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You Asked: Should I Tell Him the Truth?

Dear Sugar,

I recently started dating a new guy. We hung out all last weekend and it was amazing. We are supposed to hang out tonight with our mutual friends, but I have a small problem — I have a cold sore on my lip and I'm not sure if I should be forthright about it or if I should even go out at all.

I really like this guy and I don't want to scare him away with an "STD" on my lip. Also, we have kissed before and I'm afraid that he'll try to kiss me and I'll have to explain this mess. My friends think I should go because it's his problem if he judges, but I'm just not sure. What do you think? — Embarrassed Emily

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Embarrassed Emily,

I'm sorry that you're dealing with a cold sore right now, that can't be any fun. While your girlfriends have a point, I can also completely understand why you would want to skip out on the night altogether to avoid a potentially awkward situation. If I had to put myself in your shoes, I'd probably stay home even though some would say it's the easy way out.

If you and this guy end up dating, the fact that you get cold sores on your mouth is going to have to be discussed, but the timing has to be right. If you don't feel like you're ready to confide in him yet, and if you can't gage what his reaction could be, I'd sit this date out. If you think he can be a mature adult about it, I'd enjoy a fun night out with all your friends and not let your cold sore get the best of you. Only you can make this decision so do whatever feels right. Good luck!


Join The Conversation
silver-lining342482 silver-lining342482 8 years
60-90% of people when tested are found to be carriers of HSV1, the common cold sore virus. not everyone who has HSV1 actually gets cold sores, it's individual for everyone. But if you test positive for HSV1, you are a carrier and have antibodies and are protected from picking it up again from anyone. So just because someone does not get cold sores or never remembers having had one does NOT mean that they don't already have HSV1. Therefore, the majority of the population does not have to worry about anyone's cold sore being especially contagious. But for the minority of the adult population who still have managed to get through life without picking up HSV1 so far, they do have to worry about it. Even without a cold sore, HSV1 carriers are found to be contagious about 20% of the time - because the virus can shed without symptoms. So those who are negative for HSV1 can potentially pick up the virus either orally (kissing) or genitally (oral sex) from the majority of people they will be with. If you manage to be infected with type 1 herpes genitally, luckily it doesn't behave the same way as type 2 does in the genital area. Most people who have an episode of type 1 genitally never have a recurrence. for those who do, they only average 1 every other year. and the virus only sheds without symptoms from that area 3-5% of the time. So, someone who has HSV1 orally is contagious 20% of the time. Someone who has HSV1 genitally is only contagious 3-5% of the time. Kind of interesting that in this light, having HSV1 genitally would actually be more preferable! The perceived stigma of something being genital is a lot greater than the reality of it. To recap: if you are HSV1 negative (which you can find out from a blood test), you are at risk to potentially pick up HSV1 from the majority of the population, either orally or genitally. But you are most likely to get it from someone who has it orally. Either way, if it happens, it happens. embarrassment should have nothing to do with it because it is incredibly common, hard to escape, and way more people have HSV1 then don't. Staying home from a date because of a cold sore or outbreak is NOT unnecessary... but simply being mature, upfront, honest, informed and confident about it is. After all, if Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner can step out with active cold sores, so can anyone!
cptnruthless cptnruthless 9 years
My brother is 10, and he gets cold sores all the time, especially when sick - and has so for most of his life! A simple test will let you know if you've got a true STD, or just a cold sore, which 85% of people have! If you're worried that this guy might judge you because of it, he's probably immature... and you should reconsider why exactly you're dating him in the first place!
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
Technically HSV 1 & 2 are generally classified as STI's (sexually transmitted infections) Yes, the reason that the stats are so high for people with HSV 1 is because most people as children are kissed by an aunt, a grandmother, someone who has the virus and doesn't know it, and passes it on. Cold Sores are an STI, if they occur on your lip, your nose, some people have them even more aggressively on their face. They are transmittable, so don't talk yourself into believing that they can not be passed on, they can. Fran, it is very common in the early winter months for people to get cold sores. Yes, immune systems being down is a big reason for it, as is the dry air, dry skin, and probably a lot more triggers out there. The reason that your husband doesn't get them is one of two things. Either he hasn't been infected with them yet, or he already has it, and is just one of the 60-80% of infected people who will never have a cold sore from the virus. Yes, people freaking out about it really does perpetuate the stigma. Just a heads up, don't do any smooching, anywhere, when you have an active sore. It's still possible to pass it on without a sore present. Usually someone who transmits that infection has an active sore, but you can pass it on by shedding w/o a sore being present. And to the one poster who mentioned Valtrex, if you get cold sores a lot, and they seem unstoppable, there are three drugs available when taken on a daily regimen can actually stop you from getting them at all, and greatly reduce the chance of passing them on!
