I started talking to this guy and he was great—everything I could ask for and more. There’s just one problem: I have a sexually transmitted disease, and I was completely embarrassed and scared to tell him, especially after the way I have been treated in the past. I kept it to myself and continued to take care of myself.
One night, we were messing around and he went inside raw and my heart dropped. I told him about the STD the next day and all hell broke loose. I cry every night, and now that we don’t speak anymore, I have this cloud over my head because I miss him and wish this wasn’t my life. Should I call him or continue to give him his space?” —Anonymous
Give him his space.
I sympathize with how upset you are. You’re embarrassed about your sexually transmitted infection, which is a common feeling. And when you’ve been up-front with potential partners in the past, you’ve encountered a lot of rejection from people that you cared for and wanted to be accepted by. I understand why you would be scared to divulge your health status to new partners.
But you have to understand that your fear isn’t a valid excuse to put someone else’s health at risk, which is what you’ve done in this instance. You’ve indicated that you really care for this man, but what you’ve done says otherwise. It’s actually quite selfish. And scary.
Sex doesn’t just happen. There’s a buildup to it. You knew you had an STD that you hadn’t told him about when you began removing your clothes. But instead of spoiling the moment by stopping and explaining—which actually would have showed you cared for your partner by allowing him to make an informed decision about sex—you robbed him of that opportunity. Even just asking him to wear a condom would have been better than remaining silent.
I will assume that you apologized to him the next day when you told him about your STD and “all hell broke loose.” If you’ve done that, there’s no need to call him now.
But as you’re contemplating this event and seemingly still hoping that things can work out between you two in the long run, I wonder if you fully understand how awful this situation is. Good health is priceless, and you put his at risk. You’ve demonstrated to him in a very fundamental way that he cannot trust you. While I know you want him back, he would be very foolish to return—or even pick up the phone—given this set of circumstances. To be clear: It’s not because you have an incurable STD—but because you lied to him by omission and put him at risk.
There’s something else you should consider here: getting tested. You weren’t in a committed relationship with this man, and you two had obviously not been tested together, or he would have known about your STD. Something else that’s obvious is that he’s OK with having condomless sex with women he’s not even in a committed relationship with. Who knows how many other women he’s had sex with without a condom and what he may have been exposed to and exposed you to? Having one STD doesn’t prevent you from getting other ones.
So that your heartache isn’t in vain, learn something from this experience, such as how and when to have the difficult conversation about having an STD. The first time you’re talking to someone new and sex comes up, just throw it out there so everyone’s informed about what’s going on. Don’t announce it like a death sentence; be matter of fact and informed so that you can answer any questions about how to protect yourself and your partner.
Does the first sex conversation sound too soon? It isn’t. If you and the guy are comfortable enough to talk about sex, then you should be comfortable talking about the consequences and responsibilities that go along with it. And if you’re not comfortable enough to talk about your STD, then really, you shouldn’t be having sex.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “Your Bestie Slept With Your ‘Friend With Benefits’? Girl, Please”