Sores & bores"/>
I'm a 30-year-old gay man who's been single for a while, so I was very pleased when I met a new guy whom I really like. On our first date, we ended up back at his place, but as we were getting better acquainted, he said he felt compelled to tell me that he has herpes and had had a flare-up a couple days before, and thus he didn't feel safe kissing me. We managed to have fun regardless, but the notion of not being able to lock lips in the future is discouraging. So what conduct is safe and unsafe if I wanna stay herpes-free? I confess I don't know the first thing about this topic—could you give clueless readers like myself a quick A to Z of herpes?
Smitten, But Distant
My Dearest Smitten Kitten,
The first time I got a cold sore, I thought it was a zit. I've always been lucky in the skin department, so growing a big red spot on my face was strange. It was even stranger when it morphed into a gigantic oozing sore and I fell ill. Fearing my face was about to fall off, I grudgingly went to the doctor. She informed me that I had oral herpes. It had probably lain dormant for years until this outbreak was triggered by stress. She assured me it wasn't the down-under variety, told me not to kiss anyone till it was gone, and wrote me a 'script for Zovirax.
Let's just assume that your potential Prince Charming has herpes simplex virus type 2 (genital). Did you know that approximately one out of every four people has genital herpes? So if you divide that by the number of boys you've already had sex with, odds are you've encountered it before; you just weren't with someone conscientious enough to tell you. It's also always possible that they didn't even know they had it. Genital herpes is a viral infection that lives in the nerve cells. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, tons of people who test positive for genital herpes but have no symptoms carry the virus in their genitalia, unwittingly spreading it to their special friends and loved ones.
Of course, you're using condoms, and using them carefully can reduce the risk of herpes infection—but the risk is still there. Obviously, as your man seems to heed, sexual contact during outbreaks should be verboten. Sounds like this boy's a keeper—no sense letting a couple lesions get between you.
I'm your average independent, baggage-free thirty-something girl—lots of college, ambition, and debt, waiting tables downtown. My problem is that I seem to be attracted to the only ones I can't have—suit-wearing power-monger types. Guys that don't give me the time of day. Guys that aren't even necessarily cool—in fact, mostly geeky nerds who look good in Armani. I always wind up breaking all The Rules to get with these guys. I end up feeling like an idiot, wondering what in hell I was thinking. In my quest to land these elusive, fastidious jerks, I stomp all over the hearts and feelings of regular Joes who really are interested. Should I just settle for the best Ralph Kramden and leave the Errol Flynns for fantasy material?
You and I have very different definitions of "dork." In my world, nerds don't wear Armani, nor do they power- monger. The men you're describing are yuppies. You might think they're geeks because they don't have sideburns or chain wallets; but rest assured, they're yuppies, and the thing about yuppies is they stick with their own. It doesn't matter that you're smart and beautiful and just waiting tables till something better comes along—to them, you're the help. You can get around this by infiltrating their world—start dressing like their female cohorts and hanging out at upscale bars. Wrassle your fine booty into a pair of sheer tan panty hose. Do NOT tell them how you pay your rent—murmur something about the trust Great Grandmumsy left behind. I'm certain once you completely sublimate anything remotely interesting and unique about yourself, you'll nab one of those buffoons—but if they're your idea of Errol Flynn, I'll gladly stick with Ralph.
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