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You Asked: How Can I Get Over My Guilt?

Dear Sugar,

I've been dating my boyfriend for almost a year and we've been friends for three years before that. We're very much in love and plan on getting married and having kids. About four years ago I found out that I have HPV which developed into genital warts — I've since had treatment and the warts are gone. I never told my boyfriend for fear that he wouldn't have wanted to be with me, but the guilt was killing me so I told him the truth this week. He reacted very well and we are still together, but I'm a wreck about all this. How can I let go of my guilt so it doesn't affect my relationship any more than it already has? — Remorseful Renata

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Remorseful Renata,

I'm glad to hear that you've told your boyfriend the truth about your HPV, because as I'm sure you know, you can pass it to him even if you have no signs of genital warts. With that said, it's imperative that he gets tested and I urge you to use condoms every time you have sex, if you aren't already taking that preventive measure.

A diagnosis of an STI can go hand-in-hand with a lot of guilt and shame, so if you're still experiencing those feelings, I suggest talking about it with a trusted friend, your boyfriend, or a therapist. You can also call an anonymous hotline — they hire trained individuals who have a wealth of information about all STIs and great tips on how to cope with them. Carrying around any kind of guilt has the ability to eat you up inside, so turn to those around you for support and hopefully now that you've told your boyfriend the truth, your guilt will dissipate with time.


Join The Conversation
whawha whawha 8 years
This subject is really hard to talk about, due to the fact that the person experiencing these feeling is extremely difficult for htem to talk about it. The only reason why I know this, is because I contracted HPV recently. I am engaged to be married and we both want to have children. I didn't know to much about HPV, only that it was an STI. There are so many sites available for resources, research and education on the virus is vial on how to accept, cope and deal with the diagnoses. 80% of people actually contract HPV, The reason why they dont test for it in a regular STI testing, is because it way to common. There are about 100 strains of the virus. two can cause GW's, and two can cause Cervical Cancer. You and your partner can get tested for it to see what kind of HPV strain you have but that comes with a price. Just ask your doctor for that option.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have to agree with you that it's really a great thing that you found a way to share that with him, that you told him because that's something that he does have a right to know. i think that sometimes we under estimate people and think that they are going to be more upset with things than they are - and i think that if you guys are careful and smart about things, then you won't really have anything to worry about.
Deidre Deidre 8 years
Should you have told him sooner? Probably. But you eventually own up to the truth, so you have to let go of at least a little of your guilt. Sugeest to him that he have a general physician check him out and run all the basic SDI tests. The vast majority of men (esp in their 20s) have NEVER done this. He could very well have been a carrier for something without ever showing any symptoms (and unknowingly passed something on to you). This is something you both have to take seriously. You have to let go of your guilt -- what's done is done. You'll deal with it best by being a responsible adult about sex from here on out.
K-is-For-Kait K-is-For-Kait 8 years
You did the right thing by telling your boyfriend, so don't feel guilty about that part. Maybe there's some embarrassment involved? Either way, you should talk to someone like a therapist.
talanted08 talanted08 8 years
I wouldn't feel so out of place about it b/c your a women who actually told her partner. Most women tend to deal with these issues on there own b/c for one they know that it's something that want harm there partner and for two it's curable! As long as he respected the fact that you did what was right by informing him then don't let this effect your life. Take some of these comments to heart b/c there informing you on some issues that can help in the long run! Stay Safe!!
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
^^agreed! he might have something and not know it!
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
No, I mean he needs to be tested in general...he could have something he doesn't even know about... that should just be done these days.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
***do you know how many people have at least something? Not many. = crazy statement... I mean... do you know how many people DO NOT have at least something? :OY:
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
LOL - it's all on the CDC website... But seriously... he can't be tested for HPV.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
goodness princess... you have the scoop huh! LOL I remember many girls having this in high school and the Army! It's very, very common. Unfortunately, one of my friends couldn't have children later so get tested yearly when you are sexually active! Test to make sure you have nothing now and let the guilt go... do you know how many people have at least something? Not many. I feel blessed to have had 3 children...I know I've been tested for many things at least three time! You almost feel like you've won the lottery it's so hard to not contract anything the way people sleep around and cheat. Forgive yourself and share the guilt with him. If he's worth entrusting your body to...he's worst talking to. And ah..he should be tested to. Until then like ^they said...use a condom.
nycactres nycactres 8 years
Condoms don't offer 100% protection. HPV infection is very common, but it usually clears, or is suppressed by the immune system, within 1-2 years.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
(oh, and you shoulda told him.)
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
p.s. from the CDC: "At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives." AND "For those who choose to be sexually active, condoms may lower the risk of HPV, if used all the time and the right way. Condoms may also lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. But HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom—so condoms may not fully protect against HPV. So the only sure way to prevent HPV is to avoid all sexual activity." So Dear, I take issue with your advice about condoms. Of course condoms lower the risk, but if at this point they've not been using them, he's already got it.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
HPV is a really complicated thing - people can have it for many years and never know. It is extremely common. There are so many varieties and there is no test for men. Some women never develop symptoms; clearly you had one of the varieties that causes warts. Some cause cervical anomalies leading to cancer; others don't do anything, and never manifest. Some varieties cycle through the body and disappear; others are with you for life. Wearing a condom doesn't fully protect against it, since it's often transmitted skin-to-skin. If your boyfriend had sex with women before you, there is a good chance he may have given you one variety of it and not known (since men never have any symptoms, can't be tested for it, and therefore don't know if they have it or can pass it on). I'm just telling you all this to have you realize that HPV is really different from HSV (herpes), gonorrhea, chlamydia, AIDS, and all those other STIs. Women really have an unfair disadvantage with HPV and, I would say, a disproportionate amount of guilt. That is why the most reliable thing to do for women is to have a yearly Pap smear. Warts are not the worst that can happen with HPV - you were actually lucky you found out that way, because most varieties never cause warts. Cervical cancer is the worst thing that can happen. So given everything we know about the virus, and the fact that there is NO test for men (hence no way to prevent them from passing it around), the best methods of prevention are a) abstinence (and no skin-on-skin contact around the genitals, either) or b) continuing to go to the gynecologist and get Pap smears regularly. Of course, everyone should always wear a condom and be safe if sexually active. The thing is, though, the deck is stacked against you on this. Your boyfriend will not be the one to suffer from HPV; if you two break up, then he may pass it to the next woman he sleeps with, and she'll be dealing with it. That's who you really should worry about.
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