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Let Us Sex-plain: When should I tell people I have herpes?

Your personal wingwoman, Jillian Anthony, answers all your questions about dating and doing it in New York

By Jillian Anthony

I get it—being single in the city can be tough, and the ways New Yorkers are having sex these days can be surprising. But whatever your dating conundrum might be, I'm here to help. Consider me (Jillian Anthony, Time Out New York's Senior Things to Do editor) your personal wingwoman, guiding you through dating and doing it in New York in our weekly "Let Us Sex-plain" column. Check out my answers to all your questions online and in the magazine every Wednesday, and submit your own coitus queries below!

I developed feelings for a friend, and I told her how I felt, but she didn’t feel the same way. We’re still close and have dated other people, but she recently told me that she doesn’t like seeing me with someone else. I still want her! What should I do?
—Kat, East Village

When someone tells you they don’t have feelings for you, you’d better listen. You were brave enough to tell her how you feel, and she didn’t return those feelings. Now she’s confusing you by saying something negative about you dating others? That’s manipulative. If her feelings for you have changed and she really wants to be with you, she’ll tell you. Till then, keep doing you, and don’t let her mess with your mind.

I have genital herpes type 1. How long should I wait to disclose this to people I date? Obviously before sexual contact, but should it be the first date? The sixth? I’m terrified of rejection.
—Rachel, Long Island

Rachel, you’re definitely not alone. Sixty-seven percent of people under 50 years old have herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) worldwide (Do you get cold sores? You’ve got herpes!), though genital cases from this strain of the virus are rarer. While you shouldn’t be ashamed of your status, I would only reveal it to those you feel ready to be both physically and emotionally close with. If you find someone you think truly wants to know you, whether after a single night of talking or two months of dating, that’s who might deserve knowing this intimate part of you. Your status is not who you are, and your next partner will understand this and find ways to work through it alongside you.

I’m seeing this guy, and it’s going great. But recently he texted me a racially insensitive (and really stupid) joke. I didn’t pretend to find it funny, but I did make a joke back, and now we’ve kind of moved past it. How should I address it next time I see him?
—Francesca, Williamsburg

It can be enormously difficult to call people out on things they do and say that are racist, sexist or otherwise marginalizing. But I’ve learned from people who are fighting for social justice that speaking up against every instance you see of bad behavior is important for making real change happen. When you bring it up with him, try not to be accusatory (to avoid an immediate defensive reaction). Instead say, “That joke you made the other day bothered me, and this is why.” Hopefully he’ll apologize and consider his words more carefully in the future. If not, consider it a red flag.

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Let us sex-plain

Sex and dating

Your personal wingwoman, Jillian Anthony, answers all your questions about dating and doing it in New York. Read them all here.


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