Love is defined as: an intense feeling of deep affection; a great interest and pleasure in something; and the list goes on.
On some level, we all can identify something or someone that we love. I love my family; although I may not always like them; the love I genuinely feel for them is undeniable.
Another thing I love are desserts; especially Applebee’s Triple Chocolate Meltdown. Even though, I hate what it does to my waistline and my conscience, I can’t deny that; when that microwaved chocolate cake with chocolate syrup center, drizzled with way too sweet white and dark chocolate, with the scoop of ice cream comes to my table; the outside world does not exist. From the first break of the cake as the chocolate oozes, and I try to repeatedly gather the perfect bite with just enough ice cream, to the final bite; I can undoubtedly say that I am in love; if only for 5 minutes. I can scream from the mountain top, the love I have for something that has probably, single handedly, been the cause of all the new diabetes diagnoses, since its inception. But telling someone I love them… Ugh! Can we just eat cake!
I felt your love for me early on. Maybe it was how often we spoke; or the fact that you always wanted to be around me. But, from the very beginning, when you first laid eyes on me; and I was in a threesome with two other men; I didn’t have to be anyone but myself. Sure, you didn’t love me that night, but after our first few dates, I was certain you soon would.
You said (actually texted) the words when I was going through a dark patch with my family. I knew you was going to say it before the message came through; and although it was great to know your true feelings; it did absolutely nothing to make the situation better. It just meant that you were going to be there for me, and that was enough.
The last time I said I love you was in 2013. In 2012, I met my now ex-boyfriend. We had connected on the dating app Badoo; I was so confident that he was the one, and that there would never be another. So, within a month of us online dating, before we even met in person; he told me he loved me and I told him back. We dated for just over a year before the once strong and undying love I had for him actually died. When I finally ended the relationship; he told me that I never really loved him. Hmm? I was certain that I did, in fact, love him, at some point during our relationship. I looked back at our pictures and they looked like love. I though back to all the times I cried for him, (I cry very easily, so maybe that’s not the best example). When I looked at all that I had done for him during our relationship, I knew that I wouldn’t have done any of it, if I didn’t love him. So, what the fuck was he talking about? How could tell me, the feelings that I had for him were never real? Then, years later, it finally hit me… His love was not my love.
My love isn’t the jump off a cliff, walk into the fire, sacrifice my life for you love; like his was. My love is practical yet whimsical. My love is stern, but it can also be pliable; it can be loud and it can be quiet, it can be suffocating and it can be distant. However, above all things, my love for another will never be stronger than the love I have for myself. I can love someone with all my might, but if that relationship no longer brings me joy, I have no problems walking away to be on my own.
So, after him, I reserved the declaration; because if tomorrow comes and I want to go back into my shell; it’s important to know what we shared was real and it was love, even if it didn’t and/or doesn’t last forever.
I was sitting at a jazz show, listening to the music being played. As the lady on the stage sang about love; it was in that moment I knew I loved you. It struck me as odd because I was at the performance to see one of my other partners perform; but, the thought of you ran through my mind and found a home in my heart. I started to get warm all over, it could’ve been the 3 drinks that I had; but then it happened again. When I was walking down the street talking to myself (as I sometimes do); Boom! There you were again. I tried to apply logic and reason, I picked the way I felt about you apart, I dissected it like a dead frog on a metal table, and it still came back – love.
I could drive myself mad trying to define and break down what it means to be in love while polyamorous, but I just know I love how I feel now. The love that we share doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s, because we are not like everyone else. I simply want to live and love in this feeling for as long as we’re meant to.
The first vibrator I ever purchased was the ever-infamous Rabbit. It may or may not have been on the heels of the Sex and the City episode; but, nonetheless, once I got home, I needed try it and see what all the fuss was about. Up until that point, all the pleasure I felt was either from resting in the bathtub and letting the water from the faucet pound down on my clit, or me rubbing it out in my room at night.
In the quiet of my room, I pulled out my battery-operated Rabbit, put a condom on it, and went to town. The sensation of the penis-shaped felt good; but it was the vibrations from the ears on my clit that brought me to ecstasy. It was that feeling alone that I would continue to chase for years. A few times I purchased items to help me engage my G-spot: silicone inserted vibrator, even a glass G-spot stimulator; but every time, I only ever had clitoral orgasms. Eventually, I stopped buying insertable devices and focused solely on my clit. I went through a series of pocket-sized vibrators: ones with changeable heads, and some with multiple speeds and vibrations. A few years ago, I happened into Babeland and purchased my Raines brand Vibrator. It was pretty, purple, had a multitude of patterns, and was quiet. She even came with a little pouch, with a lock and key. She held me down, then I had to replace her, and she was there for me for another year or two.
A year or two later, I was determined to have a G-spot orgasm. So, I returned back to Babeland where I bought my ($120) Fifi by Je Joue rechargeable vibrator. When I got home, I charged it up for a bit; after I took my shower, I washed it off, applied some lube and waited for the magic to happen. The sensations were far more advanced from when I used the rabbit and I was able to cum 5 times. But, all of them were only clitoral. The amazing sensations did nothing to bring me to a G-spot orgasms, and because of that I was twistedly disappointed. I had come to the conclusion in my early 20s that I was one of those women that would never have a G-spot orgasm, but I loved sex and oral so much that; I can’t miss what I never had. With that, I stopped caring for artificial objects in my vagina. I love fingers, tongues, and dicks; and that’s enough for me.
