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Although telling someone you’re interested in can be intimidating, there are different ways to do it, and you might find one easier than the others.

In the past, Carlson would put the herpes conversation on the table quickly.

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“On a first date with this wonderful guy, I told him, and he couldn’t handle it,” she says.

“I really wonder if it would have changed things to wait until we had connected more.”On the flip side, she’s also dated “quite a few guys who didn’t care at all” even though she told them ASAP.

To top it all off, she also tells them they don’t have to make a decision about whether to continue seeing her—or even respond—right away. But I usually peace out so they have their space to chew on it,” she says.

Davis says the number one question they get on The STD Project is about how to tell a new partner.

“I mostly thought, ‘I’m going to die alone, no one’s going to date me ever again,” she tells SELF.

Although herpes is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases, it’s shrouded in stigma.But all the self-acceptance in the world doesn’t erase the fact that a herpes diagnosis creates ripple effects of shame and social isolation, and the fallout is especially pronounced when it comes to your dating life.“It’s good to have the conversation because there is a potential risk of transmission,” Cherrell Triplett, M.D., an ob/gyn who practices at Southside OBGYN and Franciscan Alliance in Indianapolis, Indiana, tells SELF.On sites like Positive Singles and HMates, users are expected to be open about their diagnoses, but because they know everyone else there has an STD, too, it removes a huge barrier—and the question of whether the information will send a potential partner packing.“It’s a great way to see you’re still the same interesting, sexy, desirable person,” Davis says.“It helps rebuild the confidence that gets hammered down when you get that diagnosis.” (She is a spokesperson for Positive Singles, but she’s never used any STD-specific dating site.)Carlson, who got back into dating via this kind of site after her diagnosis, agrees.Davis usually holds off on disclosing to potential sexual partners that she has herpes until she’s known them for a bit.

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