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(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 haveor 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: