Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Lie About My STD Test Results?”

From the forums:

liar

I’ve been engaged for a few years now. Recently, my fiancée tested positive for HSV-1 after not showing any symptoms, and it being close to 10 years since she had unprotected sex with anyone else. She was very confused and discouraged when she starting having issues, she was tested, and it was positive. Despite the doctor telling her there was not much she could have done since she never displayed symptoms, and it can lay dormant for years on end, and 85% of the population has the virus, she has been really hard on herself since she made every attempt to practice safe sex in her life. She has been feeling horrible, worried I may find her “gross” and maybe somehow angry at her for bringing this into our relationship.

We’re engaged, so I don’t really care. We’ve been having unprotected sex for well over a year now and will obviously continue to do so into our marriage. Either way, we both decided I should get tested just to see, as well as to make sure it wasn’t something I passed to her. Well, tests came back negative (for both Type 1 and 2). One of the things that I told her to help her feel better about her situation was that we didn’t know where she got it, and it was quite possible she got it from me so she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. I told her it was no one’s “fault” if one gave it to the other, regardless of who it was.

I don’t really want to tell her I tested negative because I’m worried she will feel even worse and start blaming herself or not feel sexy in front of me anymore (which was an issue for about a week). But I am having the hardest time convincing myself to lie to her and tell her I’m positive. There are only two people in the world I have never found myself able to lie to: my mother and my fiancée (not that I lie to everyone else on a daily basis, but you get the idea). Anyway, I’m curious about your thoughts or advice on this issue. — Pants on Fire

Absolutely do not lie to your fiancée about your test results. I’m not saying it’s never okay to tell a white lie to someone you love, but there’s a difference between telling your fiancée that you love her Chicken Cacciatore and telling her you tested positive for an STD when, in fact, you tested negative. For one thing, she could find out the truth one day and feel foolish that you felt the need to lie to her or feel angry with you for being dishonest. That anger may even open up old wounds from the early days of her diagnosis. She may see your lie as confirmation that she’s “gross” and “unsexy.” Or, you may break up one day and she may use the false information — what she believe to be the truth — against you. I know that’s not fun to think about, but anything is possible.

And that brings me to a question: why have you two been engaged “for a few years”? Do you mean, like, engaged to be engaged? Or have you actively been planning a wedding this whole time? I know of couples who get engaged and just stay “engaged” indefinitely, with no real plans to ever marry. They think of engagement as one step above just dating, as a way of showing their commitment without the pomp and circumstance (and hassle) of making it legal. But you talk about a future married life in a way that makes me think you really do have plans to tie the knot eventually. Whatever your reasons for waiting so long, it might be worth reiterating to your partner how committed you are to her, how much you want to spend your life with her, and how a little something like herpes, which is incredibly common, isn’t going to change the love you have for her, the plans you’ve made together, or the dreams you have.

Be honest with your fiancée, be prepared for her to be embarrassed, hurt, and angry, and then take some time together to learn as much as you can about HSV-1, how it may affect your sex life, and what you can do to continue enjoying each other, both physically and emotionally, so that you can move your relationship forward. I think you may find that once the initial shock and shame subsides, this could actually bring you much closer. But you both need to be honest and open for that to happen. Good luck.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

83 comments… add one
  • avatar

    oldie April 18, 2013, 9:26 am

    Tell the truth. It’s too important to lie about. Also, you do need to protect yourself in future, when your fiance has an active outbreak. The lie will prevent you from doing that and then you may be resentful if you catch herpes. I don’t agree with Wendy that your fiancee using your claim of having HIV against you in future is a worry. Still, don’t lie. You need to discuss this and plan honestly. It also strikes me as weird that you are engaged for years, but then I was only engaged for five months. Once we decided to get married, we wanted to just be married.

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    • avatar

      Sasa April 18, 2013, 9:34 am

      He can’t really protect himself from getting HSV-1 from his fiancee – it can be transmitted to kisses etc.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow April 18, 2013, 11:04 am

        She has genital HSV-1. I know this has been clarified further down but I thought it would be helpful info to have at the top of the thread for clarification.