sunnyheart sunnyheart 9 years
fran441 and theperfect score... cold sores are most DEFINITELY different than cankersores! Cankersores, the kind you get on the inside of your mouth almost everyone gets, and many people get them even as children, and especially when they are stressed. Cold sores are on the outside of your mouth and generally take a long time to heal, and can be healed with the help of things like abreva and are very noticeable near your lip. One is most definitely herpes. I don't think this lovely lady would be so stressed about a cankersore. I know it is hard, and I don't want to be judgmental, but I wouldn't kiss someone with a visible sore on their lip, not on the second date!
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
you have a cold sore. tell him. it's not like you got it from giving h*ad. if he freaks out about it, then he's just some uneducated kid. we don't have time for kids . . . .
Eternity Eternity 9 years
even my cat has herpes. I don't see why people make such a huge deal out of it
Berlin Berlin 9 years
You should absolutely tell him and anyone else you plan to kiss if you have it, and you should not get upset if he refrains from kissing you when you have an outbreak, but that should be the end of it. If he freaks out and wants nothing to do with you, then that's way past being judgemental and you shouldn't have to worry about that. But you should be respectful and give him the chance, and if you are upfront, then it seems far less of a big deal and also shows you are trustworthy. And make sure you aren't drinking after people and them you! Otherwise it just gets spread around more and that is certainly not what we need in this world lol. Lighten up and tell the boy and let him make his choice. If he freaks then isn't better to know that now then having to deal with the inevitable reaction later on when you are serious?
Swen Swen 9 years
I get cold sores, and I've never let that be an issue with dating. It's a different form of herpes from genital herpes. You can easily tell him this. It's really nothing to be worried about. Just don't kiss him until it clears up.
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 9 years
OMG ppl cold sores are not STDs.... in fact most people come into contact with the virus a few times in their lives whether directly like kissing or indirectly by eating after someone... some ppl are carriers and only a small portion of the ppl who have the virus experience symptoms... that being said its nothing to be ashamed and most ppl contract the virus as a child way before being sexually active or even knowing what sex is. I've gotten cold sores since I was a little kid and I just avoid dates until the sore has healed... No big deal. Just refrain from contact at the 1st sign of the sore.. aka the tingle and until the sore has fully healed... to be sure to prevent spreading the virus. But ppl with a strong immune system are able to fight off the virus and the chances of spreading it when there is not a sore present is slim. I've kissed plenty of ppl and eaten after tons of ppl and its no big deal. You can live a normal life. I have yet to tell someone I've kissed that I have get cold sores b/c that's usually the last thing on my mind, but I would NEVER KISS IF I THINK I'M GETTING ONE... that's just a major respect thaing And to help lessen the number of cold sores or shorten healing time get a prescription for Valtrex (it's not just for genital herpes)... it works wonders and it prevents the cold sore from rearing its nasty head...
Jeny Jeny 9 years
Stay home! Let's not spread STD's shall we?
fran441 fran441 9 years
This is the weirdest exchange I have ever read. I have been susceptible to cold sores ever since I was a young kid - I get them when my immune system is under stress (having a cold, getting too much sun, being run-down, being nervous about something, etc). It has nothing to do STDs. I get them a few times a year, usually in the winter when the weather and darkness get to me. My husband and I have been together for 20 years, and he has never had one, because he does not have a susceptibility, and I'm sure we have shared all of our germs many times over. It would never even occur to me to be embarrassed about it or not go out as a result, or feel a need to explain anything to anyone. And I have never gotten any feedback of this kind from anyone. Am I missing something or are you all paranoid??!!
almost-famous almost-famous 9 years
What's so bad about telling him?
acemonkey acemonkey 9 years
Cold sores are cold sore and everyone gets them. I wouldn't let it bother you. I would be embarrassed about it also, but if he's a good guy he will understand. If you are truly embarassed about the situation and do not want to go, just say you aren't feeling very well and stay at home.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I do not think having a cold sore is that big of deal. If you freak out about it than he is going to be freaked out by it. I have a friend that gets them all the time and she does not let it affect her life.
oatmeal_bliss oatmeal_bliss 9 years
Ella 1978 clear up what I was just about to clear up. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) I used to apply just to cold sores, or basically any herpes lesion above the waist. HSV II used to apply only to genital herpes lesions, those lesions that are below the waist. Now it is all up for grabs! That being said, I would probably stay home also... and I wouldn't feel bad about it. I think you would feel worse if you went and were constantly worried about people staring at "it" or "it" grossing your boyfriend out. I guess you have to way the pros against the cons.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
