Archive for the 'secrets' Category


setting the ex up with someone new

Reader N.G. writes:

I casually dated a guy for a while, and things didn’t work out. It wasn’t a bad break up and we’re still technically friends, although we don’t hang out alone together or anything — we just spend time in the same social circles. A few weeks ago, I brought a new friend to a party, and she was asking me questions about him. I think she’s kind of interested in him, which is great, because he hasn’t been dating anyone in a long time. I would be totally happy if he started dating a new girl, and I’m not jealous at all, but I don’t know if he’s her type. Still, I think she has a right to figure that out on her own. Of course: she doesn’t know we ever dated. So, should I tell her we dated, or tell her I don’t think he’s her type, or encourage her to try things out with him anyway, or what?

Dear N.G.:

It’s very kind of you to think of the happiness of both your new friends and past exes. It’s also great that you’re capable of moving on, especially since you only casually dated this guy and you still hang out in the same social circles. Good job on keeping things from getting awkward. Hopefully he feels the same way.

I tend to believe total honesty is the best route in all things relationship. However, given the casual nature of your relationship with both of these people, I don’t think it’s necessary to divulge that you dated the guy in question to your new friend.  Unless you know something really damning about him (like, he’s abusive or he has an STD), let her get to know him on her own time. Some relationships should just take their course.Who knows? They may be perfect for each other.

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Telling her straight up that 1. you used to date him and 2. you don’t think he’s her type can make you look like a jealous, territorial girl, even if you’re not at all jealous and actually want them to date. If she gets really deep into asking you questions about him, you might mention it for full disclosure, but I would not lead with it. Wait until she’s pretty close to having her own ideas about him before you plant that in her head. The fact that he’s casually dated you may taint her impressions of him, obviously.

On the flip side, I would not go overboard in trying to set them up, either. Pushing her on him could be just as disastrous to the unawkward vibe in your current setting as warning her off him would be, especially if he really isn’t her type. He will probably hear of it and figure it out as well, and it can be somewhat insulting for an ex to set you up with someone new; it could be seen as a “you can’t do this yourself and I need to get you out of my hair” gesture, depending on the guy and your relationship with him.

To sum up: my best advice is to play this cool. Don’t offer more information than necessary; keep the past info to yourself until it’s relevant; ask more questions than you offer details. Let this blossom as organically as you’d let any relationship between acquaintances or casual friends. Save the real matchmaking for your besties.


calming the fear

Reader A. M. F. writes:

I’m a recently single girl who has only ever been in long-term relationships (think five years or more, and only two of them in my whole life). I just met a guy I’d like to keep things casual with, but I’m interested in having sex with him. Here’s the kicker: I have herpes. I’ve never had to deal with talking about HSV outside of a committed, long-term setting, and I’m not sure about how to break the news to this guy, or even if I should. What’s your advice?

Dear A. M. F.:

I once read some advice column in a women’s magazine that said something about not telling a one-night-stand about having an STI because if you use a condom, they (probably) won’t get the disease, and you don’t want to kill the mood. My first response to that was, “Wow, how very irresponsible.” I have generally always thought that part of being an adult is owning up to things that could affect other people, like having herpes.


To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Image: nuttakit /

However, I think there are more people out there who wouldn’t say anything than would. The fact is, once you reveal the fact that you have an infection to someone (regardless of what it is or how communicable it is), they’re quite likely not to want to sleep with you. Plus, many of the infections we get in our nether regions are 99% stoppable with condoms.

But there’s one kicker about HSV — even if you do use a condom, chances of spreading it are high because it’s about skin contact, not fluids. Even if the affected partner isn’t showing symptoms, it’s still possible to spread HSV.

And there’s the other thing about HSV — most of the population would test positive for the antibodies of type 1 or type 2, even if they’ve never had an outbreak. EVERYBODY has herpes. A Swiss guy I knew in college said to me that everyone in Europe has herpes and they just deal with it. Yes, I assume he was being hyperbolic, but as we know, the Europeans are far more advanced than us ‘Murkans (at least in the realm of being mature about sexual issues), so I like to take his words to heart. My doctor won’t even test me for it because she says if I’m not having bothersome symptoms there’s no reason to freak myself out with a positive test result.

So what’s an HSV positive girl to do?

I say you are definitely responsible for warning the guy that you have a possibly spreadable infection. He has to be able to choose whether or not that freaks him out too much to sleep with you.

Are you going to follow my advice on that? Probably not.

Kat’s Unscientific Survey of the Week revealed to me that most of my friends believe that if they had herpes, they would feel a responsibility to tell a sexual partner, whether or not it was a serious relationship. However, many of them also said that they wouldn’t sleep with someone who had herpes if they were told. So there’s that.

Some were more forgiving, however; as one said: “It’s herpes, not Ebola.” Most of my friends also said they would be a bit miffed if they found out after sleeping with someone that the partner had herpes, knew about it, and didn’t say anything. What this tells me is that you run the risk of ruining your future relationship with this guy if things go better than you seem to think they will in the long run.

