Dating With Herpes

If we’re being super blunt and transparent, having herpes sucks. And while that’s the unfortunate truth, there is good news. Often, people who contract herpes think that their romantic and dating lives are over.

But that’s simply not true. Dating with herpes does require a little more out of you, but it’s still completely possible to have a fun, exciting, romantic, and fruitful dating life!

In this guide, we’re going to look at all the different aspects that come with dating after diagnosis. We’ll share where to meet singles, talk about dating people who don’t have herpes, and share tips and resources for success.

Can I Date With Herpes?

The answer is a resounding yes! There are no reasons you should feel like your romantic life is over just because you have herpes. Whether or not you want to or can date people who don’t have herpes is going to be something for you to decide, and it is something we will address directly further on in this guide.

The bottom line takeaway from here, though, is that you can 100% date with herpes.

Is Dating With Herpes Hard?

The truth about dating with herpes is that it will be somewhat different than dating is for someone without a positive diagnosis. Does this mean that it’s harder? Not really; it just means that it’s different. You may have to have a few more awkward conversations and you may run into people who aren’t interested in dating.

However, other than that, it should be “business as usual” in the romantic department. As long as you don’t let your diagnosis control your mind and overtake your life, you’ll be just fine.

In other words, here’s the bottom line. Is dating with herpes harder than dating without herpes? To a degree, yes. Does this mean that dating with herpes is hard? No, it doesn’t have to be if you approach it properly and don’t let it consume you.

Can I Date People Without Herpes if I am Positive?

Yes, you can date people who don’t have herpes if you have a positive diagnosis. There are absolutely going to be people who are not comfortable with it, and that is okay. A lot of your success will depend on how you approach the situations, how transparent and communicative you are, and the types of singles you’re looking for. We’ll get into all of that and how to do it better later on in this guide.

Where to Meet Singles

Now that we’ve cleared up that it’s totally okay to date with herpes, let’s talk about where to meet singles. There are many avenues you can choose, some that are going to be more fruitful and easier than others. It all is going to depend on what you’re looking for.

Herpes Dating Sites

If you’re looking to date other singles who have herpes as well, you have a lot of options. While you don’t have to date only singles with the same diagnosis, it does greatly limit the number of potentially awkward conversations you might have to have. Additionally, it means you’ll be dating men and women who really understand what you’re going through.

Traditional Dating Sites

If you’re interested in dating singles who may not have a positive diagnosis, that’s totally okay too! Traditional online dating apps and apps are a great place to start conversations and get to know people who may be perfect fits for you. With this method, you will need to have a slightly different and more transparent approach (which we will discuss shortly), but it’s still a great avenue to check!

The “Normal” Places

Just because you have herpes doesn’t mean you’re relegated to only meeting singles online. The perk of the online realm is that you can meet like-minded people and you have the opportunity to have tougher conversations earlier if you want.

But you can still meet singles at all of the normal places like bars, work, school, coffee shops, etc. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you do meet someone who is a part of somewhere you frequent and you share your diagnosis and it’s not received well, you could potentially see that information spread around. We’ll address that more in the next section.

Should I Disclose That I Have Herpes When Dating?

You should absolutely plan on disclosing your herpes status when you are dating. Yes, this probably means tough or potentially awkward conversations. Yes, this probably means some people are not going to be accepting of it. However, at the end of the day, you have to do the right thing. Additionally, starting a relationship off on a lie that could affect someone’s health is not a good idea and is not fair to them.

This one is an easy and strong yes, you should disclose. That being said, it doesn’t mean you have to blurt it out the first second you start talking or in a way that doesn’t bode well for you. Let’s talk about the right way to disclose the information and when the most appropriate time is.

When Should I Disclose My Diagnosis?

If you’re using a herpes dating site, the answer is pretty easy—you have an easy way to disclose it upfront on your profile in a community that is 100% filled with people who are going to be accepting.

If you’re dating singles who don’t have herpes (or you don’t know for sure), the question becomes when is the right time to share.

Let’s start by working backward. You 100% have to share before you have any sexual contact or get in a situation where you may be tempted to have sexual contact. The other person has a right to know before they run any (even small) risk of contracting it. And the reason you want to do this even before you get in a situation where you may be tempted is we’ve heard a lot of stories of people who planned to tell but got “caught up in the moment” and didn’t say anything for fear of rejection.

As long as you tell before these situations, you’re not going to be wrong. That being said, there are more optimal times, especially if you’re not planning on having sexual interaction for a longer period of time.