I loved my Fifi, but having to use the vagina insert, removed the fun for me, so I went back to my Raines vibrator. Then, I kept hearing about this thing called a Womanizer; it interested me because it was said that; the sucking mechanism was a totally new experience, not like other vibrators.
So, I returned back to Babeland and with some skepticism I said, hell with it, and made my purchase. I walked away with my ($99) Womanizer Liberty Clitoral Stimulator. When I got home, I read the instructions, and charged the device. Later that night, I laid back in my bed, applied some lube to my clit and fired her up.
The sensation was nothing I had ever experienced. I felt as if all the blood in my body was being drawn to my clit. I grabbed at my nipples as my legs trembled and my breathing grew deeper and heavier. With a final deep breath, my abs clenched, and my eyes rolling to the back of my head; I had my first Womanizer induced orgasm. My energy was depleted, but the whole ordeal may have only been 3 minutes. I looked up at my revolving ceiling fan and waited for my body to feel normal. I wanted to feel that sensation again; so, I spread my legs again and enjoyed the ride. Only this time, something felt different. Not only was my clit throbbing even harder this time, all my southern muscles lost control. I felt my orgasm building up and finally the release, followed by a steady stream of orgasmic fluids. It wasn’t a squirt; it was a juicy ooze. My sheets were soaked, and I gave zero fucks. I was in post-orgasmic bliss.
I looked up at my ceiling fan, I felt the cool air mix with the sweat that had formed on my body, deliver a chill. I felt the moisture on the sheets, below my ass start to get cold. I reached my hands down to my opening and felt the cum on my fingers. I always loved the taste of my juices on my partners lips, after they ate my pussy, and I wanted to taste it again. It was deliciously sweet. I delivered myself one more orgasm before the night was through. When I was finished, I got my hair dryer, dried my wet spot, and retreated into a lovey slumber.
I realized, after the fact, that it was the first time, in a very-very long time that I didn’t use porn to stimulate my mind. Ever since that night all Womanizer orgasms have been mental and breath only. Now, there are times when I forget to charge my Womanizer, and when I lay down, she’s dead. I would use porn and go back to one of my many other toys. But the Womanizer is in a lane all her own. I use her at night, in the morning, for an afternoon pick-me-up after work, and in the shower; it’s quite possibly the best toy I’ve had ever. It’s a fantastic toy to have in your arsenal. However, I have heard some women say it was too intense, but I absolutely, obviously love it.
In my next post I’ll revisit the Tabooty series, and the role my Womanizer played in making the experience magical.
Two weeks ago, I finally deactivated and deleted my remaining dating apps (Tinder & Hinge). I came to the conclusion that; with the writing of this blog, working on my memoir, trying to get into shape, being an advocate for herpes, and dating 3 men; I have no energy, nor desire, to meet anyone new. So, I decided to call it quits and to focus on further building the connections I already have established.
Over the past few months, after claiming my polyamorous label; I have put a lot of time, energy, and emotions into maintaining my relationships. So, it rubs me the wrong way when people dismiss my identification and connections, and say “so you’re just fuckin’ people!”; because, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! There is so much more to it than that.
When I decided to live this lifestyle, I was prepared to answer the many questions that the monogamous world would ask. The; “what does polyamory mean?” or “how can I be comfortable knowing someone I care about is with someone else?” The answer to those two questions often goes something like this…
You love your mother, father, and siblings. When you start a family of your own you love your partner, your child, etc.; love just keeps on growing. LOVE NEVER RUNS OUT. Now, you may fall out of love with someone, but love cannot be measured as a chart that gets divided amongst your loved ones, because it’s forever replenishing. So, when I identify as polyamorous, that is my goal; but before love, comes like.
The above questions are fine; especially growing up in a monogamy-aiming society, there are bound to be people that do not understand the idea of having multiple romantic loves.
However, I wasn’t prepared to have to defend said lifestyle. Against A) those that choose to belittle the decisions that we make with statements like: “if he loves you, he won’t share you” OR B) “what about all the STDs out there?” First of all, I’m a woman, not a pie. What does love look like anyway? And, secondly, I’ve found that those in this non-traditional lifestyle often get tested far more frequently and are more open to talking about sexual health, than those that are extremely close-minded to this way of living/loving. (Not to mention; I got herpes from what I thought was a monogamous relationship).
In addition to defending my lifestyle choices, I’m also fighting off the, what I like to call, lifestyle-nomads. Lifestyle-nomads: are those people that truly have no desire to build connections. They may be the ones trying it on for size, or latch to the label because, on paper, it mirrors what they’re doing, but it lacks the deeper foundation. Just because you want to fuck a bunch of people and you want a date or two before, that does not make you polyamorous; that makes you non-monogamous. Living towards a polyamorous love-style is the ability to like freely and honestly, with the goal for like to become love. The goal is to have long-lasting connections of the heart and spirit, regardless if there is sexual intimacy.