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      • avatar

        Sasa April 18, 2013, 11:09 am

        Is genital HSV-1 different from “face” HSV-1? Or is it the same virus, just appearing at a different place?

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:19 am

        Per my knowledge, same virus, different place. I’ve read of outbreaks on the eyes, nose, pretty much anywhere there is soft tissue.

        I’ve had “herpies like” outbreak that cover basically my entire face. Thankfully it never got to the blister/scab stage as I started a Valtrex regimin hours after the first symptoms popped up- but that’s what the doctor used to describe it. A herpie like or herpies related outbreak. Litterally all over my face. The day before Thanksgiving.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:23 am

        Wow, never knew that. How did you know it wasn’t just a bad case of acne?
        A few Christmases ago, I had the worst acne outbreak of my life. I will usually get one huge cystic one, but that time I had at least a dozen. My face hurt so much, it was all swollen, just awful looking.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:32 am

        I’ve had really bad acne, I was on Acutane for like 18 months I had such bad acne.

        The bumps where also really different, like raised with no redness a very distinct circle/bubble of clear liquid. Rather than a pimple which is usually red and if there is visible fluid its not clear. It was disgusting. I’ve had similar little bubbles with clear liquid appear on my lips occasionally, but I never get the crust/scab that typically happens with cold sores. I’m just a medical mystery!

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      • avatar

        Sasa April 18, 2013, 11:25 am

        So if it’s the same virus, the fact that she had an outbreak on her genitals doesn’t really matter. I mean besides the fact that there’s an additional body part where he could theoretically get it from. Still true that he could also get it from her face, or somebody else’s face, at any time.

        And the full face outbreak sucks!

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  • avatar

    Sasa April 18, 2013, 9:27 am

    I just read the forum thread. Do I understand correctly that the guy got tested because they didn’t know if her outbreak was caused by herpes type 1 (which she already knew she had) or by type 2? (You can get type 1 outbreaks on your genitals, but I think it’s rare, much more commonly caused by type 2). That’s the only way for me to make sense of the idea that they wanted to find out if he could have passed on something to her. I mean she already knew she had had type 1 forever, just without any outbreaks, so the idea that he could have passed that to her just makes no sense. (Then again I don’t understand why she didn’t just get tested herself, too – or did she? This is getting complicated). So if the purpose was to find out if he had type 2 – because he could have passed that on to her – then I understand a bit better the omission of telling her he is also negative for type 1. There is nothing he could give her, only something he could catch from her – something that 85% of the population already have and that he could also get from getting a kiss from his aunt. Given that, it IS kind of pointless for them to know that he’s negative and she’s not. Nevertheless, I still think it’s better to just tell her he’s negative for both types, especially if she is freaking out, because it would allow for an open conversation about how this is not really a big deal at all.

    And I think he corrected himself regarding the long engagement somewhere in the thread. Apparently the few years referred to the relationship as a whole.

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    • avatar

      Sasa April 18, 2013, 9:32 am

      Ugh, I misunderstood. So she didn’t know she had HSV-1 before this outbreak and he possibly could have given HSV-1 to her, although it’s really hard to see why that would matter. And if he doesn’t want to protect himself from HSV-1, it didn’t make much sense to even get tested for it.

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  • theattack

    theattack April 18, 2013, 9:29 am

    I can’t even do this again. Too frustrating.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow April 18, 2013, 10:16 am

      Haha. I think I’ve said all I can say on this matter. I was actually expecting Wendy to address this one! Thanks, Wendy!

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    • avatar

      MMcG April 18, 2013, 10:22 am

      Word:)

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass April 18, 2013, 9:30 am

    Lying is a terrible way to deal with conflicts or upsetting situations in your relationship. Marriage takes a whole lot more communication skills than avoiding the problem. Marriage is a commitment to not take the easy way out. If you would seriously rather lie than help your fiancé through her coming to grips with an upsetting medical diagnosis then you are absolutely not ready for marriage. It would be good for her to talk this through with a therapist and it would do both of you good to do a premarital preparation course.