While it’s completely up to you, here’s our take. The first date is a little soon to bring up something like this. You’re just seeing if there is any chemistry and if there is even a point to go deeper with someone. Again, this is assuming you’re not going to be having sexual intimacy on the first date.

For us, the right time to tell someone you have herpes is on dates two, three, or four. This gives the person enough time to get to know you outside of your diagnosis first but it’s also soon enough that if it’s a hard no for them, you didn’t waste either of your time.

The type of herpes you have may play into this as well. If you get cold sores and such, you may want to tell sooner as the chance of a first kiss may be more imminent. If it’s genital herpes, you can really go anywhere in that window as typically the chance of intimate contact is lower the first few dates (depending on your style).

Again, no matter what, make sure you disclose your diagnosis prior to even the temptation of something happening where transmission could be possible—no matter how low the risk.

How Should I Disclose I Have Herpes to Matches?

If you’ve ever heard the cliché that it’s not what you say but it’s how you say it, that’s certainly somewhat true here. It still matters what you say, but the manner in which you present it can be the difference in success.

Ideally, this should be a conversation had in person. Is that a requirement? No. If you don’t feel like you can bring yourself to bring it up in person or on the phone, texting is okay. The important part is that you’re having the conversation which is highly commendable.

As for what you should say, it should go something like this.

  1. Mention that you have something you want to share with them
  2. Clearly state that you’ve had a positive diagnosis
  3. Share supporting information to help put them at ease
  4. Acknowledge that it’s probably a lot to process
  5. Share that you still want the relationship to continue
  6. Let them ask any questions
  7. Give them time to think about it if they need to

Some of the important things that go along with this to keep in mind include:

  • Don’t make it sound like it’s this massive big deal, like you’re about to tell them you’re a serial killer or something. It’s important and should be treated as such, but don’t build it up to bigger than it is.
  • Avoid making jokes about it. Even if you’re a funny person, take a minute to have a serious conversation and avoid jokes that might muddy the water.
  • Be clear. Don’t beat around the bush. This helps you avoid having to have the conversation multiple times.
  • Be prepared for them to not be okay with it. People are free to feel how they want to, and you have to be prepared to respect that.
  • Be okay with them asking tough questions. This shows they’re genuinely interested in you and considering how to feel about it. If you get mad at them, that’s not going to end well.
  • Be okay with them needing to take time to think about things. You’ve had a long time to think this through, and the conversation will be the first they hear about it.

What’s also important is having supporting information that can help put them at ease. Here are some things to have prepared to share:

  • Exact details about the type of herpes you have.
  • Anything that you’re doing to mitigate the spread (medicines, how often you have breakouts, etc.)
  • A realistic idea of the risk of transmission to them. Remember, no matter what you do to mitigate the risk, there is always a chance of asymptomatic spread that you need to make sure they’re aware of.

Here’s an example of how you might share the information with someone.

“Hey, there’s something I’ve been meaning to share with you. I’m a huge fan of transparency in dating and I hope you are too. I wanted you to know that I have tested positive for HSV (herpes) before. I take medicine to reduce the chances of spread to another partner and I rarely have breakouts (times when transmission is more likely). I know this is probably something you weren’t expecting to hear, but I value honesty 🙂 I would really love to continue seeing you if you’d like, and we can explore more about what this means if you have any questions?”

Feel free to use that almost word-for-word if you want to and substitute in the information that is pertinent to you. It doesn’t have to be something you overcomplicate. If they’re the right person for you, they’ll be okay with it. If they’re not, then good thing you found out early in the relationship-building process!

Tips for Successful Herpes Dating

  • Honesty and transparent communication will always be the best courses of action.
  • Don’t let your diagnosis control your life. Yes, it’s not ideal. However, it does not mean you don’t have the same rights to love and romance as everyone else.
  • If you were just diagnosed, consider taking a short break from dating to make sure you’ve fully come to terms with understanding your diagnosis.
  • Consider joining online support communities where you can hear from other people who have gone through or are going through the same things as you.
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Author: Healthy Framework Team

The Healthy Framework team has a combined 50+ years of experience in the online dating industry. Collectively, the team has reviewed over 300 dating apps and is known as one of the leaders in the relationship advice and information space. The team's work has been featured on Zoosk, Tinder, The Economist, People Magazine, Parade, Women's Health, Her Campus, Fox, and more.