Now, being the sex-positive woman that I am, (who is, in layman’s terms- single); I can, technically, have sex with as many men and women I want. But, that’s NOT what I want. I love the connections, conversations, butterflies, honesty, and vulnerability that dating, in a romantic capacity brings. I never did and I still don’t get those feelings with just sex. Outside the walls of a sex-club (where a nick-name and a condom are enough); emotional, spiritual, and intellectual stimulation are necessary for me to become repeatedly engaged. I have conversations with my partners, I go on dates with my partners I spend time with my partners, and in addition to them knowing about what I do when I am not with them, they all know of each other. There is an honesty and transparency I associate with being poly, that I didn’t associate, when I was dating prior. My partners make me happy and put a smile on my face, and I can only assume I do the same for them. So, when someone absentmindedly dismisses them as just a phase or sexual object; ignoring the amorous (love) aspect from the title and only focuses on the poly (many); not only is it very unsettling, it’s also not true.
The second thing I didn’t expect was encountering so many half-assers.
As started prior, polyamory is not for those that just like a lot of sex. For those people that are always horny and just want to have sex with everything that walks; that is non-monogamy. Another major part of being truly polyamorous is arriving at that space of love, and finding joy watching your partner experience love with someone else, with no fear of their love diminishing your own. COMPERSION!
This COMPERSION is the part that many people find most difficult. Many people are happy to be open/non-monogamous/swingers, but the idea of love being added to the relationship, many people don’t want to explore that reality.
In addition to the lack of compersion, I encounter a lot of misogynistic imbalance as well, in the poly community. I do now, and always have felt that polyamory, non-monogamy, and open-relationships only work when both partners are willing participants. One partner cannot be allowed to play the field, while the other has to sit on the side lines.
Ladies, if your man can be with another women; yet you can’t be with another man; then that relationship is imbalanced. Ladies (and men) if your partner won’t stop cheating; so, you turn a blind eye and claim non-monogamy; again, that relationship is imbalanced.
The recipe for a successful alternative relationship is an even playing field, constant communication, and checking in; there are rules within the storm, and both/all parties have to agree and follow the rules. That does not mean, if he/she has 3 partners, I need 3 partners too- NO! My schedule may only allow me 1 partner in addition to my primary, and that’s totally fine; after all, it’s not a competition. Decide what it is you want and do what works within the confines of the union that you two have set up.
The last thing that bugs me, is the oversexualization of the polyamorous and non-monogamous community.
We are Sex Positive; NOT Sex Addicts.
Sorry to burst your erotic bubble; but I DO NOT think about sex all day long. Now, there is nothing wrong with those that do; I’m just stating that’s not me. If there are 24 hours in a day, I may spend all of 5 minutes total with sex on my brain, and that’s not even every day. So, it’s literally a turn-off when every exchange is about sex. I’ve joined several group chats, claiming to be for the poly community; and it was a stream of titties, vaginas, penises, and sex positions; I left each one within a week. I’m too busy to think and talk about sex all day long. Especially when it’s with people that I may or may not ever have sex with.
I love sex when I want it; that goes for type, and locations. I enjoy anal play and anal sex; that does not mean that every night I want my ass fucked. I enjoy going to sex parties and engaging with multiple partner; that does not mean I want to go to them every weekend. Lastly, I enjoy being with women; that does not mean I need to eat pussy every day. It’s important that people understand that about me and other sex-positive people. Just because we openly talk about sex, that does not mean it’s on our minds 24/7. After all… polyamorous does not mean sex-addict.
Now that you have this horrible thing plaguing you, how can you ever live a normal life again? That was a question I asked myself once I was, finally, ready to get back into the dating world. Part of the answer is, having herpes is only as horrible as you make it. Another thing to consider is… What is normal?
We all have traveled different roads and have different stories to tell; and since people living with this virus are often secretive about it; this road is rarely ever paved, for the next person’s journey. There is a lot of trial and error in dealing with this virus; and I’ve tried quite a few things and here were my results.
First things first: I want to stress the importance of taking time to actually heal after being diagnosed. I’m talking about emotional, spiritual, and mental healing. The first thing we often struggle with, post positive, is – Who will want me? I’ll tell you now, the answer is “Somebody!” Maybe not the person you thought, but there are enough people in the world that will see you and see beyond the virus. But, I deeply stress self-healing because; there are just as many people that will see your desire for acceptance and use that to have control over you. And what was once a great romance; soon becomes an abusive, manipulative, unfaithful, and sad situation. You’ll find yourself staying in that bad situation because you fear that no one else will want to be with you.
You have to want yourself more than you want them. No person (herpes or not) that comes into your life should complete you. You have to be complete with yourself; that way, anyone that you allow to occupy time in your life, only adds a bonus. Think of how good it felt to see that 110% on a test because you answered the bonus question- that’s the feeling you want.
ALL ON FRONT STREET (Immediate & Early Disclosure): “I’d rather not waste my time, so I just tell them to get it out of the way.”
I only encourage this approach in hook-up scenarios (online or in person). I’ve online dated for a very long time, and most often than not, conversations turn to sex. So, as a tactic to get to the point I state the following:
“So, just so you’re aware, before we go any further (before I come over); 10 years (X time) ago, I was diagnosed with genital herpes. None of my partners have tested positive, and I’ll do what I can to keep you negative; but you need to be aware of the risks.”
The above, script gets the fact out there, with details in relation to my diagnosis and the partners that I’ve had that have not been affected by the virus. I allow the person to think about it, I honestly answer any questions they have and I allow them to make a choice.