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  • avatar

    csp April 18, 2013, 9:31 am

    Ok, seriously, it is just cold sores. Alot of people have them and cold sores can be passed by sharing a drink with someone. or kissing someone. She needs to get over herself.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 9:32 am

      He did clarrify that it was HSV-1 appearing in the genital region which is possible.

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      • avatar

        csp April 18, 2013, 1:50 pm

        But some people get really caught up in the “herpes” thing. It is a label. If she just reframes this, she will be fine. If it was dorment for that long, she might have one outbreak then never again.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 9:31 am

    well, I pretty clearly shared my opinion in the forum but I think it’s worth saying again.

    It is never okay to lie to your sexual partner about your STD testing or test results. NEVER. If you can’t handle an honest conversation about testing status, then you shouldn’t be having sex.

    (Also,that whole “think you know whats best” but “protect your partner” thing is bullshit.)

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  • avatar

    Sasa April 18, 2013, 9:36 am

    I think in my country (Western European) almost no one ever gets tested for HSV-1. Same for HPV. That might have solved their problem.

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser April 18, 2013, 9:46 am

    I have had HSV1 for years. From time to time, I get fever blisters on my mouth so I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. My husband of 25 years doesn’t have it. It comes from kissing, right? So why is she so upset? She wasn’t allowed to kiss anyone before she met you? (I’m obviously kidding). So my husband and I refrain from kissing when I have an outbreak. So what. It’s really not a big deal.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:09 am

      He clarrified in the forums that her HSV-1 outbreaks are in the genital region. My fiance too has the oral outbreaks (I do not, we refrain durig outbreaks etc), but there is such a stigma relating to genital herpies (HSV-1 or HSV-2) which is most likely why she is freaking out. I do agree that it’s not that big of a deal, but he shouldn’t lie.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:18 am

    ” I know of couples who get engaged and just stay “engaged” indefinitely, with no real plans to ever marry. They think of engagement as one step above just dating, as a way of showing their commitment without the pomp and circumstance (and hassle) of making it legal. ”

    Is that a bad thing? Because to be honest, I’ve been thinking about doing this. Not because I don’t want to get married, but I don’t want to have a wedding. I know, I know, I don’t have to have a big one…but I really would.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:26 am

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing persay. But I don’t see the point. To me, being engaged means you’re actively planning to get married with in a definitive amount of time (1 or 3 years maybe).

      Go to the court house and have a civil ceremony and dinner at a restaurant after. It is 110% wonderful to do a wedding that way. (As opposed to the nuts pretty pretty princess day.) Why wouldn’t you want the legal benefits of getting married? Plus it’s not that hard to marry, specially if you’re not changing your name. One form and $75 in PA.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:33 am

        One of the problems with that is that I would want to marry in a church, which you cannot (from my understanding) do so quickly and easily. Maybe it isn’t that big of a deal though to me. Idk.
        The other thing is our immediate families alone are 15 people, and I’m very close with my extended family, as is Peter. There just is no way we could not invite them, even if just to a dinner, which would bring the number to a crazy amount.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:35 am

        The idea of all eyes on me makes me shake too. 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:42 am

        Yeah, I’ve heard getting married in the Catholic church takes like 6 months- I have no advice on that point. Our immediate family is…16 so I understand. And we’re close with the extended too. You could just have a BBQ, even do it after your civil ceremony (and don’t invite the clan to that).

        The thought of 150 people staring at me gives me night sweats. I’m dreading standing up and saying vows for that reason.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ April 19, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Seriously, you probably won’t even notice the audience on the wedding day. Keep your eyes on the prize – your husband – the whole time and it’s as simple as that. After all, you’re saying the vows to each other, not to the onlookers. At almost all the weddings I’ve been to as a guest, I couldn’t even hear the vows. I think most people will expect you to be in your own little world during the ceremony and no one’s going to be all mad that you didn’t acknowledge the audience. (If they are… pfffft.)

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      • avatar

        Elle Marie April 18, 2013, 11:23 am

        It really depends on the church and the faith – I know from friends who have had religious ceremonies that many of them met a few times with their pastors/priest prior to the wedding, to discuss why they are planning to marry and receive guidance. Catholocism tends to have more stringent guidelines (and a more intensive pre-marital counseling schedule) to have a religious ceremony.

