Why You Should Always Share Your Herpes Status

The other day I received a message on Grindr that I found disturbing. I know what you’re thinking, “of course you did, it’s Grindr.” However it wasn’t one of those typical messages and in what I presume was a first for the app there wasn’t a penis anywhere to be seen. 

Since most seem to use the app for hookups I have listed my positive herpes status front and center. In reply to my warm greeting they wrote back, “sharing your herpes status seems extreme when there are so many treatments that make it untransmittable.” 

Abrupt? A little. My initial message said nothing about herpes. It was about relationships and the emotional aspect of waking up with someone in the morning (a response to her profile). To begin a conversation by ignoring my message and delivering a critique is a dick move for sure but that is beyond the scope of what I want to talk about. 

The key issue at hand is about revealing your positive status. You can choose to do this whenever you would like so long as it is prior to any activity that might risk transmitting herpes to someone else. Unfortunately, that means activities using your mouth for folks whose infections could surface orally and your deliciously naughty bits for those where it could surface genitally. 

So let’s get to their claim. 

To be sure, there are antiviral drugs out there but there isn’t a single company advertising anywhere that their product will render herpes noncommunicable. The only way to say that definitively is if a drug actually eliminated the virus. This would be a groundbreaking claim as nothing has been able to do anything other than manage herpes to this point in time.

Viral shedding is a possibility and so far it doesn’t seem like anyone knows definitively when this is or isn’t occurring, just that it can occur. So while the risk certainly drops when on antivirals, there is no way to say with certainty that herpes is noncommunicable in any state of activity or dormancy. 

If we look critically at someone who feels it isn’t necessary to reveal that they carry a communicable disease to an intimate or sexual partner we have to ask why. Why would someone choose not to reveal this?

After all, disclosing this status doesn’t mean you won’t find someone and it doesn’t even mean you will never have sex again. Trust me on that point. However, it does probably mean that some people will decide to skip the opportunity to date or have sex with you because of it.

It’s herein that lies the crux of hiding a positive status. People don’t want to disclose their positive status because they know that it will thin out the number of people willing to have sex with them. They want to have sex and since they already have herpes there is no further risk to them (except for other sexually transmitables). All that’s left now for them is to not care about their sexual partners. 

I can hear them now. “It’ll be okay. They won’t get it.” Allow me to say that we most certainly can get it and there are no altruistic reasons for hiding your positive status, only selfish ones. 

There’s a lot of reasons the United States is experiencing a resurgence in the reported incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. One of them is surely that someone decides it isn’t worth telling the people with whom they have sex. We are living in increasingly selfish times. 

The one thing I think about when my mind drifts through the how and why of herpes is “I wonder if the person who gifted me this wonderful little critter knew ahead of time?” I don’t regret my choices. I may have made each of them exactly the same all over again, even if I knew one or more of my partners had herpes. Herpes for me is not a life changer, it’s just something that can happen. 

However, even though I’ve made peace with it, there was a time when I would have been extremely upset to find that the person who gave me herpes knew their positive status and hid it from me. If someone suspects or knows they have herpes and conceals it from sexual partners then that is a reprehensible act. I would feel horrible if an informed partner contracted herpes while with me. The grief I would feel from giving it to an uninformed partner would be worse yet; a moral atrocity that would haunt me for the rest of my days. 

Hiding a positive status from someone where sex is eminent is violating the very notion of free and informed consent.

If you have herpes then you owe your partners the right to choose. Those of us with a positive status don’t have the right to make decisions for another person’s body and health. This is a matter of autonomy that no one should intrude upon. 

Personally, I want my partners to know that I respect them enough to help them experience the freedom, even the power, not just to choose but to walk away from the relationship if they want. If they do leave then we obviously weren’t a match. If they stay then I know I mean enough to them to be worth the chance. There is value in both outcomes. 

There’s something to be clear about at the close of this article which is that informing a partner doesn’t make you saintly. This is just what people should be doing for one another. Choosing to sidestep the act of doing another person harm is the bare minimum of what being a decent person entails. It’s just that there are so many self-absorbed folks out there that those of us with a modicum of empathy and respect shine by comparison. 

Be decent and share your status.

