How to tell your partner
Recently I counseled a young woman who had herpes on how and what to tell her boyfriend of a few years about her condition.
She was terrified. First of all, she had never sought treatment. Until recently, she had been in denial about her condition. Luckily, she was smart enough to always use condoms and she never had intercourse with him when she had an outbreak.
However, she hadn’t told him about her condition, and she wanted to.
First I congratulated her on her decision to be honest with her sexual partner. That’s a courageous thing to do.
1. Brush up on the facts. It is much easier to tell your partner about your condition if you have a solid base of knowledge. You’ll be able to allay your partner’s fears and correct any misinformation he or she may have. You might want to have a brochure or pamphlet on hand.
2. Set the tone. Pick a good time to talk. This is not a discussion for an intimate moment. Choose a time when you are alone, with few distractions.
3. Be positive and calm. Let your partner know that you care, tell him or her the news in calm tones. If you act like it’s the end of the world, he may agree with you.
4. Don’t hog the conversation. Let your partner talk too. Encourage him or her to ask questions and have their say.
Probably the hardest part about the conversation is gauging your partner’s reaction. Realize that you can’t do this. Your partner may need time to think, may want to break up right away or he/she may take the news well. In any case, he/she has a right to his/her feelings and give him/her the space to think and express it.
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.