        There are also many chapels that will allow you to have your own religious (or non-religious officiant) preside over the wedding, depending on where you are looking to get married. You can certainly have a religious ceremony in a church-like setting (or an actual church, though many will only allow weddings for their own parishioners, they are most likely exceptions to this) without such an intensive process. If you have time or the inclination, check out A Practical Wedding ) – they were my lifeline while I was wedding planning. Lots of grounded, practical advice about how to have a wedding that works for you and your partner.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:25 am

        thanks!

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      • avatar

        Temperance April 18, 2013, 2:05 pm

        I only paid $50 and did the super-special Quaker license in PA. I wish more states had the Quaker self-marry license.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 2:08 pm

        That’s what we are getting (I’m from PA and Quaker hehe) but our country website says $75 now. Bummer.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny April 18, 2013, 10:42 am

      I did exactly what GG described and it was great. We live in the Midwest, as do our immediate families. If we were to have had a “real” wedding, our extended families would have had to fly in from NY/NJ and various parts of Europe, we would have felt like we’d need to have something a little better than a backyard barbeque to justify all their flights and expenses, his family don’t speak English and mine only speak English, our families are different religions, and frankly we would rather spend that money on something we would actually enjoy rather than one stressful day. So once we’d been engaged for about a year and a half and realized the big wedding thing was not happening, we went down to city hall on a Wednesday, had a thirty second ceremony by a justice of the peace and went and had a nice dinner. At the end of the day we were still married and that really was the most important part.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:43 am

        Was your family disappointed they weren’t there though? I know mine would be.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:46 am

        Some one is going to have an oppinion no matter what you do (pretty pretty princess or courthouse). You have to do what makes you and your partner happiest.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:47 am

        You’re right. I do like the idea of no one at the ceremony, but only have them come for the party part.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 18, 2013, 10:50 am

        Too true. We had pressure coming from both sides. There were people in our families who thought we had to have a big wedding, and there are people who think it’s a waste and that we’re pretentious assholes for doing it. You can’t please everyone (or really anyone), so don’t even try.

        Also LBH, it is really sad to hear that you would rather sacrifice getting married (which I understand you want to do, right?) than to plan a small wedding or risk upsetting someone over a courthouse wedding. It just doesn’t seem worth it long-term.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:55 am

        I know, its really dumb. As I’ve been typing, I’m thinking to myself how dumb I sound.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:59 am

        It’s okay 🙂 Weddings make 99% of people think/act a little nutty.

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      • avatar

        MMcG April 18, 2013, 1:16 pm

        Word.

        (and yes, that will be the sum of my commenting on this thread after all the forum activity + wedding PTSD)

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      • FireStar

        FireStar April 18, 2013, 1:37 pm

        I, for one, am loving it. Makes me smile every time.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny April 18, 2013, 11:03 am

        They were a bit, but in the oh, I wanted to come to the wedding 🙁 Well, congratulations! way, not the HOW DARE YOU NOT INVITE ME way. I think most of my family were just relieved I wasn’t living in sin anymore. I actually was a little surprised how cool everyone was with it. Kind of an ego bruise, but I’m not really complaining. 🙂

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:06 am

        Haha, I’m sure a few would be relieved I’m “an honest woman” now. My adorable grandpa, the one with alzheimers, will sometimes have a clearer day mentally, and ask about when Peter is going to make an honest woman out of me, and then reminds me not to play hard to get, because men don’t like that.
        I think my family would have the same disappointment as yours, not angry at all, just wishing they could’ve been there.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy April 18, 2013, 11:04 am

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I can understand why people would go this route.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:06 am

        Chill everyone! Wendy approves 🙂

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser April 18, 2013, 10:23 am

    Sorry. I missed that (they were in the genital region).Still–not pleasant but not the end of the world. PS. Ouch! They must hurt because the blisters on the mouth sure do.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones April 18, 2013, 10:25 am

    I am in the medical field. Some people, even if they come in contact with HSV 1 or 2 are just not susceptible to it. LW may be one of the lucky ones so that is a blessing. I caught HSV in the 1980’s (from a boyfriend who was supposedly monogamous with me… that is another story) and was always careful and now with enough self care I have not had an outbreak in over 10 years! My husband, who was pretty nonchalant about HSV, and with whom I have been having unprotected sex for at least 17 years, has never caught it. I think he is also one of the lucky ones. She should really lighten up about it and work with a holistic doctor to see about getting so healthy that she does not have as many outbreaks.