When Online Dating Goes Poorly

If you date long enough you are bound to have a succession of encounters that don’t go as planned. Romantic interests disappear, don’t show up, blow up over something small or just generally seem like train wrecks. Occasionally, when these occurrences stack up it can start to weigh on you. The question then becomes, what to think about these situations and how do you process what happened?

Trust me when I say that this happens to everyone. In fact, that’s what inspired this piece. I was watching my friends go through the same types of occurrences I was and it made me realize what a universal experience we were having. This was despite the fact that we were searching for vastly different types of people. Allow me to share a less than ideal week from my dating past so you can have a few examples. 

I met someone for a date that didn’t go well. Sadly, it was some of the most shallow conversations I have had on a date (I guess someone had to win that title). The one important thing we touched on was that the other people she had been out with didn’t feel as if she liked them so they quit asking her out. I also came to the conclusion that her repeated claims of independence served as a cover for her apathy and distance from others. However, since I generally give people the benefit of the doubt on first dates I decided to see her one more time. After all, maybe she was just nervous and we would have a better time the second go round.

Despite saying she would like to go out again, she would take 24 hours to return each of my messages. This meant that every day our conversation would progress one additional text. This is far from ideal and doesn’t exactly scream “I’m interested,” so I decided to make an inquiry. 

I asked if she had any interest in continuing our connection. I mentioned that the infrequent communication made me feel as if she wasn’t interested and I wanted to check in to see what she was thinking. I let her know that if she wasn’t interested in meeting up again that I would understand and there would be no hard feelings on my end. She replied quickly this time; I must be needy she said and she is no longer interested. I didn’t spend any effort trying to convince her otherwise. I thanked her for her time and wished her well. 

The second scenario involved a person who didn’t want to text except to set up a time and place of my choosing in which to meet. When I suggested we get together for a drink so we can get to know one another they ripped into me saying, “Would you approach someone you liked in public and ask to meet for a conversation?”

Since walking up to total strangers and asking for their hand in marriage has historically been fraught with problems for me, I tend to take a more cautious approach over a drink or dinner. Finding out who someone is and what they believe is important. It beats waking up one day after 20 years and saying wait, “you’re actually 30 years older than me, don’t speak any English and are running a fanzine for white supremacists?” Humph! Fool me once . . .

I tried to ascertain what this person meant as their text while full of emotion wasn’t exactly clear as to the meaning. They never messaged back. 

The final incident was with someone I enjoyed messaging. We were trading jokes and they had a sharp wit about them. Everything was going well and on day two when I went to ask them out they had removed our match and were gone. It felt unfortunate for me because I was looking forward to meeting. 

Situations such as these can be frustrating. It can be challenging to match with others and if those matches end up being the types of experiences I mentioned then it can be especially demoralizing.

So what was going on with these people and in similar situations how should you handle it? In truth, I don’t know what made them act as they did, and I don’t intend this to be dismissive, but I don’t need to know either. I also don’t think you should pay it any mind because if done properly you’re probably better off without their company. Here’s the first thing you should know. 

Be the best version of you. 

This is so vitally important. You should always be as kind, compassionate and understanding as you can. I’m operating under the premise that you want to be these things. If you’re one of those folks who wants to be a jerk all the time then be that, people will appreciate knowing to avoid you from the very start; just know the rest of this article is more about you than for you. So, if you aren’t rude, shallow, sexist, off putting, or exhibiting any other horrible traits then there’s a huge upside. 

You see, it’s worse to try and tailor yourself, however slight, to another person’s interests and then have things not work out. You will wonder “what if I was actually being true to who I am, would this still have happened?” If you’re honest and forthcoming and things go south there’s nothing to second guess. You were the good you and if they didn’t like that then it’s okay. After all, you want someone who will appreciate you for you. In situations like this, it was probably a simple mismatch in personality and not only is this common, but it’s nothing to worry about either. 

So once you’ve done some introspection and checked yourself then you’re good to implement these next ways of viewing your situation. 

It’s most likely not about you. 

I alluded to this above. Our personalities come out through any type of contact so you shouldn’t worry about a simple personality mismatch because statistically that’s going to happen most of the time. 

The other thing that happens is a lot of folks seem to get triggered nowadays and I think it’s partially because we have put dating at our fingertips. There’s nothing wrong with dating apps (in fact I think they’re great) but it does mean that more people are dating before they are ready. 