If you have not had this virus and you don’t have a record to reflect on; I used to say this:
“Before we go any further (before I come over); I need to let you know that, I was diagnosed with genital herpes (however long ago). I’m not having any symptoms right now, so the risk is minimal; but you should be aware of the risks.”
It should be stated, that you will have the most recurrent outbreaks and episodes of shedding, within the first year. Antivirals (valtrex or acyclovir) and an overall healthier way of living will minimize the frequency of these episodes. But just because you’re not showing symptoms, that does not mean the virus isn’t present. This year period is a good time to self-reflect. Take the year to learn your body and what your triggers are. Adapt a healthier and stress-free life and move forward.
I don’t like the AOFS approach when it’s a person you want to pursue in a more romantic way. When you blurt out herpes; you’re not allowing them to get to know you. Every person’s experience with this virus is different, but the image of what herpes is (magnified by the STIGMA) is always bad. Telling a person too soon, may cause them to only see the virus and not you. I realize that; nothing hurts more than dating a person, really falling for them, then when you finally disclose, they run for the hills. This rejection can send you into a downward spiral and make you never want to try again. But consider this fact; that people will reject you for a plethora of reasons: your education, past, finances, sexual past, the list goes on. Sure, you probably envisioned that they would be “The One” and now your hopes and dreams are shattered. But I promise you, they were not “The One”, they were simply the one you wanted.
IN DUE TIME (Tactical Disclosure): “I like to wait a few dates in or before we become intimate”
I advocate for this option for many reasons.
1. I’ve encountered many men that seem to be nice, that turn out to be ass-hats. Not to mention, you’ll be grateful that you didn’t tell them if the ending turns disrespectful. In cases where I was called a bitch, I was happy the words “dirty” or “diseased” weren’t placed in front of it.
2. There’s no need in disclosing something about yourself if you never make it to date one. With the dating culture filled with ghosts; the last thing you need, is to think someone didn’t show up because of you having herpes. I run out of hair follicles if I try to count how many times I’ve been ghosted, without them ever knowing I have herpes.
3. The phone (or text) conversations seemed to flow like water; but the in-person date was so dry, you swear they hired a ghost-writer. If you never make it to date two, was all the stress to disclose really worth it?
4. What’s wrong with just enjoying a date for the sake of a date? Again, the pressure and realization of this virus forces us to act with haste to find a partner, settle down, and be done with it all. So, we get all jazzed up to put our best foot forward to be chosen. But the truth is; there is nothing wrong with dating. Go on a date, share a kiss or two; it’s totally fine. Take your time and think to yourself; Would I want to be with this person, if I didn’t have herpes?” If the answer is yes then; set up a time to get ready to have the conversation. But if the answer is no; just enjoy the date.
So, once you’ve determined you like this person, what do you say? The answer is, there is no perfect answer. The truth is, some people will NEVER want to take that risk, and you’ll have to accept that. It doesn’t make them bad and it doesn’t make you dirty or whatever; it just makes them “UNWILLING TO TAKE THE RISK”. I strongly advise confiding in a family member or friend and practicing. It may also help telling people that you have no genuine desire to be with. I’ve found the best approach is confidence combined with a dose of education. The fact is; many people know nothing about herpes. They know: they know it’s called an STD, they don’t want to get it, it’s forever, and causes blisters. Arming your conversation with facts will only help when disclosing. Facts help to dismantle the stigma; and it also shows people they don’t know all they thought they did. Practice makes perfect!
I’ve disclosed; over the phone, via text message, and I’ve displayed my status on dating apps; but I’ve found that I prefer disclosing in person. I like the in-person approach, because I like to see their face as I tell them. I often realize that their face displays one of shock or surprise, because I don’t look like a person that has herpes. (Because people with herpes, have “A LOOK”). I can see their brain reprogramming itself as I go on and on with details and stats.
One of the last dates, when I disclosed in person; went something like this. (We met on OKCupid, after date #2, and after date one he was already talking about giving me a ‘body massage’. I suggested we walk to the park and talk for a bit)
Me: So, before we go back to your place, there is something you should know. 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with genital herpes. I’ve had boyfriends and partners since then, all of whom have never tested positive. I always do what I can to keep my partners negative, but as there is always a risk, that I have to make my partners aware of.
Him: Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. Sorry you’re dealing with that. You know I really care about my health; I get tested after every partner, so I don’t think this will work.
Me: Don’t be sorry. Many people have it and many people are unaware they may be carriers of the virus, so I just do what I can to inform my partners.
Him: Wait what? Don’t you get like blisters and stuff?
Me: Some people do, but majority of people that have the virus show no symptoms; and many tests don’t include it. So, a lot of people are walking around, assuming they are negative, and all the while- are carriers of the virus and can spread it.
Him: I didn’t know that.
Me: Many people don’t. I would suggest that you and your partner get tested and share results before, if you care that much; since after would be too late. I told you, because I know, but like I said; many people don’t know, some people don’t tell, and many doctors don’t enforce telling.
With the above, I was honest, direct, and was specific about my experience with the virus. The date didn’t continue, but there weren’t any hard feelings (I wasn’t head over heels for him), but even if I had been; I would still consider it a good disclosure story. There was no anger, disrespect, he asked questions and I answered.