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    • Jess

      Jess April 18, 2013, 11:33 am

      Thanks for this. I wondered about just this. I had a long-term relationship where my boyfriend clearly had HSV-1 or whatever is the type associated with the mouth. His sister also had it. We were together for years and he always worried that I would catch it but I never did. I figured I was lucky enough to not be susceptible to it. No idea if that would also make me immune to HSV-2. Luckily, I don’t plan on finding out since I am about to get married and we’ve both had STD tests done after we met (when I developed a mysterious infection early in our relationship and we were trying to identify the cause).

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  • avatar

    mainer April 18, 2013, 10:30 am

    Weeeell, I’m tempted to play devils advocate here and say I can understand a little bit where the guy was coming from and his train of thought on the matter, but I saw the gigantic new asshole you all ripped him on the forum thread, so I’ll just leave it at “yeah, whatever you all say.”

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:34 am

      haha, I get where the guy is coming from. I don’t think he’s the devil for trying to shield her from something she’s already being irrational about.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 18, 2013, 10:38 am

      I could have had a much more friendly discussion about his decision if he hadn’t been so damn defensive and self-righteous. I think he had good intentions for sure, but he was completely unwilling to discuss the thing that he wrote in about for advice. Please don’t be afraid to join the discussion, mainer!

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 10:45 am

      You know, I’m honestly interested in where this guy is coming from…because I don’t get it. I can not see the value is being dishonest and “sheltering” your life partner, from something that is really good news. I mean he is negative…that is good news. I just don’t get the point in telling a half truth.

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      • avatar

        Sasa April 18, 2013, 11:22 am

        I think the point is that she was feeling gross (irrationally, but nevertheless) and the way that they had talked about it before – that if they both had it there was no way to even know who gave it to whom (again, irrational, because it doesn’t matter who gave it to whom in this case) – made him think that the more desirable result for her would be for him to test positive as well. So when he didn’t he omitted that information and let her believe that he might still have given it to her, making her feel less gross. I think it’s a way to allow her to save face and feel more comfortable. I wouldn’t have done it because I think it’s unnecessary and her reaction was irrational from the beginning, and having an honest conversation could have had her rethink the stigma she puts on having a STD. But I can certainly see his thought process.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:39 am

        I don’t think her reaction was irrational to start, I’d be freaked out if an STD suddenly popped up after being monogomous for 5 years and feel a bit yucky about myself. But, it’s not his decision to make. Like I just don’t get why someone would think they get to “save face” for another person, or be dishonest to make them more comfortable (when we’re talking about things as serious as sexual health). Once you cross that line and start sharing bodily fluids…you have to be open and honest and accepting and understanding, blah blah blah. Being dishonest is a terrible foundation for a relationship, especially as this virus doesn’t go away and this could come up again and again in the future. (Yes, it could go dormant but.)

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    • avatar

      Eagle Eye April 18, 2013, 11:21 am

      Heh, yeah see I could NEVER do this to my boyfriend BUT I could see my boyfriend doing this to me, and I’m not super offended by it.

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser April 18, 2013, 10:31 am

    Sue Jones– what kind of “self-care”? I didn’t know there was anything you could do to prevent outbreaks.

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    • avatar

      Sue Jones April 18, 2013, 2:50 pm

      Eat a diet that is higher in lysine rather than arginine ( more animal protein, less nuts and chocolate and grains). My condition significantly improved when I stopped being a vegetarian. Support the immune system with various herbs, vitamins. One would do well to work with a Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner or a naturopathic physician. That is a start.

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  • avatar

    Reader April 18, 2013, 10:35 am

    Wendy, why do you feel it necessary to invalidate someone’s relationship? You do that often, and it’s frustrating.

