Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Monday, October 27, 2008

Navigating Your STD In the Dating Circus

No one wants to talk about it but the elephant in the room remains. Having an STD can be awful enough, but dealing with one within the context of dating can be downright hellish.

Why are STDs so awful? They’re not so bad because of the symptoms but because of the stigma the symptoms carry. The picture gets even worse when you consider how few people you feel comfortable disclosing this kind of information to. Because we often internalize the stigma society places on certain things, we come to develop shame. No one should feel shame when it comes to an STD. In many cases, you can get one by accident – no matter how careful you are. In other cases, you may contract something as a result of a bad decision you made.

Yes, we make bad decisions every day, yet the problem with some decisions is that the consequences of some are longer-lasting than others. If you have an STD, don’t allow yourself to fall into the shame trap. Learn about your STD, determine what to do to treat it, and move on with greater wisdom.

If you have an STD and you are trying to navigate the already difficult dating world, you owe it to your sexual partner to let him or her know that you have something as long as you plan on getting sexual. I understand that such disclosure is uncomfortable because of the stigma, but we are talking about plain old common decency.

If you don’t want to disclose this information, simply put off sexual play until your STD has been fully treated. If you have an STD that is longer lasting or perhaps even life-long, you’re going to have to disclose the truth sooner or later. My advice is to hold off getting sexual until you know your sexual partner well enough to determine if he or she is kind and respectful. Even in those situations, however, there is no guarantee that people will respond well to news they don’t like. In the end, the safest way to date is to do so with honesty and integrity, while protecting yourself at the same time.

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