Dear Chump Lady,
It is now 7 months since D-Day. In 7 years, ex-boyfriend cheated with four women and only now “shows” some remorse over “hurting me.” However, there seems to be no acknowledgement over the health consequences of his affairs. At some point, when I expressed being upset over the STD he gave me, all he said was that he could have given it to me at any point.
Now I am ready to go out and date. However, I feel no one is going to want me as I have this STD, although common and not life-threatening at all, the lack of education on the subject means I will be prejudiced against and I really don’t want to segregate myself by using a dating site for people with STDs. Obviously if I got close enough to anyone, I would tell them before having sex that I have this, even if I have no symptoms but as there is a small chance, even with protection, of infection.
This is the part I am struggling the most with, accepting I have it, and that unlike him, I have a responsibility to let people know. (He knows but doesn’t tell or take precautions).
I feel that I will get rejected, judged, and that I will end up alone. I really need some advice. This is really bringing me down and I sometimes don’t feel like I should go out and meet anyone, why bother?
A Chump (AC)
Before I get to the STD, let me just say if you’re 7 months post-D-Day and I assume 7 months post-break up (but maybe not?) — it might be a bit soon to think about dating again. You had a 7-year relationship with a serial cheater. It’s pretty normal to be feeling incredibly depressed about the human race now — the whole I will get rejected, judged, and end up alone is also a byproduct of infidelity, not just STDs.
Yeah, so you got a twofer on whole feeling like damaged goods. Sorry.
All to say, if you’re feeling like “why bother?” maybe that’s a sign you need to spend some more time healing and less time perusing Match.com. Shore yourself up and invest more in your general awesomeness than your datability now. I think if you do that, the whole panicky feeling of THE PLAGUE! THE PLAGUE! will lessen.
But right… the plague… let’s get to that.
You didn’t mention which STD he gave you, leaving me to make an educated guess between HPV and herpes. If it’s HPV, well it’s as common as having opposable thumbs. Hopefully you got a less serious strain of it. Generally your immune system fights it off, although as we know it can result in warts or cervical cancer if you’re unfortunate. Get those regular pap smears! If it’s herpes, my understanding is that there are great meds for this, and you can be asymptomatic for years, or work around an outbreak.
It sucks. Hugely. But it’s not a death sentence nor do I think it makes you undateable. It will make you more sensitive when you get to the awkward STD conversation — hey, public service announcement — I hope everyone is having the Awkward STD Conversation (ASTDC)! — you know, where it’s about to get intimate and you have a handy, time-stamped copy of your last STD test.
An aside — if you’re dating and sleeping with people, you NEED to endure the ASTDC. Do it for several reasons — a) to inform your partner about your state of health and b) assess their character. Are they doing the same for you? Are they cavalier about your health? Their own health? Are they considerate? Careful? Will they assume that all responsibility for birth control belongs to you? (Jerk) Or do they carry condoms and aren’t afraid to use them?
This is all important information we can overlook in the moment at which we feel fabulously desirable with a passion that cannot be denied!
Deny it. Have the ASTDC first.
So, back to you, AC — if you’re willing to have that conversation you should be judged as a considerate person. One who does not make unilateral decisions about other people’s health. And I hope your partner is equally considerate. If he isn’t, then he’s not the person for you. Next!
It’s true, you may be rejected. But this can happen at any stage during dating, and it’s part and parcel of dating. He may reject you before, during, or after the ASTDC, but if he is a person of discernment, he will appreciate your honesty.
I think it is very likely, if you find a person who is really attracted to you, that he’ll accept that “small chance.” We all take risks when we date, there is no risk-free approach to finding love and sex. You have a treatable STD. You see that as an obstacle. Other people have things about them that they consider obstacles too. The single mom with three children. The guy with Parkinson’s. The veteran with PTSD.
The world is full of people who love and want to be loved. And it’s also full of horny people who want to get laid and will take their chances.
You’re not an impossible case. What you’re dealing with is another version of what ALL chumps deal with — paying the consequences for a cheater’s grotesque self indulgence. You could be the parent whose family home got foreclosed on when he left. You could be the dad paternity testing his kids. You’re screaming to the heavens what we all scream — It’s NOT FAIR! I don’t DESERVE THIS! Why did this happen to me when I didn’t do ANYTHING WRONG?!
Cheaters make unilateral decisions about our health and welfare. Major decisions that affect our lives, and can have irreparable consequences. This is why I hate the discourse that makes infidelity No Big Deal. Just a quick naughty. Just that sexy thing that edgy people do.
No, chumps get hurt. Cheaters endanger our lives and they fucking waste our precious time. We pay the consequences for actions we did not take.
He gave you an STD. Fuck him. Get regular medical care and be honest with your future partners — you would never be cavalier with their health the way he was with yours. Don’t let this keep you down and give up on love. It’s a shit sandwich and it’s not fair, but people overcome worse everyday. Be secure in the knowledge that you have values, you’re a good person, and you would never endanger anyone. That makes you a real catch — someone to cherish, not reject.