    (“And that brings me to a question: why have you two been engaged “for a few years”? Do you mean, like, engaged to be engaged? Or have you actively been planning a wedding this whole time? I know of couples who get engaged and just stay “engaged” indefinitely, with no real plans to ever marry. They think of engagement as one step above just dating, as a way of showing their commitment without the pomp and circumstance (and hassle) of making it legal.”) You also often do it when people write in about online relationships. They DO have a relationship, it’s just not one that they should be putting all their eggs into until they know that they are compatible in person, too.

    But let me get back to this one… Is the only way to show commitment to get legally married? What about those whose marriages are not legally recognized? When you make statements about commitments needing to be legal, or with a wedding, it can alienate the people who have no options to get legally married or those who don’t *need* a marriage certificate to show their commitment. Not everyone has a right to choose, and for those who do, they shouldn’t be criticized for choosing something different than you.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 10:58 am

      I really didn’t think she was saying that as though it was a bad thing, but rather just something to think about.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:02 am

        Also, like someone said above, most people don’t get engaged just to remain engaged forever. The whole purpose of it is to end up marrying. So it is weird to get engaged and never marry.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar April 18, 2013, 11:47 am

        Such an odd comment to make – engaged means engaged to be married in the context of relationships. No one takes out the ring and says “will you be engaged to me?” The question usually is “will you marry me?” You want just a commitment with no marriage – hell you want a commitment while wearing a ring – cool – but that isn’t engaged. Engagement contemplates marriage – historically it was actually a promise to marry that you could sue on if unfulfilled.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle April 18, 2013, 11:00 am

      But this couple is “engaged” which implies a marriage/wedding is coming. I think Wendy is just commenting that “engaged” is more than a word, it’s supposed to mean you’re actively planning a wedding. Otherwise, don’t get engaged.

      If two people are fine dating or showing their commitment in others ways besides marriage, I think Wendy and everybody else thinks that’s grand. Marriage, around here, is usually only referred to as the ultimate commitment when an LW has already expressed an interest in it, I think (& saying you’re “engaged” expresses that interest, even if they’re failing to make concrete wedding plans in the moment)

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:03 am

      While I do agree with your points relating to choosing not to marry.

      People write into Wendy for her opinion. She can have and publish what ever oppinion she chooses, invalidating or validating. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy April 18, 2013, 11:05 am

      I actually know several couples, both gay and straight, who are in loving, committed relationships and aren’t married. The difference is that they either can’t legally marry or don’t plan to marry. If someone gets engaged with the intention to marry and lets several years pass without getting married, my asking “why?” isn’t invalidating anything, ESPECIALLY in the context of a relationship advice column where people write in to get, you know, advice on a relationship issue. Asking a question about something that seems a little odd — and, again, it’s not odd that they aren’t married; it’s odd that they have set the intention to marry and then didn’t go through with it — isn’t criticism, it’s trying to unpack the issue the person writing in for advice is facing.

      And, again, if I’m not clear enough about this, I don’t care one iota if a couple decides not to get married. I don’t think it means they’re necessarily less committed than a couple who does marry, particularly if they can’t legally do so. But if a couple gets engaged to marry, that’s making a statement, part of which is, “We believe in marriage and think it is the right step for us.” But if years go by and the marriage never comes to fruition, that statement isn’t really completed. I wouldn’t be doing my job as an advice columnist if I didn’t ask what the reason for that was.

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      • Jess

        Jess April 18, 2013, 11:34 am

        Well said!

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      • avatar

        MMcG April 18, 2013, 2:53 pm

        Word 😉

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  • Diablo

    Diablo April 18, 2013, 10:48 am

    One of the reasons that i have been able to be very truthful to my wife, at least about all the important things, is that I am the worst liar in the world and she knows instantly when I am keeping something important from her. i wish I were a good person who told the truth because it’s the right thing to do, but I’m just a lousy liar. Honesty is the best policy. The consequences of facing the truth are always less than facing the lie later on.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay April 18, 2013, 10:55 am

    I groaned a little when I saw this was posted. As everyone who read the forum post knows, he already sort of maneuvered around telling her by being vague and saying he didn’t have anything that she didn’t have. I think that’s OK. It had to be very clear to her that he wasn’t answering yes or no about whether he had HSV-1, and she didn’t ask for clarification, so she must either not care or know that he was trying to avoid the topic. From what I understand, the testing was more about checking for other stuff, since him having this wouldn’t really matter or not, and as I said in the forums, unless he has something that affects her or other major health issues, I don’t think it’s her right to know every last detail of his medical record. Now, I don’t think he should explicitly lie if she asks him outright, though, so that’s where I’d draw the line.

