be tested. Although, with some strains of HPV, men don’t have symptoms and it can be hard to test for it. It would be good for him to be tested any way. You want to sit him down and let him know you’re scared, then tell him how you found out about the diagnosis. Tell him you are really want to know if he has it, not to accuse him of giving it to you, but if he doesn’t have it by some miracle, you can then take precautions so there is less of chance he would contract the virus.
Just so you know, the likelihood of him having it if you’ve been together for awhile is very high. The good news is that you can’t reinfect one another. You would have the same strain and no need to worry about it except during break outs when it may be uncomfortable to have sex.
The other good news is HPV usually works itself out of your system within 2 years, so you most likely won’t have this for life. The bad news is that even with condoms, people still contract HPV. This is why it is so common. Some of the strains are small enough to get through condoms and it can be passed by skin to skin contact and not just intercourse. This is why if a person does get into a new relationship, they want to tell their partner because they will be at risk of contracting it. Although condoms reduce the risk, it definitely doesn’t eliminate it.
I hope the conversation goes well. Reiterate to your partner that HPV is very very common. That even if you were having safe sex with condoms, you can still contract it. That you could have contracted it recently or awhile ago and not known. Maybe that will help him take the news better. It is hard to face possible rejection, but he really has the right to know. I also hope he won’t accuse you of giving it to him. Let him know it is highly unlikely you’ll ever know who gave it to who and that you can only go from here. Get checked again every 6 months-1 year. Most likely in 2-3 years you will no longer have it in your system or his and you won’t have to worry if you stay monogamous.