When falling in love, protecting your head, your heart and your body should be a given because that shit can always backfire.
Going through a divorce was not easy for me, and like many people I was left broken-hearted; I loved my husband and for years, my marriage and family was my main focus. Being a wife and mom defined me. I was aching from the split, yet I wasn’t ready to give up on love, but dating was a challenge; mainly because most of the men I found myself attracted to had some semblance to my ex. If a guy had a well shaped beard and a deep, commanding voice — I was interested. If he was 6’ 4” tall with broad shoulders and husky-built, he could get it. Afterwhile, I noticed the pattern. I wasn’t interested in these guys as individuals, I was interested in the idea of a guy, masquerading them as my husband. Twisted psychology — I know. I was with tied to my husband so long, I didn’t know what it was like to experience something different. However, in order to move beyond my marriage and piece my life back together, I had to try something completely different. So I did and different is exactly what I got.
I wasn’t ready to give up on love, but dating was a challenge
Different showed up in a man who was the antithesis of my husband. Clean-shaven, perfectly-lined goatee, average height, and slim build. He was the type who always greeted me with a bear hug and a smile that could light a midnight sky. He was not the typical guy I was used to dealing with in anyway. He was a good listener and he was expressive. He was playful, but also firm with me, and the way he fucked me was a bonus. I was addicted to him almost immediately. It didn’t take me long to put claims on him and go all the way in. I cooked for him, cleaned for him, motivated him, our children grew fond of each other. Then one day, it dawned on me — he was part of my life, but I was not part of his. He had met all of my family while I, on the other hand, never met his.
I was addicted to him almost immediately.
At first, I thought it was just in his nature to be private and keep folks out of his business; I accepted that. But after two years, I realized that was nothing but a weak case for avoiding public displays of affection and introducing me to his family and friends. These were clear flags, but I was convinced that I was in a solid relationship with this man who was oh so different. Yet, I was the only one invested. Whenever I brought these issues to his attention, and asked about the status of our relationship, he’d deflect and say things like “We good. We friends and lovers.”
Before long, I was being pushed away and brushed to the side for time with his homies, and still not being invited to his family functions. I simply refused to believe that he thought I wasn’t good enough to be introduced to his peoples. I just knew he would eventually profess his love for me so the whole world could see. I was caught up in the idea of him being “different” and for a minute, I was delusional as fuck.
My wake-up call came while receiving test results from an annual check-up. I should’ve known something was off when my gynecologist asked me to follow-up in person opposed to giving me her findings over the phone. I sat in that waiting room nervous and sweating profusely. My palms were clammy and I was hella scared about what I might learn.
Once my name was called, my doctor lead me to her office and broke the news gently: “You have herpes simplex virus 2.”
When I heard those four words, I freaked the fuck out! My doctor had to call a staff nurse to help calm me down. They actually gave me a xanax pill. I was inconsolable. I cried for an hour in office — then all night long, once I made it home. After all these years, all these failed relationships, I never caught one sexually transmitted disease — not one. As I reflected, I remembered feeling a tingling discomfort between my legs from time to time. I remember a painful bump, too. I remember thinking it was a boil or hair bump. Two years spent with a man I considered “different” and I contract fucking herpes — HERPES.
“You have herpes simplex virus 2.”
When I confronted ole boy, there was no accountability whatsoever. He didn’t even say ‘I’m sorry.’ He focused mainly on my accusations of cheating; he simply defended himself saying “We weren’t really a couple,” so he wasn’t really cheating. He had the audacity to define our relationship as a friends with benefits situation. He kept his head down, scrolling through his phone, never once making eye contact with me. I wanted to hog spit in his face for being so nonchalant and not once making it plain, and putting me at risk, but deep down inside, he was right. The entire relationship was in my head, and this man wasn’t so different after all. He was your typical fuckboy and womanizer, gaslighting and sharing his dick elsewhere. For the two years we were involved, that man had never truly claimed me as his woman, and to a fault, I put myself at risk. Having unprotected sex with him without an inkling of commitment was my own poor judgement. He treated me like a friend and the benefit just wasn’t even worth it.
friends with benefits ain’t always beneficial.
It took me another two years and a couple of support groups to become comfortable in my skin, and to accept that having HSV2 is very much a part of my life. My life is different. However, it doesn’t define me. A man’s validation no longer defines me either.
I know God has someone in store who will accept me for me, and not for past mistakes. And hopefully, my story will reinforce to women that you can’t trust some good dick and a smile.
Submitted by: Anonymous Voiceful Reader
Edited by: Senior Editor, Ida Harris