The really interesting thing is how my friends who have herpes answered differently from my friends who don’t. The friends who have it said they often don’t tell casual partners, and simply refrain from having sex when they’re in the midst of a breakout. Furthermore, these friends have had trouble when they did reveal to a partner that they had herpes, even in a longer-term setting.

Thus, I have two strains of advice for you:

My “we live in a perfect world!” advice for you is to be responsible and tell your partners — every partner, every time — that you have a possibly communicable disease that they should probably know more about before they jump in the sack with you. You do this even if it will kill the mood; even if you’ll never see him again after you’re done; even if you’re not having an outbreak and haven’t had one in six months.

My “we live in the real world, dummy” advice for you is that if it’s a one-night stand, and you’re using protection, and you’re not having an outbreak, you’re probably not going to tell him anything about your little problem, and all will probably still be well with the universe. (I will tsk tsk you in the back of my mind, though.)

Of course, your situation is somewhat different, as this isn’t a one-night stand per se. You don’t want to be serious with him, but you want to have sex more than once (I’m assuming). I definitely think a friend with benefits deserves the whole story just as much as a long-term BF would.

The one thing you can do is try to educate him on the facts about HSV:

– It’s not life-threatening (in most cases. Someone is going to jump all over me about this, I’m sure, but the fact is: yes, it’s incurable; no, it’s probably not going to kill you).

– A lot of people have it but don’t show symptoms.

– It’s not a certainty that he’ll get it from you, even if you’re having an outbreak.

– It’s pretty damned widespread.

– While there’s no cure for it, there are suppressants that can help reduce your risk of passing it to a partner.

You can also send him to the CDC fact sheet on herpes. Or this ad-riddled site that took the domain name (lucky!). It has quite a bit of good information, if you can just look past the crappy ads.

Do I think people who have herpes should only date other people who have herpes? No way. However, if you have a lot of trouble with telling new partners that you have HSV or are really embarrassed about it, I don’t see anything wrong with trying out those HSV-positive dating sites.

So there you have it. Survey says: tell him. If he declines sleeping with you, his loss.

And remember that you aren’t alone, and being HSV-positive does not make you a bad person. It might make you unlucky, but not bad, and not necessarily even someone who made a bad choice. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.



Reader K. Z. writes:

I just found out that my wife had has her own apartment for two months. She has even taken half the pots and pans and tried to hide it by saying they were “put away”. I just found out about this apartment and now she wants to get rid of it. She wants me to help her pay three months rent in advance so she can get out of the lease. Should I kick the bitch to the curb (or her apartment), let her stay at the house as long as she wants, or what? And what about paying for her to get out of the lease?

Dear K.Z.:

weighing the options

Image: jscreationzs /

Wow, she’s been hiding her own apartment from you?

That’s my initial reaction.

Here’s the deal:

I can understand the need for “my own space”. This is why I think two bedroom apartments are a great idea even for couples who love each other. Sometimes ya’ just gotta’ have your own space, even after you’re married. Carrie Bradshaw kept her apartment in “Sex and the City”, and obviously she’s the ruler against which all women should be measured, so…

(I’m kidding.)

However, the fact that she got this apartment after you were married and without telling you about it kinda’ cues me in that you two have problems.

Basically, what I think is that when a couple starts having huge secrets from each other, it’s over. Sure, you’ve got your little secrets in the back of your brain (that time you made Jimmy eat a worm on the playground in second grade, the pencils you stole from your first job when you were 19; you know, little secrets) that you may never have shared. But once secrets start being current rather than past, and once they reach a certain level of magnitude, the relationship has taken a turn it will probably not recover from.

“Kicking the bitch to the curb” might be a bit strong of a verb, but I would definitely look into a good counselor, and possibly a good divorce lawyer. The fact is, your wife got caught in her lie (about the pots and pans), and instead of owning up to her reasons for doing what she did, she renounced the whole arrangement. Obviously if she signed a lease long enough that she’d have to buy out of it, she wasn’t planning on relinquishing it anytime soon. And if she wants to give it up since you found out about it, either the thrill is gone from keeping the secret or she was using it for nefarious purposes.

And you’re probably not going to trust her ever again.

As far as what to do… it all depends on certain factors.

Are you willing to work on the marriage and at not keeping secrets from each other? It’s going to be a long, soul-searching journey, and for her part, the fact that she got an apartment might be a hint that  she has already given up on things. (I’m not sure what her reasons for having a second apartment are, and I’m not sure if you two already have some history of not communicating.)

Do you have the money to buy her out of the lease? If she’s been paying rent on it with her own money (which she has, or you would have noticed the drain on the mutual bank account pretty quickly), I think the financial responsibility lies entirely with her. Perhaps it will be less expensive just to let her keep it, even if it’s not going to be her primary residence. In fact, if you’re going to work on your marriage, she might be willing to let you use it once in a while, which could be nice if you have a big work project, or just need a night alone with the TV, or if the apartment complex has a really sweet pool.

You’re obviously rather upset, and it might be good for her to have her own place for a while as you work through things. I’d say keep the apartment for the time being. If you’re still together when the lease runs out and you want her back home, by all means, drop the apartment then and start over.

But for now, it sounds like she needs a haven anyway.

And it sounds like she’s got a lot of ‘splaining to do.

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