Think about the difference between dating now and 20 years ago. Back then, you had to tend to your appearance, go outside of your home, and work up the nerve to approach someone in person. This took a lot more resolve than it does now. Today you can put yourself online while laying in bed wearing your favorite crossdressing outfit (Ah come on, I know it isn’t just me). So it makes perfect sense that once folks begin messaging on dating sites/apps that they might decide they aren’t quite ready to be out there just yet. That’s perfectly understandable. 

The other thing is that it’s hard to know what’s going on in someone’s life. Everyone has their own demons and triggers and it’s not your responsibility to be accountable for them. I know that sounds harsh so allow me to expand upon that idea. Just like before, I’m not saying you can be a jerk but if you unknowingly hit on something that is upsetting someone then you aren’t to blame. 

You may text someone about a dog laying at your feet and make them realize they are too heartbroken over recently losing their pet and they aren’t in a position to be open to someone else yet. They may never respond to you again after this realization and that is their choice but it’s not your responsibility that a regular conversation triggered them. 

That was a fairy innocuous example (one which actually happened to me) but the point is, maybe they have had a horrible day, have commitment issues, an abusive relationship in their past, or any number of things. There is certainly a reason but you’ll likely never know what it is. It would be great if everyone who was triggered could have a discussion when it happens. That’s not how being triggered usually works; people tend to retreat, not open up. 

Just operate in good faith and don’t let it get under your skin. 

Try to assume the best and keep on rolling. 

I can hear you saying, “why do I assume the best?” It’s a good question and the answer is simple. You have two ways of thinking about this. You can internalize it and make it about you. This is a mindset that will eventually bring you down wondering if you’re good enough. This way of thinking can eventually become a form of self harm. Or you can say, “they must have had something going on in their life for them to act like that, I hope they find what they want.” This approach is a forgiving way to view someone who may be having a difficult time and it leaves you relatively unencumbered to venture on to someone else. 

Also keep in mind that if you date long enough then you will eventually become someone else’s mystery. Think of a time when you messed up by being triggered, didn’t text or call someone, or otherwise just dropped the ball. It’s alright. It happens, but you probably wanted the benefit of doubt in those situations so extend a few good vibes their way as well.

Ultimately, it is on them. 

Whether you know it or not, folks who respond poorly, negatively, or not at all, on a consistent basis are creating problems for themselves more than they are for you in that moment. 

For instance, remember the infrequent communicator I mentioned earlier? She said her past dates didn’t think she liked them. Given my experience, I’m pretty sure I know why. I could tell by her tone that this was causing her pain. It was much more painful for her than her seeming lack of interest was to me. 

It always sucks to have these types of things happen, but don’t let it keep you down for too long. Remember, you’re rolling on to other experiences and to find someone else. Some of these folks are likely to repeat their patterns again and again. You don’t need to be a part of that. 

Really. Count your blessings 

First off, the people I mentioned above don’t really seem like those you would want to date do they? A person who ghosts someone without a word, someone who thinks so little of another they can’t be bothered to respond for 24 hours at a time, and another person who feels it necessary to chide someone during their first interaction for following their instructions. 

If you were dating folks who react like this then things probably don’t look up from there. They are giving you their best foot forward and it badly needs some fungicide and a pedicure (because everyone looks better in nail polish). I know in my life letting these folks go has felt like stepping off the tracks in front of a screaming locomotive that is bound to derail. It’s one of those situations where I scratch my head as it passes and ask out loud, “what the heck was that all about?”

So take solace in what is probably a fact, and is certainly the main takeaway from this writing, they weren’t in the same mental space as you anyway. That’s okay. Thank your lucky talisman that you found out in the very beginning. Now you can free up that time and space for someone who can thrive with you. 

It’s okay to be upset. 

I don’t want you to think for a minute that you can’t grieve or be upset about some of the lost opportunities you’ll have while dating. Some folks you are going to become attached to quickly and your thoughts will drift to the what-if’s. When those connections sour it can make you feel as if you missed out and that can be even harder. Very few people would fault you for feeling that way. 

So by all means take some time to recover if you need. Cry if you feel it necessary as it is wonderfully restorative. Taking time to heal is what will keep you centered in the long run. 

