The biggest perk of this job by far is making a difference in people’s lives and giving people the tools to reclaim their confidence and their sex lives. Occasionally, people who call us in a state of anxiety about telling a partner ring us back to let us know how it went (something we encourage, we love a happy ending) but for the first time yesterday I had a two-for-one.
A woman in her 30s (I don’t know her name but let’s call her Suzie) who I’d spoken to a few days before, rang me back to thank me. She wanted to tell me that she told her partner, and all had gone well. Not perfectly, but good enough for her to be feeling confident that he was the next big thing.
She’d taken a somewhat unconventional approach by telling him over the phone, while she was on holiday with her friend, “Polly”. Before calling, she’d confided in Polly that’d she’d been diagnosed with herpes – to which Polly replied that she too had it and had spoken to a nice chap called Cameron at the Herpes Viruses Association following her diagnosis! [How nice to hear this!] She went on to tell Suzie that this new boyfriend of hers had declared his love to her and said he didn’t care what she had.
Suzie’s success wasn’t quite the same perfect result as Polly’s but nevertheless, not too shabby. When she returned from holiday her own boyfriend initially avoided the subject, but he didn’t run a mile, and he seems keen to continue their relationship. He stayed the night at Suzie’s place, an honour she had not bestowed upon a man for years.
This was particularly lucky because I got the impression that Suzie still sees herself as being in a small minority and she was using that dreaded word ‘disclose’, which we discourage. There are nicer words to describe telling someone – tell, mention, reveal, unveil, etc.
This shared experience has strengthened the women’s friendship. Suzie was as surprised and delighted by this coincidence as I am humbled by it, so I felt obliged to share this story about continuing sex lives and remind you all just how common having genital herpes is.
The charity has several times had two members who live in the same street. We ask them if they would like to be put in touch with each other. The replies are always “No”! This is such a shame, as the story of Suzie and Jane demonstrates.
If you’re still not convinced how often this happens, then read Marian’s story involving the poppies at the Tower of London.
Posted on 15th November 2023