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      Sasa April 18, 2013, 11:15 am

      Yeah, the way he formulated it, it had to be really obvious that the HSV-1 results weren’t mentioned.

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    ChemE April 18, 2013, 10:59 am

    If I were the fiance, I’d feel conflicted. 1 – I’d feel relieved I didn’t give it to you, and 2 – gross that I have a disease and could still give it to you.
    Now, I don’t know much about this particular virus/disease/whatever.

    HOWEVER, the biggest issue, for me, is the intentional hiding of information. Yes, this may or may not be a big deal, hell it may never come up again. BUT if it did come up, and I learned that you covered up your sexual medical status from me, I would seriously wonder what else you could hide from me.

    Now, I understand wanting to spare someone’s feelings, I do. I don’t like hurting peoples feelings, and I’ve been known to omit certain information knowing it would make someone feel better. But it usually ended up coming out anyway and then I looked even worse than it needed to be.
    You expect her to react a certain way to this information, so you try to hide it/omit key info/however to keep her from knowing the truth so she can react in a way that suits you. If and when she finds out you misled her, she’s going to react worse than you expected. Maybe not, but you’re compounding stuff here – the results she has to deal with and the fact that you didn’t tell her the whole truth.

    And look, in the forum you discussed not having sex when a breakout occurs – don’t you think she’s going to feel worse thinking you both have this thing and yet she’s the only one that has any breakouts? I mean are you going to make up times when you have breakouts? Come on, you have to give her more credit that she may figure out you status anyway.

    She deserves to know the situation and your status. Otherwise she may wonder what the hell else you haven’t been telling her to spare her feelings. And yes, I realize, maybe this is the only thing you have and will have ever kept from her, but she doesn’t know that. She only knows you hid this one thing and that puts doubt in her mind.

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      Lindsay April 18, 2013, 2:42 pm

      I don’t know, if it’s been dormant for her for that long and he clearly never explicitly told her he had it, then it really shouldn’t give her that much pause if she never sees an outbreak. It should just confirm what I assume she’s thinking: that his strategic way of ignoring that part of the results in his answer means he doesn’t have it.

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    comeoneileen April 18, 2013, 11:04 am

    I aslo commented on the forum thread saying that I think people were being a little harsh on the LW. I think what the poster was trying to say is that if they had both tested positive after her diagnosis, there would legitimately be no way of ever knowing who caught it first and “brought” it into the relationship because even safe sex carries some degree of risk of coming in contact with something. There wouldn’t be as much of a cause for anyone to feel “dirty” or “gross” because they would both be on equal footing so to speak. Unfortunately STDs really do carry a stigma, and since the fiancee already sounds like she is being really hard on herself about this, being the one “responsible” is really going to throw her for a loop. It seems like it would be easier for her to handle the news if there was solidarity in the fact that they both tested positive and there wasn’t a way to determine who gave it to whom. And speaking honestly as someone who recently had an HSV scare down there (turned out to be cysts), I would have felt the same way.

    Later on in the forum post, the LW elaborated that there was some doubt about the accuracy of the test because it might have been done too soon if he had contracted it for the first time during this most recent outbreak. I think this clarifies his intentions even more. It sounds like he wanted to keep his answer vague because he was not totally convinced that the negative result was accurate because he got tested so soon after being exposed. I can understand why he would not want to tell her for sure that he is negative yet only to have ended up actually contracting it during her outbreak and just not have tested positive yet. After all even if he had only gotten in recently, it doesn’t change the fact that he will have it forever now. Why is it such a huge deal to omit when exactly he contracted it for the sake of maintaining their healthy sex life?