Why do you have "STD" in quote marks? Do you know for sure what it is? Have you gotten it checked by a doctor? Anyway, if this is a dealbreaker for him, it's going to be a dealbreaker no matter how long you've been seeing each other. Better to find out before you get too attached. In fact, I think it's only right to tell someone BEFORE exposing them to any infectious diseases. Whoever infected you didn't tell you because, most likely, that person was too embarrassed to say anything, so please be better than that and don't do the same thing to someone else. Honestly, it's keeping STDs all hush-hush and "embarrassing" that perpetuates the "weirdness", not the people who don't want to catch it. Most people wouldn't feel horrible about the fact that other people don't want to kiss them when they have a cold. Not wanting to catch an infectious disease from you is NOT the same thing as rejection of you as a person, okay? ella1978, thanks for the stats and info. Wow, it's astounding that such a high percentage of people have STDs, but not surprising considering how far too many people thinks their "rep" or whatever trumps other people's health. No kidding, chances are, he already has something worse than cold sores. So think about it, how would it feel to have the shoe on the other foot? How would you like it if someone infects you with something worse than cold sores when they knew the whole time that they could pass their disease onto you?
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
Just to clear things up. Yes, cold sores = type 1 Herpes, but you can get type 1 on your genitals and still get sores down there. In fact up to 50% of all new cases of genital herpes are type 1. Because somewhere between 60-80% of all people over the age of 30 have type 1 orally (only 20-40% of those people will ever get a sore...) and because the frequency of people having oral sex has increased, doctors are seeing type 1 genitally a lot more frequently than before. It is usually a much more mild version of HSV, sometimes you have one outbreak a year, sometimes one and never again, and some people have it and never even know. You should be upfront with him before it get's sexual. Just kissing isn't a big deal, like I said, there's a chance he already has it, and most people don't ask before making out, so they sort of inherently accept the risk, but before it gets physical, you need to have the talk. It's awkward, but the fact is, you should both know what the other person has before it becomes physical. Go get tested and urge that he does too, then have a chat about it. It's the responsible thing to do. (PS, when getting tested, if you don't ask to be screened for herpes specifically, they don't test for it...) If you think it's too early to get into a "before we become sexual partners" talk, than I'd skip the event. Ok, off my soap box. Hope that helped.
ChelseaGirl ChelseaGirl 9 years
I have been dating my boyfriend for two years and right when we started hanging out, we had this exact same issue! He got a cold sore on his lip and he was just upfront about it. He certainly was embarassed, but I didn't care. I was so excited about the start of this amazing new relationship that I didn't mind waiting a couple days to smooch again. Plus, it adds an extra dose of sexual tension to have to wait. I wouldn't worry about it. Just be honest. He's going to be more concerned if you refrain from kissing without any explanation.
gossipqueen gossipqueen 9 years shouldn't have told your gf's about the reason why you wanna stay in...they might totally tell him now if you don't show up! I wouldn't go...I too early for him NOT to be turned off by it...and then I would be self-concious all night...everybody would be mentally marking their cups...and stuff like fun... wait it out...
kaenai kaenai 9 years
You know, the form of herpes that causes cold sores isn't usually the same type that causes genital lesions, so unless you know for sure that's where you got it from, you shouldn't be so embarrassed (in general). That said, I can imagine how it would feel to tell someone about it, or have to explain it, just as I can imagine what it would be like to be the one who meets someone for the first time and be wondering about it. DearSugar has hit it on the head; I'd stay home too. Rejection is no fun, especially when it's based on something you can't help. Try and reschedule if you can. Tell him "something suddenly came up" [/end Brady reference], and grab yourself some Abreva at your local pharmacy.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
I got impetigo on my chin a few months ago, and the doctor misdiagnosed it as herpes (a cold sore). My boyfriend of 2 years refused to kiss me for 2 weeks - which I understand, because who wants to catch herpes, right!! But it was really awful, I felt very self-conscious et rejected the whole time. He wasn't being a jerk about it at all, but it was really tough for me to handle. So props to you if you can go - personally, I'd stay home, and hide under the covers! Thing is, guys can be weird about medical stuff, especially sexually transmitted diseases (I saw my boyfriend recoil at my touch a bunch of times, it was soooo horrible!). DearSugar is totally right when she says you may want to wait until a more appropriate time in the relationship before divulging that kind of information. I don't know how long it takes to clear - my impetigo was there for almost 3 weeks; but if it only lasts a couple of days, you can reschedule if it makes you feel more comfortable!
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