Last Updated on February 24, 2021 by Stacy Sampson, DO
STIs and Relationships
You mean to say, they can coincide harmoniously?!?! Yes.
Baloney. Er, Bologna. Total rubbish, and I’m leaving your website right now, because STIs and relationships have always resulted in epic failures of colossal proportions.
Epic failures of colossal proportions, huh? That’s one Hiroshima-esque STI, if you ask me! Lucky for you (and me) that statement is the exception and not the rule.
Although, it’s true, contracting an STI can feel emotionally and, sometimes, physically as if a sexually transmitted bomb has gone off in your genitals, generally, it does not mean the end of your relationships – family, friend, or partner(s).
So, let me back-track a bit. Today’s post will be part one in which I’ll refer to as The STI Project’s Guidebook about STIs and Relationships. Part one focuses on STIs and friendship. Part two will focus on STIs and family, and finally, part three will address STIs and partners.
STIs and Friends
Contracting an STI is devastating – to say the very least – and can be nearly debilitating or conversely, uplifting, depending on the support network one already has in place.
Friends are your chosen family and an integral part of that support network. Consequently, the response one receives from friends, as a result of contracting an STI, is often the most reassuring or can be the most devastating of blows.
After-all, one expects a partner to be taken aback, but one does not always anticipate a friend’s unkind reaction.
I have experienced both positive and negative reactions.
Most of my closest friends were loving, understanding, supportive, and provided a shoulder for me to cry on, bang my head on, or bury my face in. A couple others (a very very few number of others) were vindictive and spoke poorly of me while I wasn’t around.
Albeit, the malicious reactions I’ve received have been quite few and far between, I cannot write this without telling you how heavily it weighs on my heart there were any thoughtless reactions to begin with – especially, among people I once held in high regard – like, my friends. (Another reason why eradicating the stigma and The STI Project is so important – YEY!)
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Simply, they do not understand.
Herein lies the first of my messages to you – you who may have an STI, may not be sure if you have an STI, may know someone with an STI, etc. More often than not, a friend’s pernicious response to STIs and those who have them is a result of fear, insecurity, or ignorance.
This means there are a large number of people who don’t understand how near an STI is to them or how having one can truly feel. We, as an STI-laden kinda people, must embrace those misunderstandings and take them as just that, misunderstandings that have absolutely nothing to do with us personally.
The friends who are your closests and who love you unconditionally, as good friends should, will not regard you poorly. They will not speak badly about you to others, and they will hold their judgments.
Those are the friends you must treasure and to which you should focus your energy. A person who is willing to see you for who you are, regardless of your STI is, by definition, a good friend.
The rest are fleeting.
Misunderstanding does not = crappy people.
You might be reading my last paragraph and thinking, “Yeah, she’s right; the rest are all jerks, and I don’t need them.” Unfortunately, that’s not the whole of my message.
It’s so much more fun to say, “Screw them all!” (I’ve been there, and prolific mental swear words can be relieving – temporarily – I get it.)
All the same, the people who harm you now and say incredibly damaging things about you (to you or others are using their feebly chosen words in direct reflection of their minds and hearts). I swear, those things can sting, but they are also the same people who may come around, grow, and learn from their own experiences to become beautiful, loving individuals.
So, while you need to separate yourself from the harmful nature of their words right now (which, I highly suggest you do), there may come a time when those same individuals either need your help or reach out to you again as a friend. And at that point, you get to decide how much grace you afford to them, if any.
“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” ~ George Washington
Be the Change You Wish To See
Where did that come from?! I don’t want to be the change I wish to see – these people have been mean to me!
Well, when those same individuals come to you for help, forgiveness, or maybe they never come to you again, take this entire experience as a lesson in friendship.
Be amazing to those who have stood beside you, and be as gracious as possible to the ones who do return while still maintaining your boundaries. All people change and grow – you will too as a result of an STI.
Don’t let it ruin you – let it empower you.
“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
- Part 2 of: STIs and Relationships – The STI Project’s Guidebook – Family
- Part 3 of: STIs and Relationships – The STI Project’s Guidebook – Partners
- How to Not Give an Eff about Having an STI
- All about Herpes Disclosure
- STI/STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- STI Stigma
- When Do You Have to Tell Someone You Have an STI/STD?
- How To Tell Someone You Have an STI
- A Healthy Helping of STI Hater-Aid
- Anger and The Person Who Gave Me Genital Herpes/Scabies