The below is a great way to feel a person out, if you’re still afraid to put yourself out there. This will be easier if there is an easy segue to the conversation, but with practice you’ll get better.
Me: My friend’s boyfriend (girlfriend) just found out that they tested positive for herpes.
Him/Her: I’ll that’s disgusting! Was he/she cheating on him/her?
Me: Not that she knows of. But, you know a lot of people have herpes, and most don’t know it.
Him/Her: No! Only dirty people get herpes.
Me: Would you call a child that gets cold sores dirty? Cold sores are herpes too.
Him/Her: No it’s not!
Me: It’s actually the (almost) identical virus. There’s actually a rise on genital HSV1 from people contracting it from oral sex.
Him/Her: But, I get cold sores too. What does that mean for me?
Me: Welcome to the club. I have herpes too.
Me: So, when was the last time you went to the doctor?
Him/Her: (Enter date) hopefully! Why?
Me: Well, I just want to make sure we both get tested and know our status before we plan to have sex. I feel knowledge of sexual health status is very important.
Him/Her: Well, I’m good! I don’t have anything. What about you?
Me: How would you know?
Him/Her: Because I always use condoms and I don’t mess with dirty people.
Now, the following is pending on the conversations you two may have had; like how soon the topic of sex was brought up during your previous conversations
Me: So, you’ve seen the test results of every person you had sex with (including oral)? And you know condoms don’t protect you from everything; right?
Him/Her: No. But I know the people I sleep with, and they’re good, so I know I’m good!
With this response (and strong mental arrogance) you now have enough knowledge to either enforce testing before you continue, or simply walk away.
One mistake I made early on (and sometimes still do, on occasion); I would assume that I’m the worst option on the table. I have herpes; so, nothing can top that. I only cared that they knew my status, but I NEVER enforced confirming theirs; it was enough for me to know they wanted me. I simply assumed, like we all do/did that the other person was STD/I negative. We put all the responsibility on the positive person to have to disclose, but rarely do we ask or confirm. Assumption is not Confirmation.
So, before you lay down or engage with a person (especially if you don’t want to use condoms or other barriers) know their status. No one virus or infection is better than another, but I’d prefer to not add any additional ones to my list.
You first laid eyes on me when I was in the corner being fucked by two men at the party. When I came up for air, you asked me a simple question; “Would I sit on your face?” I told you to give me a moment and I would get back to you. You didn’t know my STD status and I wanted to make sure you knew, before we decided to engage. As the party continued, I remained pre-occupied so I never got the chance to talk to you before the party ended. You walked with me and the other gentleman I had played with to the elevator and out of the hotel. While waiting for our respective cabs, you bravely asked me for my number; and I, gave it to you. You messaged me to make sure I got home safe; then I didn’t hear from you.
A few weeks passed, and you messaged me a few days before what would be the second party we would attend. We texted back and forth for hours. It was weird that we had so much in common; that for a moment I thought you stalked my Instagram to know what to say to make me like you. I eventually realized it wasn’t an act and that we actually did like a lot of the same things. You told me that the next party fell on your birthday and as a present from me, you wanted me to sit on your face. I asked if you had read my Instagram bio; I wanted to make sure you knew that I was herpes positive and what that could mean for you. You thanked me for telling you and we continued our conversation without a beat.
The night of reckoning, I arrived at the party early. I wore pink heels, knowing that you liked them and when you walked in, I shyly said “hi”. I was quasi-dating another partygoer and talking to the man sitting next to me – so I played it cute. When the party started, I went with you to the corner, we took off our glasses, and I gave you your birthday present. I sat on you face and sucked at your dick. I moisturized your beard with my juices and felt your tongue and fingers explore my openings. You brought me to a ferocious orgasm. I immediately wanted you inside of me, so I bent over ready to receive you. I was dripping wet with anticipation, but your birthday drinking festivities, from before the party, inhibited you; so, you went back to eating my pussy. You flipped me over and made a show of me as your meal. I was terrified that I would break my neck, but you kept your grip on my body secure. You laid me back down and buried your face and tongue deeper into me. With your finger pleasing my ass and you mouth on my clit, you brought me to yet, another magically loud orgasm.
My second orgasmic outcry got the attention of the other party-goers. As your intoxication began to flood in, I retreated to shower, and, with that, I was stolen away. I didn’t see you the rest of the party, but you messaged me that, although you were totally shit-faced, you got home safe. I played with a few other men at the party that night; but something about you set you apart from the others.
Our first date, was the day of the pride parade; we went to see Aladdin. Hot as it was, you arrived a cute and sweaty mess; we kissed then preceded to watch the movie. After the movie we walked to go and get dinner; then we walked some more. We took a seat by Madison Square Park and, of course, talked some more. So much laughter and joy filled that very first date. I felt so at ease with you; and although I didn’t want the night to end, we took the train to my neighborhood and you walked me to my building. A passionately long kiss was the end to our amazing night and we parted ways; that was only two months ago.
Since then: you’ve come with me to my herpes support group, you’ve supported me during my triathlon training, you’ve helped me fix my room, you’ve supported my writing, you’ve come with me to my writing group; all the while encouraging me to be nothing but myself. I wake up to your ‘good morning beautiful’ texts, I talk to you throughout the day, and you don’t let a night pass without wishing me a good night and sweet wet dreams.