All of this fades in time

There will be a moment when you won’t even remember most of these folks anymore. I know I wouldn’t have remembered the people I spoke of if I hadn’t started this article soon after meeting them. Don’t let the experience stick with you when the faces aren’t likely to. This is one blip in your life that you aren’t likely to remember any more than who sat behind you in second grade. So keep in mind that what bothers you today isn’t likely to do so tomorrow. 

Dating isn’t always easy and there are folks out there who seem to make it their duty to be difficult. Remember though, that things don’t always go according to plan and that’s to be expected. Know that it isn’t about you and that sooner or later you will be back to meet someone else. You’ll keep doing that until one day you’ve found someone special with whom to spend your time. Be kind, be self-aware, and keep your head up; the trains here run around the clock. 

Changing Your Last Impression

I’m not sure the reason but people often talk to me about relationship problems they’re having. Maybe it’s because I seem to be open and accepting, that I readily share my experiences with them or that I rock jean shorts.

Regardless, one of the problems I’ve been hearing from people as of late deals with their concern over the last impression that a former partner has. Usually this is expressed as something along the lines of “I can’t make my ex believe the reason that I left them. How can I get  them to understand?”

Usually I inquire about the nature of their relationship, the reason for them leaving and what their former partner thinks about the situation. While this can be useful information and I may be able to offer my suggestion for approaching the situation differently I always put emphasis on this one huge fact; you probably can’t.

I can hear you saying, “Wait isn’t he supposed to offer a solution?” The answer is yes, I am supposed to give you something to help you along, though it may not technically be a solution. Also, quit judging me already for fucks sake!

There are two big reasons that immediately come to mind that may cause someone not to believe you.

The first one is going to be a toughy because let’s be honest; you could be lying. I know you didn’t come here to get berated, but we’ve all had that person whose breakup reason was just a line of bullshit. For instance, the woman who told me that a 20 minute drive to see me was an obstacle was a bullshit reason. On the other hand, the girl that broke up with me in grade school because I threw rocks at her and her friend was completely legitimate (to be fair they started it – I think). So lies happen in relationships and let’s face it you could be that person. Are you really being honest about your motivations?

For the record, a break up is the perfect time to be completely honest. Just make sure to be kind in the process. Honesty is not an excuse to be mean. If you want the person to believe you though be as transparent and honest as possible. Forget about saving face and be prepared to admit a few things you did wrong (or that they felt you did wrong). Say you’re sorry for what was a mistake, but don’t apologize for your emotions or make them apologize for the way they feel.

Admitting these things and fessing up may be what it takes to earn your former partners trust. I’ve found that honesty is an amazing thing.

So assuming you have already been completely honest and your ex doesn’t believe you it’s important to remember another thing. The person you are petitioning may have their own reasons for not believing you.

They may be protecting their ego, guarding against more hurt or dealing with a myriad of insecurities. You can’t help them (or you as the case may be) on this front. You’re just going to have to lay out your case as truthfully as possible, hope for the best, and then go your own way.

They may eventually put some weight behind what you’ve said and believe you. Sometimes, people need time to process everything and gain some distance before they can even start to consider the merits of another person’s reasoning.

On the other hand, they might always feel like you lied to them. There’s not much you can do. Just as you want them to accept what you say, you may have to accept their explanation and move on. It’s shitty, but true.

Well, that’s pretty much all I can think to say on the subject (abrupt ending anyone). It’s not rocket science of course, but I never promised you the world cupcake. Sometimes though, it’s nice to read someone else’s thoughts just to get the wheels turning. To that end: I hope you enjoyed.

Former Hook-up Artist Turns Over New Leaf

Neil Strauss was popular for having written a guide to picking up women. One of his more deplorable techniques was to try and lower a woman’s self esteem so she would sleep with him. A sure sign that his self-esteem was pretty low at the time also.

However, here he seems to have pulled his life together in a more positive manner. I’ll let you be the judge.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/10/neil-strauss-the-game-book-truth

Gay Guys Can Be Shitheads Too

sloppy-guy

So my physical relationship with men has been a roller coaster. I’m attracted to men, but it’s something I’ve only been able to explore fully in the last 9 months or so. That means my experience isn’t where I want it to be. Of course, there’s no shortage of men who want to fuck me or be fucked by me, but this is difficult as well because I’m interested in a much narrower grouping of men than I am women. Not to mention that a lot of guys with sex on their mind throw all courtesy out the window when they’re trolling online and I deserve more respect than this. Yup, that means I don’t want to see a picture of your dick. Try the novel approach of actually having a real conversation (and not about sex).