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      GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:09 am

      But he doesn’t have it…So he is being dishonest to his life partner about his status. That is the big heal.

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        comeoneileen April 18, 2013, 11:28 am

        I’m just going by the additional information the poster said on the forums. His doctor told him that if he had contracted something within the last three months it might still be too soon for him to test positive. I’m not a doctor, but from what I understand it can take a bit of time for your body to build up enough antibodies to test positive for something. I’m sorry if I’m not being clear in my writing, I swear it makes sense in my head haha. But what I’m trying to say is that if the test was done too soon after the time of exposure, there is a small chance that the result was not accurate yet and he actually may have contracted it during her recent outbreak but just not have enough of the virus in his bloodstream to test positive yet.

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      • Jess

        Jess April 18, 2013, 11:39 am

        I follow you but if that’s true, it still reinforces the fact that he got it recently which confirms it was she that gave it to him. I don’t think it would reassure his fiancee if she finds out that he doesn’t have it YET but there’s a chance she could still give it to him. As Sue mentioned below, some people are not susceptible to HSV. I believe I am in that group, thankfully. So she likely got it elsewhere and he likely is “immune” to it.

        If I were him, I might go the route of saying, “It turns out that I don’t have it and that I am a likely one of those people who is resistant to it which means there is still a big chance I WAS exposed to it before you (since 80% of people ARE), there’s just no way of knowing because I wouldn’t contract it”

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        GatorGirl April 18, 2013, 11:43 am

        Yeah, I mean what you’re saying is possible. But I still don’t think it’s a reason to be dishonest about his status NOW.

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    iseeshiny April 18, 2013, 11:10 am

    Just tell her. She can handle it. Sure, finding out initially threw her for a loop, but you said she’s recovered from that, and if you make it clear to her that you really don’t find this a big deal you guys will be fine. You’re overthinking this.

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      lets_be_honest April 18, 2013, 11:14 am

      Plus it might make her think he’s a really honest person, and caring…if she views it the way I do.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet April 18, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Lying about testing negative for HSV would do absolutely nothing to make her feel better, but you know what would? Telling her that you want to be with her forever and never plan on having sex with anyone else, so who cares if she has HSV? Letting her know that it’s not a big deal to you. Comforting her when and if she has an outbreak in the future (isn’t the 1st outbreak usually the worst one?). Going about your lives.

    It’s a mild dermatological disease that up until a pharmaceutical marketing campaign in the 1970’s, nobody freakin’ cared about.

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    cdobbs April 18, 2013, 1:50 pm

    as a microbiologist i can tell you that the theory now is that most people on earth have contracted HSV…most people’s immune systems can deal with the virus and so will go on to be negative for the virus…but some, like your fiance will continue to carry the virus and come down with syptoms…nothing to be embarrassed about

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      John Rohan April 18, 2013, 2:09 pm

      Can you explain this to me?? The LW claims their doctor told them that 85% of the population has it.

      But according to the CDC, the rate is only 16%. That’s a HUGE discrepancy:

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        cdobbs April 18, 2013, 2:37 pm

        I just know what I learned while I was doing my PhD in microbiology…they can estimate that most, if not all people have been exposed to the virus…once exposed some people may never show symptoms…others may have one outbreak and then never get symptoms again…and others will have recurring symptoms…outbreaks can be triggered by stress, sun exposure, weakened immune system or other causes…i believe the virus lies dormant in nerve cells and can be like that for the rest of your life…i think the 16% stated by the CDC may be people who show symptoms of the disease?…they think other viruses may be similar such as HPV where most people can be exposed and never develop disease…my field is in bacterial genetics however…so I am in no way an expert

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow April 18, 2013, 2:42 pm

        That particular article is only talking about HSV-2 and LW’s girlfriend has HSV-1. Estimates on the rates on HSV-1 infections are higher, but I’m not sure if it’s actually as high as 85%. Then again, it’s estimated that the majority of people who have antibodies for it don’t even know it. So who knows what it actually is.

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser April 18, 2013, 2:57 pm

    Sue Jones– less chocolate? I don’t know… Seriously, thank you.

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