The gift that keeps on giving

Happy Friday. Yesterday was emotionally exhausting, yes? Things I like about the new comments: They go up fast, there are no impersonators, and supposedly, with this new system, you guys can message one another directly. No more having to pass e-mail addresses through me. Things I hate about the new comments: You can’t see all of them on one page. And they’re not numbered (although they do have a time stamp). My bosses say we should try it for a week before we mutiny and demand the old system back. I’m willing to do that. Let’s see how we feel in a week. And now ... travel with me to STD Island:
Hey there Meredith, I don’t know where to start, other than saying I haven’t see this situation in your column of late … I am in my mid 30s, female, attractive, well-educated, gainfully employed, and live just outside the city. Not too long ago, I was dumped by a man I’ve know for 5 yrs. We used to work together, and 2 yrs ago, we decided to take that friendship up a notch. We started becoming intimate( I left the company on my own volition) and we had 2 great yrs of being BF/GF. He was wonderful., attentive, successful, emotionally stable and honest (or so I thought). We were very compatible – sexually, intellectually, and socially. He even discussed marriage and a lifetime together. Then, out of the blue, not long before he dumped me… BOMBSHELL. He tells me he has an STD (the gift that keeps giving). Never once when we were intimate did he divulge this dilemma with me. We practiced safe sex from time to time (didn’t think I had to every time with him, he’s not the type to sleep around randomly at all). He said that he got it from a girl he dated right before meeting me. He never gave me reason as to why he no longer wanted to date me … BTW, he’s 35 Problem – I have now left him in my past. But, because of what he has shared with me, he’s still somewhat in the picture … or so to speak, his gift … I want to move on and meet a quality man because I am a quality woman … but now I have the scarlet STD on my chest. I have tried online dating sites for people with STDS. They haven’t been positive as most of the men are not really of my liking intellectually … I feel though I shouldn’t be banished to those sites like a leper. I would like to try the other more popular sites -- Eharmony and Match. My question: Is it fair to be meet men on these sites if I have an STD? If so, when do I need to tell them? First date? Second date? Rejection is my biggest fear, but I am a human being with feelings was cursed by a now-known jerk!! I would love some advice, assurance that life will be OK, guidance, support, lambaste if your readers find a reason for that. But I need help how to navigate this next stage of a horrible stage in my life … I really feel I’ll never meet another man who’ll accept me.

– 21st Century REAL Scarlet Letter, Boston

21CRSL, let’s put your scarlet letter in perspective. If you Google STD stats, you’ll see how many people have something, often without even knowing it. You’re not such a minority. Take a deep breath. I’m not downplaying the situation – it’s your physical health, after all – but I don’t see why your scarlet letter can’t be lowercase. Some people feel like damaged goods because of an STD. Others are ashamed because they’re hiding whopping financial debt. Some people are afraid to tell dating prospects that they see a therapist or that they take anti-depressants. My point is, there are many types of scarlet letters. We all come to the dating table with secret shame, sometimes for no good reason. The short answer is, no matter what STD you have, you’re not a leper. You don’t have to live on STD Island. You do have to disclose your situation before you get physical with anyone. That’s what your ex should have done. But as we now know, your ex was a coward. Some guys will run when they hear about your STD. Some won’t. You never know how someone will feel about a scarlet letter until you tell them. But I know this for a fact -- many people would rather date a fantastic, self-aware person with a flaw than someone who’s flawless. I give you permission to try the normal dating sites. Just do what your ex didn’t. Disclose before you undress (or make out, depending on the STD). And give yourself a break. As you date, remind yourself that the STD is just one thing that makes you who you are. It’s not the most important thing, by any means. If you can love yourself with this STD and calm down about it, others will, too. Readers? Does she have to stick to the STD dating sites? Is this scarlet letter as horrible as she thinks it is? When does she have to disclose? Share here.

– Meredith