I just ended a horrible, albeit super short encounter (supposed to be physical in some way) with a guy I met on Grindr. Okay settle down, I hear you and you’re right. The Grindr crowd is a fairly toxic population but I’ve met a couple of good people on there and had awesome sexual experiences with them, plus I can usually weed the shitheads out. Actually, I’m about to talk about a guy I had ruled out once before. I should have stuck with my earlier ruling.

Anyway, the short explanation of what went down is that I wasn’t attracted to him. After we had agreed to meet he had an event to attend and would be over shortly after. I heard from him next when he said he was just finishing up eating tacos. Since highly spiced meat doesn’t do wonders for someone’s breath I asked him to take some courtesy measures. He said, “I’ll have to run by home then.” Great, he wasn’t planning on doing this in the first place that’s reassuring. I don’t think it’s too much to expect someone that you’ve never met to have good oral hygiene when making out is on the horizon. Once he arrived home he said he was freshening up a bit. Given that his house wasn’t one of his intended stops before coming over what kind of disrepair was this guy in before he went to tidy up?

I found out soon enough once we got into the light. He showed up in a shirt that I’m pretty sure was wrinkled and stained and not in a designer clothing kind of way. He was scruffy which I had expected, but it was unkempt.

His conversation wasn’t any better. He had photography listed as a hobby so I was trying to chat him up on that but it wasn’t working. I showed him a few of my pictures, but still nothing. He actually showed disinterest in any conversation. He seemed put off that I didn’t want to swallow his dick as soon as we walked in the door. Was I reading him wrong? Of course not, but at the time I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

We sat down at my behest and started talking. Oh wait, did I say we? I meant me. He put his hand on my leg and his other hand down his pants. Classy right? As an aside, I’ll also be hosting a seminar on how to find all the good men. In case anything happened (which at this point seemed pretty fucking slim to none) I initiated the STI conversation. He withdrew his hand (both of them) and dejectedly said it was a buzzkill to talk about it, but he was clean.

Whelp! That pretty much does it for me. At this point I was at a loss of what to say but I wasn’t about to have sex with whatever this was in front of me. I started by saying that I’m not sure I want to do anything. His reply is that if I’m not sure I want to do anything physical then that means I don’t. It’s the most he had said in my presence and he was right. I said that while I was in the mood earlier that I just wasn’t feeling it currently. He immediately got up and walked out.

He was there for 5 minutes total. If he hadn’t been so impatient and actually entered into a conversation maybe I could have seen that he was a nice guy and given him a shot or made out or something, but of course when someone storms out after they find out you’re not going to have sex with them you can rest assured that they weren’t a nice guy.

I waited for what was inevitable. I knew I would be bombarded by angry vitriolic messages that would hinge on his insecurities and demonstrate his true nature. Basically, I was about to receive confirmation that I made the right choice. Like clockwork they came streaming in. He said I wasn’t genuine, my photography was shitty, I look older than my photo (it’s about 2 months old and only adjusted for color), basically he attacked anything and everything he knew about me.

I told him that it was my mistake because we should have met somewhere first to gauge our attraction and that it just wasn’t there for me. The insults kept streaming in after that, something about how I wasn’t attractive either, but I don’t even really know what was said. I blocked him. There wasn’t much point in having my phone light up all night to keep me on edge about messages I wasn’t going to read. I had done what I needed to do and his meltdown was his own problem. I don’t owe anybody sex. I don’t care if I do meet someone on the skeeziest hookup app there is and talk about sex till we’re blue in the – uh . . . face. If at any time I (or someone else) says no then that’s definitive.

My take away from this is that I should always meet someone out for a drink first to gauge who they are and my level of attraction as much as possible. This goes for hookups too. I should probably only select guys from my narrow band of interest. I hate to be like this and I wish my attraction was more varied, but it’s not apparently. Also, and this is key, I should probably delete my Grindr profile and the app. For now though it still remains on my phone beckoning me to reach out and find Mr. Wrong.

