I'm female, straight, 48. I separated from my husband in May, got my own place in August, and I admittedly engaged in some risky behavior. I had been with my husband since 2003 and during our relationship was pressured into threesomes and couples swaps. He knew I was not into it but he just pestered me so much I'd end up taking one for the team. I eventually gave my consent for him to play without me. I know he never used condoms as that was an issue at the start of our relationship. We had sexual and personal problems as well. I felt like the mom and it kind of kills the libido when you are in that position.
Anyway, after a couple stupid risky encounters I've been in a monogamous relationship since the end of August. I was just diagnosed with HSV 2 completely out of the blue. My current BF is negative, thankfully, and is being impossibly wonderful. He does not want to break up. My ex-husband is negative also. Which means it's probably this loser who said he would use a condom then when I saw the un-opened condom package on the bed and asked if he was wearing a condom he was like, uh no I'm not.

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This is where it gets even stickier.

Current BF is already placing the blame on ex-husband. I haven't told him ex-husband is negative and I only told him about one of the three possible hookups — and that guy is negative too. Current BF is not judgmental but he's very vanilla and I'm just afraid he'd have a different attitude if he knew about the others. I love this man and we see ourselves together long term. Is it horrible of me to let the blame for the herpes rest on my ex? I doubt the two will ever meet. The anxiety is huge. I feel like I am already paying the price for my stupidity. Help!

Hoping Everyone Reacts Positively2 Ex Shaming

Fuck no, HERPES, you shouldn't blame your herpes on your ex-husband — nor should you allow your current and "impossibly wonderful" boyfriend to place the blame on your ex either.

And why do you two feel a need to place blame at all?

Herpes is common ("more than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes") and, for most infected adults, not a big deal ("herpes can be annoying and painful, but it usually doesn’t lead to serious health problems"). Most people who have herpes aren't even aware they're infected — and in many infected adults, HERPES, the virus lies dormant for years, sometimes decades, before a person's first or first noticeable outbreak. So it's possible you had herpes before you met your husband and somehow never infected him; it's also possible that you got herpes during a threesome or during a couples swap a long, long time ago and never infected your husband. It's also possible you got it from that one guy who didn't use the condom he was supposed to use — and fuck that guy — but he may not be the source. It's also possible that your husband is lying to you about testing negative for HSV 2. Same goes for the asshole who removed the condom — and, hey, same could go for your current boyfriend. The stigma attached to herpes is so huge, and so out of proportion, that people will lie about it. (Have you seen copies of everyone's test results?)

You'll never know with complete certainty who infected you, HERPES, or how long you've been infected. So stop trying to assign blame.

And since letting your current BF blame your husband means having to worry he'll somehow find out your ex is negative (or claims to be negative), tell your boyfriend the big-picture truth: You're a 48-year-old woman, you've had lots of sex partners over the course of your adult life (more than you wanted to), and you can't pinpoint the moment you got it or who you got it from. Then tell your BF the subject is closed and don't waste any more time speculating or laying blame.

Go talk to your doctor about herpes meds — they can effectively suppress outbreaks and provide protection for your current partner — and be glad you're no longer with someone who pressures you to do things/people/swaps you don't wanna do.

UPDATE: A reader highlights something I usually mention but neglected to mention in this response...

LW seems not to be aware of something rather important, and Dan failed to mention it: you can get herpes while using condoms. A condom won't cover sores at the base of the penis, for example.

Thanks, Ricardo!

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