The first time you stayed over, while my family was away, you pleased my body every chance you could. From oral sex in the shower, to delivering my body deep thrusts in my bed, to burying your face in between my legs and bringing me to orgasm after orgasm; you more than made up for the party. And before, during, and after it all; you held me close, our bodies were intertwined as you laid with me, and I felt safe in your arms. Our naked flesh pressed up against each other as we drifted into sleep at night; only to start the morning with me taking your dick into my mouth and bringing you to pleasure. I was determined to make you cum and when you did, I didn’t stop. I kept going until you couldn’t take any more (payback for the many times you continued licking my clit past my orgasm). In short, that weekend was exactly what I needed; and had no idea I was missing.
I was always told, if I wanted to find a good man, I would have to hide my desires. But, so far, you’ve proven to be a great man in my life, that fully supports my freak-filled ways. Not only do we have amazing sex, but we have amazing sex with other couples. You support me with all my choices, as I encourage you to pursue your goals. You make me smile till my cheeks hurt, and you give me butterflies.
I only went to the party for some good sex; but I left with so much more. I can’t to see what the future holds.
I’ve lived in New York my entire life; and while I know well the streets of Manhattan; if you drop me in the Wall Street area, I’m likely to ask a tourist for directions. Downtown Manhattan has no logic; there are no numbers, just street and avenue names, and unlike the rest of Manhattan, that’s a grid format, downtown is a series of awkwardly shaped triangles and irregular squares.
After wandering for 10 minutes, I finally arrived at the right place. Once in the room, their banter was a mental shoulder massage, that calmed my nerves for the recording. MandIi noticed my notes and said; “Bitch, you got notes!”. Yes!– I came prepared with 8 pages of notes, armed and ready to dismantle the stigma that is herpes; I was ready to lay some facts on the world. That’s when she told me that she didn’t want to focus on the data of herpes, but more on how I lived my life and dated casually, while being herpes positive… There went all of my notes!
Overall, I got great feedback and my words, and hearing my story, it helped a lot of people feel better about their status. So, even though I’ve discussed herpes on many posts during the life in my blog; I want to take this post to dive into breaking it down further. (Be Prepared… It’s a long one)
WHAT IS HERPES, REALLY?
First of all, herpes is NOT a skin condition. I know that many of us positives like to label it as such, to make it sound less scary to a potential partner, but that’s not the reality. A huge part in breaking the stigma is being honest; and if we’re being 100% honest; herpes is a viral infection of the nervous system, that is transmitted via skin to skin contact. There are two most common type of herpes is HSV1 (most often in the form of cold sores, with a rise in genital diagnoses), the next is HSV2 (most often genital herpes).
THE MAIN TYPES OF HERPES (HSV1 & HSV2)
First of all, it’s important to note that; the type of herpes is NOT exclusive to the location. A person can have HSV1 on any area of the body: face, cheeks, lips, and the genital region (anything below the belt). HSV2, although most commonly in the genital region, can in rare cases be present on the face, cheeks, or lips. It all rally depends on the individual’s immune system and where the virus was introduced to them.
So, let’s break down oral herpes. We’ve all seen young kids and adults with cold sores or fever blisters, well those were/are herpes. Most children acquire the virus from a relative. If you ever got a kiss on the cheek, or if your parents ever kissed you as a child; if they had the herpes virus in their system (aka a history of cold sores), they may or may not have exposed you to the virus. It’s interesting to consider that an innocent kiss, a human act of affection can forever impact a person’s life. But none the less, we are humans, we kiss, and sometimes when we kiss, we transmit herpes.
Genital herpes, on the other hand is solely, sexually transmitted. Before I go and break this one down, I want to take a moment to give a little quasi-history lesson. Herpes (in various forms) has been around since the beginning of time; but let’s jump to why there is a stigma with genital herpes in the first place. The reason is… SEX! For decades, a genital herpes diagnosis indicated that you were either, having sex before marriage or cheating on your partner. Unfortunately, as casual sex started to become more prevalent during the sexual revolution, the stigma on what it meant to have herpes still remained and began to multiply. For those determined to police the sexually free; degradation and fear tactics became the norm. Fast forward to today, and you have a stigma with enough weight to pound a Buick into a box the size of my palm.
Our bodies are covered head to toe with nerves. These nerves are responsible sending notes to our brain to be processed. If a person hits us, we feel it and our brain processes it as either pleasure or pain. So, regardless of where you stand on religion, politics, or sexuality; that is a fact that you can’t deny. The desire to feel pleasure, give pleasure, and receive pleasure; is, at it’s very core- human. As humans, we feel, we cry, we kiss, and we have sex. All of these biological actions are what makes us human, and sometimes, when we are being human, we make choices; and those choices may result in us acquiring herpes. Sure, if given the choice no person would CHOOSE herpes; but once we have it, we shouldn’t feel ashamed about it; because we got it being human. You wouldn’t feel ashamed if you got a cold right? So, I look at it the same way.
When you ask to be tested for everything, that test, most often does not include herpes.
HSV (1 or 2) are not included on most STD tests; which means, a significant percent of people with the herpes virus have no idea. This same percentage of people are able to transmit the virus, even though they have no symptoms. It should go without saying (but I will say it anyway). The virus can be transmitted with no outbreak present, this is called viral shedding (when the virus is present on the skin, but with no symptoms). Condom usage, a healthy diet, and incorporating antivirals minimizes the risk of transmission by a great degree, but there is no 100% guarantee.
