Dear Dr. NerdLove,
Three years ago, I met a girl that I’m going to call J, and she quickly became the closest friend I’ve ever had. We have the same hobbies, same taste in music, and same sense of humor, and I’ve never had as much fun with anyone as I’ve had with her. To this day I still don’t know what I would do without this girl in my life.
When we first met, J had recently been cheated on and dumped by her boyfriend of four years. She was going through a lot of heartbreak and self esteem issues at that time, so she was kind of sleeping around. A few months after we met, she was diagnosed with genital herpes. My heart broke for her when she told me, and I was as supportive as I could be. I remember her telling me that when she got the news, her doctor told her she had to disclose this to every partner before having sex with them.
I vividly remember the first time after her diagnosis that she hooked up with another guy. She had texted me saying she was going to his house to hang out. I said something like, “Oh, so if you guys end up having sex, you’re gonna have to have the conversation?” And she said, “I’m not going to have sex with him.”
A few hours later, she texted me saying, “That was the worst sex I’ve ever had.” I asked, “How did the conversation go?” She never texted me back.
Ever since then, I’ve been painfully aware of her sleeping with many other guys without disclosing to them. I’ve tried talking to her about it multiple times over the years, but she doesn’t seem to take it seriously. I think her way of coping with it is pretending she doesn’t have it. It has always bothered me, but lately it’s been eating me alive.
She just got into a serious relationship for the first time since her ex of four years. His name is D. I don’t know him super well, but I’ve met him a few times, and he seems like a really nice guy with a good head on his shoulders. She’s been sleeping with him without any form of protection for the last 3 months, and he has no idea he could easily get a lifelong infection from her.
A few weeks ago, they somehow got on the topic of STDs. He mentioned that a friend of his has herpes, and then he literally told her that if she had herpes and didn’t tell him, he would dump her as soon as he found out. She was upset when telling me about this and acted like she knew she had to tell him and was going to figure out the best way and time to do so. I told her that sooner is better than later and that she should not have sex with him again until she tells him, because he would be even more upset if she continued having sex with him after that conversation. She agreed and said she would.
A week went by and I hadn’t heard anything. I also knew she had spent the night at his house at least once during that week. I reached out to her again with a long text message listing all of the consequences of not telling him. She said she had thought of all of that and that she would tell him as soon as she was ready.
Another week went by and she texted me saying something about having sex with him in her car. I was super upset and could not believe she was telling me that after everything I had expressed to her.
I can’t do this anymore. I feel like I am an accessory to a crime. What is my obligation in this situation? I feel awful standing by silently while he is in danger of contracting this incurable virus. I also do not want to lose this friendship. Please don’t tell me to end my friendship. If I tell him myself, my friendship will end. If I threaten to tell him myself, my friendship will end. What should I do?
What’s up doc?
I’m a heterosexual male who is about to turn 26 in a few days. I’m an average guy on good days (I don’t pass the Grimes Test with flying colors) who has never been in a relationship. I consider my social skills to be below par than a lot of people, especially when you consider the fact that I haven’t even had a single friend from the opposite sex in my entire life.
Up until this point, this might sound like any other letter that you receive but this is where it gets interesting.
I have had type-1 diabetes for over a decade and a half now. To add to that, just before I turned 20, I was diagnosed with AIDS (not sexually transmitted).
I know that you repeatedly mention that you are not an actual doctor and I acknowledge and completely respect that. Moreover, you have covered some extremely complex issues, including stuff like living with STDs and chronic illnesses in some of your articles. But this letter is about something else. This is about the practicality of pursuing a relationship while living with such issues.
As I mentioned before, I am an average guy living with 2 chronic illnesses (3, if you consider the psychological issues that come with them). Whenever I look online for advice on whether someone with chronic illnesses should pursue love, relationships, a social life and all of that, the standard answer is that we deserve to be as happy as anyone else and therefore, we should go for it. But the fact that you have a tendency to delve deeper into such issues beyond the obvious, here is what I’d like to know from you:
How fair is it for the person living with something like AIDS to pursue a relationship with a person who may not have it? Consider the number of single guys out there who are looking to be in a relationship with any given girl (I know about oneitis but generally speaking). Out of all those guys, there must be some who are at least comparable to what I am and what I can provide in the relationship. But they do not come with the 2 chronic illnesses, one of which can threaten the life and well-being of the partner. So, why should a girl choose me over someone else who does not have my illnesses, considering that I do not bring anything special to the table? Now, add to that the issues like stigma that the disease brings with it, the other person will be made to go through troubles that they will never know when being with a healthy person.
More importantly, how right is it for someone like me, morally speaking, to even try to look for someone to be in a relationship with when I cannot ensure the health and well-being of myself, let alone my partner?
So in a nutshell, is it even practical for me to try to pursue a relationship?
Thank you for all your help,