Getting Dumped, Kind Of: A story of honesty

For those of you who don’t know I’m currently choosing to date non- monogamously. For some of you this probably sounds great because I can have multiple partners. This is technically true, but it hasn’t really worked out that way for more than a week or two at a time. This brings me to the other part of being non-monogamous, that you may not have considered, which is that I end up getting dumped more often.

This just happened to me ten minutes ago (at least at the time of this writing). Here’s the skinny: I met someone online and reading her profile was like reading my own in many ways so I reached out to her and we clicked. On our date it was awesome. We met with a long hug. We laughed and shared intimate moments of our existence with one another such as how she doesn’t share her phone number with people until she can trust them. When I moved closer to her just for the sake of it she closed the gap, kissed me and then told me how great it was. Later upon kissing her neck she moaned. The night was over in a flash, but we had talked for 6 hours. When I walked her to her car we held hands and kissed goodbye.

I sent her a message later that night with my phone number. I told her that she didn’t have to use it until she was ready and that we could use the dating app until that moment arrived. She replied with a text telling me that I had beat her to it.

I was in, or so I thought. The day before our next date she sent me a text to say that our distance was an issue (20 miles) and that a relationship she had with a guy in the same town as me hadn’t worked for that reason. I called bullshit (in my head) on both fronts and decided to remove that excuse. I knew she wanted out and that I wasn’t going to change her mind; so be it, but I wanted to know the truth. I told her if that was all there is to it I could be the one to come see her each time. Of course, such a one-sided solution is not a tenable situation for any relationship, but I was just gambling and cutting through her fake answer.

It worked. “To be honest,” she said, (for the second time) “I was trying to make it easier by saying that. I’m just not feeling it.”

I told her I accepted that and thanked her for being honest. Just knowing the real reason helped me to put most of the situation behind me immediately. I don’t know what to make of everything else that happened, but now that I have the truth, somehow I don’t have to.

A Letter to the Catfish Who Hurt Me: The one that didn’t get away (video)

A Catfish in the online world is a person who pretends to be someone else. The term was popularized by the MTV Documentary called Catfish, which you really should watch because it’s pretty good. Plus, you’ll never understand where the name comes from if you don’t. That’s right; I’m not going to tell you. You’re just going to have to get off your ass and sit down and watch this movie. Essentially though, a Catfish is someone who has created a fake online profile, usually for dating, in order to lead others on.

Recently, I matched with a woman on Tinder. Let’s call her Heather. Primarily because that was her name, but also because I’m sure it was a fake. Her pictures showed a very short but also very attractive woman. Upon contacting, I relayed my relationship desires to her and she fit perfectly. I realize now that she was just mirroring my sentiment in order to hook me. We sent texts for a couple of days, talked on the phone and agreed to meet for a wonderful physical encounter leading into a friendship.

She wasn’t perfect of course; her main flaw was that her responses were so short. In return I write fairly extensive and in depth messages. However, this is nothing new because even though women chastise guys for messaging them with “Hey” I’ve found that 75% of women suck at conversations too (don’t get cocky guys you’re probably closer to a 90% suck rate). I usually end any conversation with this dynamic, but I was in a particularly vulnerable state that caused me to overlook it.

Aside from conversational dynamics she seemed perfect in so many ways and I began to wonder if maybe way down the road this might not be the foundation for something more.

The day of our date came and I left work early to maximize our time together. She responded to a message of mine to say she was running late. Tardiness is a huge annoyance of mine because it makes me think that people don’t care enough about me to be on time. How bad did she really want to meet if she was late for a first date? I started to get a sinking feeling that I was going to get stood-up. Still, maybe she really was just running late.

Alas, that was the last I heard from her. I sent a text that went unanswered and when I called, her phone was off. My suspicion had become a reality, I was someone’s amusement and I was crushed. My desires, my emotions and my life are not a fucking game. Yet the results told a different story. I retreated to a corner of my apartment to cry profusely, for the first time ever my tears formed an appropriately sized puddle of sorrow on the bathroom floor. With blurred vision I opened the text messaging on my phone and began composing this:

Continue reading “A Letter to the Catfish Who Hurt Me: The one that didn’t get away (video)”