You don’t have herpes, because you’ve never had an outbreak. (Outbreak = positive, No outbreak = negative… WRONG!!!)
Herpes does not always manifest itself in the way we assume it would. If you had a sex-ed class, you probably, saw images of blisters. Even though this is the most common manifestation of the virus; depending on the person’s immune system their initial outbreak can appear in a variety of ways. I’ve heard stories of it looking like a scratch, like raised skin from an insect bite, a small rash, and even a single bump. There are also those that never have an outbreak, but they may get a cold or have flu-like symptom; (9 times out of 10, you wouldn’t attribute a case of the sniffles to herpes) so, you wouldn’t go and get tested. But that may be an indicator that your body is taking a hit.
Cold sores are not herpes, so I don’t have to disclose.
People with cold sores or fever blisters (or any other fancy name) you choose to call your reactions; just know that they are, in fact, HERPES. Many people will say, “well, it’s not the same”, but if you look at HSV1 & HSV2 from a medical standpoint: they are both life-long viral infections, and they both can be transmitted, during shedding (no outbreak) and/or an outbreak. This is a horrible example; but If I had to break down the DNA of HSV1 vs HSV2. Look at your hand (all 5 fingers & palm) as HSV1, then consider your hand and add in the wrist, that’s HSV2. I won’t sit here and say that, if you have a history of cold sores, you should tell every potential partner. Honestly, the decision to disclose (with oral or genital herpes) is a personal decision; especially since the CDC doesn’t require testing and many doctors don’t advocate disclosing. But consider this; if you don’t mention that you get cold sores to your partner, and you perform oral sex on them and by accident, you transmit the virus to their genitals; consider what does that mean for their sexual future. Hence why people advocate for disclosing.
THE STIGMA OF HERPES
The most difficult part of this virus is, in fact, the stigma. People assume we are walking blisters; in pain everyday all day, and that we are always living with outbreaks. They assume that they will know what a person with herpes looks like and they assume that a person with herpes must’ve had an entire host of partners, and that’s how they got their virus. When the reality is: most people never have symptoms; and overtime (as your body adjusts to the virus) those that do have actual outbreaks; the outbreaks, become less frequent less painful. And the biggest myth of them all is the whore-herpes-false narrative. I know plenty of people that contracted this virus with their first partner, from cheating spouses, and casual sex. There are plenty of people with hundreds of partners and don’t have herpes and there are people with only one partner that has the virus. You won’t know until you ask and get tested.
FACT: THE FIRST YEAR IS POSSIBLY THE WORST
Studies indicate that you are most contagious during the first year of exposure to the virus (if you have an initial outbreak). A newly diagnosed individual may, after their first outbreak, experience recurrences, and may also be shedding the virus as the body has not fully begun to build HSV antibodies. On the opposite end a person may acquire the virus and never have symptoms, they too, during this period are most contagions due to viral shedding.
SO MANY UNKNOWNS
Because we are human, above all things, we need control and answers. We need to know that 1+1=2; because the idea of the unknown is scary; then, herpes happens. We’re taught that if we are careful and have ‘safe-sex’ we will be alright; then herpes comes along and throws that idea out the fucking window. The reality is that, herpes doesn’t care who you are, what you are or how you identify. It doesn’t care about your race, your income, or your profession. It doesn’t care if you go to church or if you’re having sex in back alleys. Herpes doesn’t think, it just does what it wants. And at the end of the day, it wants to travel and replicate and it, unfortunately, uses us humans as the means for that connection from point A to point B.
STARTING OVER AFTER HERPES
So, your results come back, positive for herpes, now what? If you go to a GYN or regular doctor, you’ll find pamphlets and support groups for alcoholism, drug abuse, cancer, and HIV; but you’ll rearely find any for herpes. In school (again, assuming you received sex-ed), all they told you about herpes, at best, were ways to avoid getting it and that it was incurable. Everything is before; they never educate you on the after. Often times, when you’re told that you’re HSV positive, the doctor writes you a prescription for antivirals and sends you on your way. It’s a sad reality that there is little to no support (from the medical community) in combination with the stigma.
The stigma and shame of sexuality, has told us that being diagnosed with herpes, is our penance for being loose, promiscuous, or too sexual; and because of that, we now have to live in silence. The stigma tells us that we are dirty and unworthy of finding true love; and if you do happen to meet a person willing to accept you, you had better shut your mouth and be happy. The stigma tells us that it’s our fault and that we now have to walk around with a scarlet “H” burning a hole in our hearts. The stigma, that fucking stigma needs to take multiple seats.
We are not dirty! We deserve love and respect! And, we deserve to be happy!
If you are struggling with your diagnosis, there are support groups on Facebook and Reddit. There are advocates working to dismantle the stigma of herpes and spread the truth. It helps to have friends or family you can talk to about what you’re going through; you shouldn’t have to do this alone.
If you are a human being, that has sex (whether it’s with one partner for 500) herpes is inevitable. 9 times out of 10 you either know someone with the virus, already had sex with someone with the virus, or will have sex with someone with the virus in the future. That’s just the reality of the virus.
