Your naivete can hurt you

A friend shared that she was too naive after her decades-long marriage ended. She was clueless about not only how to be with men other than her now-ex-husband, but about how she could be harmed while she learned.

Soon after her divorce, she started dating a successful man and they had regular make-out sessions. One day, he said he had a cold sore on his lip. Her mother had always referred to canker sores as cold sores, so she didn’t know the difference or think anything about it.

A few weeks later, she got a cold and was constantly blowing her nose. She felt an odd tingling under her nose which blistered and festered. She’d never had anything like this so had no idea what it was. But she was too busy to go to the doctor, so she covered it the best she could with makeup.

Months later it happened again. It seemed to be related to colds, so she finally asked her doctor. She was horrified to learn it was herpes simplex virus. While the doctor said 50%-80% of adults carry the virus, many never get the sores. So she could have already had the virus in her system — or she could have received it from her then-beau.

I’ve heard many midlife daters say they don’t use condoms because they trust their partner. They don’t insist on an STD test before going condom-free. Some say, “I’m not dating a drug addict.” But today I heard a report that said 25% of those infected with HIV don’t know it.

So am I saying no kissing while dating? Kissing is a fun part of dating. But my friend has now vowed to slow down physical contact that can carry surprises. While you can insist on having STD tests before getting intimate, it would be awkward to ask if your date ever gets cold sores.

If cold sores aren’t part of your history, investigate what to look for in an outbreak in others so you can make sure to not touch the infected area. And the virus can become genital herpes through physical contact, so no matter how tempting, best to lay off any kissing or intimacy while one of you has an outbreak.


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6 responses to “Your naivete can hurt you”

  1. J Avatar

    Technically, Herpes Simplex 1 isn’t an STI. I have had it since I was a small child, and I certainly wasn’t making out with anyone.

    However, as I’ve aged, I have felt the need to let people know that I have it before I kiss them; I can proudly say that I have never passed it on to someone else (or, at least, they’ve never shown symptoms). I have been in long-term relationships, and we’ve had to go for a week or so without kissing about once every two years, but that’s about the worst of it.

    You can always ask, but you’ll only get an honest answer out of honest people. So really, this is a question that can wait until you’ve got a good sense that you can trust the person you’re with.

    That goes for all of it, really. Take your time with people. And if someone is trying to sweep you off your feet, ask yourself this: Why is he trying so hard?

    (And, yes, I’m currently having a doozy of a flare-up. Things that trigger it for me: stress, too much sun, and, sadly, making out after not kissing for a while – so much for summer romance! lol)

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar


    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Yes, I know Herpes Simplex 1 isn’t technically an STD, although some consider it in the category because it can be passed to the genitals.

    I’m impressed that you disclose it before kissing. I don’t know many people who would unless they were having a flare up.

  3. J Avatar

    I’ve learned that kissing, after not kissing for some time, is one of the things that brings on a flare-up. While I don’t feel it’s necessary if it’s just a quick peck, I do give someone I’m about to really make-out with a heads-up; odds are good they’ll see something in a few days, and I’d rather let them know what they’re getting into up-front.

    Sadly, my last partner didn’t feel the need to tell me about his HPV infection, which will make me all that much more diligent about revealing, when I decide to become sexually active again. I probably would have gone ahead with the relationship because I had feelings for him, but I would have felt like I’d made a conscious choice to expose myself. That’s all I’m trying to offer: the opportunity to make a conscious choice.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if all people felt that way?

  4. Darren Miller Avatar

    I think that with so many infections and STDs going around these days you have no choice but to be careful and look after yourself as well as your partner.

    If you know that you are prone to the herpes simplex virus why would you not want to tell your partner, no matter how new the relationship? By being honest with them and letting them make up their own mind, they are more likely to trust you and appreciate your honesty.

    Regarding midlife dates not using protection with new partners, that is ridiculous. They are old enough to know better. You cannot tell who has an STD by looking at them. It doesn’t matter whether they are the most outstanding member of the community who attends church and has only had one sexual partner in their life.

    This doesn’t say anything about their previous partner where they may have contracted a virus from. Wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?

  5. Rachelle Avatar

    My BF and I decided to get tested after the first time we had sex. I brought it up because I realized we had not had the discussed sex so it was not an a easy conversation to have but it was the right thing to do. We both felt better knowing that we whad done the right thing. Must of us over 40 been married or in serious relationship before we met our current mate so it is important to be responsible.
    Thank you for bringing up up this topic.

  6. J Avatar

    Getting tested up-front is great, but you still have to protect yourself. The second he sleeps with someone else, you’re exposed again. And you NEVER know if someone is cheating until you find out they’re cheating. While it would be nice to trust everyone, until you’re 100% sure about someone’s integrity, you have to act like you’re not the only person they’re sleeping with. Sad fact of life.

    And just my opinion, based on experience.