I don’t even know why I am writing to you, you just seem to give sound understanding advice. I am a sexual woman, but have only been with one man my entire life, and a couple years ago he had an affair/cheated. Not only did he break my heart, but gave me a life long STD (no not HIV), the other. 😦 Ever since, I am scared that I’m broken/ damaged goods. How could any man be able to look past what I have and have a healthy sexual relationship with me without the stigma? The rejection would kill me inside.
I’m so sorry to hear that you were betrayed on several levels. While a committed relationship is not for me personally, I do take loyalty very seriously and hate having my trust violated.
Since you’ve read my blog, I’m going to be blunt. I’m not going to guess what “the other” sexually transmitted disease is that you contracted from him. Is getting a sexually transmitted disease the end of your world? No. Is it a pain in the ass? Has your life changed irrevocably? Yes. Will you find love again? Only if you really want to.
The affair, and I’m assuming the contraction of the STD, was a couple of years ago, but you sound as if you’re still in denial or depression about it. I would highly suggest you reach out to a support group and talk with a counselor about your options for safe sex and long-term care for yourself to support your immune system and keep you healthy otherwise. Note, this counselor or therapist serves a different purpose than your doctor that you may see every few months to get prescriptions. A counselor will be interested in your well-being on a personal level, not just the numbers on your blood panels.
It is understandable if you are still in denial or even anger about the affair, the STD, the “what now?” you have had to deal with. It can be overwhelming. You might consider getting Adina Nack’s book that seems to resonate exactly with your worst fear, Damaged Goods?: Women Living With Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross explained the five stages of grief in her famous books, including On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. You’re not dying — well, we all die of something — but the information on the grief process could help you immensely in healing the past so you can move on in your future, and learn to love your self in the present. Damaged Goods may have useful tips on safe-sex as well as groups you could contact.
Once you get into a support group or have access to help via a support system, I think you should ask if there is a dating group there as well. Yes, I said it. Ask them if there is a group they know about (with people who have your same STD) that you can start to hang out with, mingle with, and just get to know as friends so you don’t feel so alone in this. After all, you’re not the first person with an STD who has wanted to find love again! So don’t be afraid to ask them!! Your fear is that another man won’t accept you because of the STD. And I’m sensing you would feel a huge dose of gratefulness or indebtedness for him “overlooking” the disease and accepting you regardless. But if you meet a guy who has the same disease, then that part of the awkwardness is nullified, and now you two can move on to figuring out who picks up the check on the first date. 🙂
I’m not trying to sound glib about your situation, but I want you to see that there is hope for you — in body and spirit. Each of us makes choices about how we live each day of our lives. I’m glad to see that you want to live and be happy!
Of course, you should be up front and honest with a potential partner — NEVER leave the info about an STD till “after.” But I feel you have A LOT of healing to do on yourself before you even think about bringing a partner into your life. If you think a partner will give you acceptance, then if that partner leaves, that acceptance goes out the door with them. You have to develop acceptance for yourself from within your self, or any sense of self-worth will last only as long as the relationship. Heal yourself first.
Find a local group, a national hotline, or activist group that helps people with your STD. Be honest with them. Their job is to help you see that life isn’t over once you’ve contracted an STD, just as life isn’t over once a person gets a cancer diagnosis. It’s just a diagnosis. You are in the driver’s seat as to how your life plays out from that moment onward. You are in control. And that can make all the difference in the world for your outlook on the situation, on love, and your life as a whole.
Let me know how it goes. I can’t wait to hear what happens!!