ASK COLETTE: When Secrets Keep Us Stuck

Here, Zoomer guru Colette Baron-Reid on when secrets from your past get in the way of a new relationship.


Dear Colette,

I have met a man I adore.  It’s been difficult for me since my divorce and I am excited to feel adored and attractive again.  I am in my early 40’s and “Paul” is 49. We have been dating for two months and I believe we are both ready to move the relationship to an intimate level.

There is something holding me back. I am absolutely terrified to tell him I’ve had Genital Herpes. I contracted it from my ex-husband 15 years ago, I’ve only had a few outbreaks, and the last one was 10 years ago.  Because I’ve not had an outbreak in so long, should I just leave it alone and not worry about it?  I know it hasn’t “gone away” but I don’t think I am taking a very big risk in not telling Paul, especially if we use condoms.  I take a bigger risk in telling him because I don’t want to lose him.  I also don’t want to have an outbreak or possibly give it to him.  How can I get rid of this worry and fear and still keep Paul? – Keeping a Secret


Dear Keeping a Secret,

Stop right there!  Don’t pass go, don’t collect any goodies!  You absolutely cannot start a relationship in this “stuck” mode.  You are stuck with a secret from your past and it is handcuffing your relationship. Even while you’re handcuffed, you’re still trying to control the future—his reaction to your secret. Not gonna happen.  I understand you don’t want to lose him – but do you really have him if you’re not authentic? Trust has to be present if you want the love and respect to be genuine.

Bottom line—you HAVE to be honest about your sexual history especially if it can affect his health.

I am not a medical doctor so I do not assume to dispense medical advice, I can only share my limited research… Genital Herpes can be dormant with no breakouts, but still be contagious. Even with a condom, the risk of spreading Herpes is lower, but not eliminated completely.

As far as I’ve found, the estimates are that one in five adults have Genital Herpes, and 80 per cent of the infected people are unaware they have it.  Who knows, your truthful conversation with Paul may not be as devastating as you think.

So picture this for a minute…it’s six months from now and you have an outbreak. How do you think THAT conversation will go? You’ve known and you never told him! Talk about running for the hills…! Enough said?!

The bottom line is: Do you want to continue in a relationship in which you’ll always feel like you’re keeping a secret?  As you probably already know, emotional stress can manifest itself in our bodies in many health-related ways.

Why put yourself or Paul through any of that?  You can’t control the future but you can proactive and respectful of the Paul, and your relationship right now.

Have “The Talk”, share your concerns, and whatever happens, feel good knowing you acted with integrity.  You have to own your actions and be authentic. Paul’s reaction is his responsibility, so don’t waste time second-guessing (or more accurately, trying to control) the outcome.

Having this conversation shows Paul how much you’re interested in a long-term relationship.  If he is not on the same page about managing the potential infection, monogamy or longevity, isn’t it better to know now rather than a year from now?

Colette Baron-Reid

The InVision Project
Founder, CEO

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