How you choose to live your life, whether negative or positive is totally up to you. All I hope is that, after you’ve read this post is the following:
1- If you’re already living with herpes, you know that you don’t have to go through it alone. There are various platforms on the internet that you can seek out and join to have a piece of mind. Confide in family and friends and never be afraid to live your truth. I know the fear of being “outed” can be terrifying. But there reality is, once it’s out there- no one can tell your story.
2-If you’re herpes negative, and want to remain that way, instead of assuming your partner is STD(I) negative, you both go and get tested together. It’s better to know than to assume.
3-If you’re herpes negative and you encounter a person that’s herpes positive; understand the courage that it took for them to be honest, and think back to this post. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to pursue a person with herpes, but remember that they are still HUMAN. Thank them for telling you and respectfully decline. DO NOT shame them or call them names, as they are already dealing with enough.
If you feel like I’ve missed something, or you have any questions; my email is up and running, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
I was, not so recently, asked if I still believed in love. I was asked, over drinks, by the man that was the main character in my I Blamed You story. It seemed to him, that with all my ups and downs that I had given up on the idea of love. This made me think… Did I actually give up on love? I knew I still desired a form of romantic love in my life; but, with all my ups and downs, felt it would never happen.
Four years ago, I broke up with my last ex. I needed time to re-find myself; and fall back in love with who I was. I discovered all the things that made me happy. I re-bonded with my friends, my family, and eventually I started dating again. Dating kind of went like this: ghost, ghost, dick-pic; ghost, ghost, married man looking to cheat on his wife; ghost, pen-pal, bad sex; catfish, ghost, then good fling turned ghost; fuck-buddy, ghost, scam.
During my pursuit to find “THE ONE” all I found was; much time wasted, half-ass conversations, and lots of hurt emotions. Then I asked myself; What was the driving force being my serial-dating? The answer was; I had set up a highly unrealistic timeline for love, based on the dreaded. biological clock. I wanted to be in a relationship by 32, engaged by 33, married by 34, and right when my birth control was done, at 35- Surprise! We’re pregnant! That was the plan. That fucked up plan had me ferociously swiping left and right, and going on date after date, until I was blue in the face and my fingers were numb.
Why did I want a relationship so bad? Why did it matter so much to me, for me to be chosen by another? Was I not enough? I looked back at all of my former relationships where I was chosen, yet never truly happy. I used to be a serial-monogamist (relationship after relationship) and none of them ever fully satisfied me; maybe what I needed was time to explore. If I was being honest with myself, I was, only, happy about 60-70% of my relationships; the other time, I was Miserable, with capital “M”. There was always something that was missing. On the opposite end, there was always something that I was unable to give, and that in return made me feel less than. I never met a man that shared my hobbies and desires, and I never met a man I could really be myself with. For the better part of all my relationships I tried to fit into this perfect little image of what he wanted me to be. I tried being his everything and looking back- I hated it!
I had always known that alternative love-sytles existed, I was simply hesitant to seek them out. So, tired with doing what, I was supposed to do, I decided to try and do what I wanted.
I took it slow at first (or not- depending on who you ask); I claimed my position on non-monogamy, polyamory, and bisexual. I met M_Tinder, and shortly after I met R_Tinder. The connections I had with each man was dynamic in its own right. I was openly dating both men, they knew of each other, and jealousy wasn’t a factor. My conversations with M were light hearted, while my conversations with R were more dynamic. The yin and yang of the two fed my mind, but the direct consistent human connection was slightly missing. As I still craved human contact, some weeks it wasn’t enough. So, I thought; what would happen if I sought one more person of interest.
It just so happened that, over the past few weeks, my romantic interests have doubled. With romantic walks, deep conversations, passionate kisses, amazing sex, and constant communication; I’m content with my current lifestyle choice. I don’t feel pulled in 15 different directions, like I thought I would, and I am able to take the time that I do have and spend it with the ones I choose.
For the first time, in a very long time, (I can’t reiterate it enough) I am unapologetically, happily!
With the variety of special people in my life; I can be: romantic, caring, funny, playful, serious, woke, witty, a princess and open. I can also be: a sex-goddess, submissive, an exhibitionist, and a total freak (You know, that one you wouldn’t bring home to meet your mother).
I wasn’t able to answer the question then; but I can answer it now. I do believe in love. I just don’t believe in monogamous love for me (at least for the foreseeable future).
That’s not to say I may never grow tired of this lifestyle. Who knows, maybe 4 years from now I’ll meet someone that will make me want to give it all up. We’d get married, I’d pop out a few babies, and we’d ride happily into the sunset. Sitting on the front porch, sipping lemonade in our rocking chairs, watching our grandchildren play; I’ll reflect back on this time in my life with a warm heart.
Or, I’ll remain in this lifestyle and continue to build beautiful meaningful, long-lasting connections with my partners. We’d attend each other’s weddings, and create unions of our own design. A blended host of families like no one has ever seen. We’d stake out real estate and build a community around our love, so our children would grow up knowing that love comes in many forms. We’d be together on holidays, birthdays, and graduations. We’d be there for each other as we grow old and no one would die alone; because we’d have an abundance of love between us all.
I’m not sure what the future will look like, as I’m happy taking this one day at a time. The loves that I am experiencing are not, by any means, traditional; but they are the identity of love that I not only need but am also able to give.