Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Would You Love Her, Warts & All?

My co-worker/friend Poppy recently met a new guy. His name is Dean and he is 27. Poppy is 25.
They met and started dating about a month ago and really hit it off. Things started to get a bit serious on both of their parts. She met his family and he has met hers. They were together almost every day.
Dean is a virgin and is waiting until marriage. Poppy is not a virgin and has been with quite a few men (she estimates over 30) and unfortunately was not left unscathed from her encounters.
Poppy has HPV and a related strain of genital warts.
She was hesitant to tell Dean about her problem because she was afraid that it would ruin the prospect of something long term and serious. I encouraged her to tell him and be honest with him up front before they got really deep into a relationship because if they did get really serious that it could be perceived as a betrayal and could destroy anything between them.
Poppy told Dean on Sunday that she had HPV although she mentioned that genital warts could be a side effect she didn’t tell him that she also had the warts and that the re-occur about once per year.
Dean is reeling from the information that she has already given him. He told her that he needs to think and pray. What he has also done is seek the counsel of friends which is really upsetting to Poppy because she doesn’t like people to know and especially people that she may meet in the future if Dean is able to work through this with her.
Before Dean met Poppy he would only date virgins. He had extremely picky standards and wasn’t meeting the type of girl that he had outlined for himself. Now that he has met Poppy and there are genuine feelings he is freaking out that she has these issues to deal with.
I can see the situation from both sides and empathize with both of them.

What advice would you give them?


Anonymous said...

They should sit down and look at the facts together - 80% of women will contract HPV by age 50. Although the subject of STDs are hard to talk about, this is a very common virus. To me, the past is the past and what's important is the present and future.

dmarks said...

I'm not sure if it's better while Dean is still "reeling" or not, but Poppy should probably tell the rest of it to him soon.

I've done a little research on this and there are condoms and treatments that can make things a lot safer should things move along to the point of marriage. I don't know if this means completely safe, though.

Beth said...

I would tell Poppy that 'this is something you've done, it's not who you are.' She is more than a virus. And presumably she's much more discerning now?

She needs to be completely honest with Dean, because anything unknown could bite them both later, if there is a later.

I'm sad for both of them. Love is never perfect, but some things are more difficult for some people to accept than others. And definitely she needs to research the safety issue, whether Dean is the one for her or not.

dmarks said...

Also, about "She was hesitant to tell Dean about her problem because she was afraid that it would ruin the prospect of something long term and serious."

If there is something long term, Dean is going to find out about the problem eventually, right? So that that is going to happen regardless. What doesn't have to happen is some big problem/fight/heartbreak that would come about if she happens to hide anything like this. A lot better he find out earlier than later.

It might remind me a little bit of a couple of friends. She was at least as promiscuous. No idea if she had anything like this, but it was probably likely...and more. He was at least as virginal. They've been married for more than 20 years now, and have lived happily ever after. 3 or 4 kids (lost count).

"Poppy" said...

Anonymous - Thank you for what you said. This is something I asked to do with him last night, but he wanted to research alone - or with his roommate, since they were going to chit-chat. We have talked, too, about the fact that this is my past and I've asked him to forgive me for it and to move with me into the future.

dmarks - He knows I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and that I've been working with my doctor. He also knows, as Rach said, that there is a possibility of warts. He asked if any of my ex's have come down with anything and to my knowledge they have not. I have kept in contact with a few, so I would know if something were to transpire. And I mentioned to him that this is not something we even have to worry about for a while, since he's waiting until marriage for intercourse. Hopefully by then it's all under control and gone.

Rachel said...

Anon ~ The statistics are scary but if you love someone how much does it really matter?
I have an acquaintance that contracted herpes and genital warts with the first person that she was intimate with. She is now happily married and has at least one child.

dmarks ~ I agree. Honesty is the best policy as uncomfortable as it is.

beth ~ Love is hard even if things seem perfect on the surface.

dmarks ~ That is an awesome story about the couple that you know.

Poppy ~ You go girl. I know that it is difficult for you to discuss this even though I used a pseudonym.

dmarks said...

Glad no one objected already: my use of the word "promiscuous", after I looked it up, means something worse than I intended. "Many partners" was what I meant, nothing beyond that.

Churlita said...

It's all so tricky. I think if the guy can't get over it, then he doesn't deserve Poppy who seems great in all the important ways.

Hopefully, this kind of story will become obsolete in the future, with the new HPV vaccine which should protect women from many forms of HPV.

Erica said...

I agree with everybody, Poppy should now be completely honest, so that hopefully they can start again with a clean slate. Secondly, if he loves her, none of this should matter. I know his principles are important, but the past is past, we all make mistakes and we were all young once. I have had my share of mistakes! But nobody today judges me on those mistakes.
I think he should just appreciate and love her honesty and forget the rest. Honesty is far more important than anything else to survive in any relationship.

"Poppy" said...

You all are being so great about this! I just hope he can see things the way you all do. I'm still very scared that he will reconsider and drop me like a bad habit. We've been talking; there has been a lot of communication over the past few days, I just haven't seen him (which, as you know, is unusual) and I still haven't heard a definate decision from him.

I know he cares about me - the mutual friend who introduced us said he can't wait to get away when he knows he'll get to see or talk to me right after that, including last night. She also said he can be very stubborn, which means I get to hang out in misery until he decides if he cares enough about me to overlook this. I think he just wants to be more informed about it before he lets me know, which is good and can sound promising. At least that's what I'm going with for now.

I just don't know if he's still planning on attending the rehersal dinner Friday night for my brother's wedding...

Tara said...

Poppy I admire you for having the courage to tell him. It shows responsibility on your part. Give him a little more time to sort things out in his head and then talk it over again. I wish you both the best of luck in your relationship!

Thomas said...

I always think of dating as a coin - one side is reality and one side is our narrow view of what we expect.

I have had some happy surprises in my life. I think Dean may discover that he has made one himself.

Rachel said...

dmarks ~ How DARE you use the term promiscuous!!!!! I am SO offended...hehehe..just kidding.

churlita ~ I agree. Poppy is a great girl. Unfortunately HPV isn't the only STD out there. I can't believe that they still haven't found a cure for herpes. HIV scares the shit out of me.

Erica ~ Amen sister! Honesty is the reason that I encouraged her to tell him about it.
She has been on pins and needles for 2 days now and I can't imagine how much worse it would have been had she waited months to tell him

Poppy ~ I have seen you two together (pre disclosure). It was really cute (in a sickly sweet kinda way) to see how happy you two were togehter.

Tara ~ Poppy is a brave little flower! I hope that everything works out for them.

Thomas ~ dating has a bright shiny side like a newly minted penny. But just like a penny it either becomes slightly tarnished but still pretty or dirty, corroded and in need of replacement.

Playtah said...

I'm glad you were honest with him Poppy! I would definitely be completely honest about that with him, since it could affect him down the road. And "down the road". :P

I won't try to candy-coat it...having an STD would potentially be a deal-breaker for me if I were in a situation like that. But I suppose if it is really meant to be, that a couple can get through just about anything. No matter what the outcome is, you can be proud of yourself for having the courage to share the truth with him. And since your name is "Poppy", maybe you are his heroine! :P

l.b. said...

Poppy did the right thing by telling her guy now. Clearly things are serious and just as clearly, he needs time to wrap his head around everything.
It is sort of unfortunate that he wants to talk to other people about it, but hopefully as a thoughtful person, he will use discretion on who he brings into this discussion.
The past is the past and I think Poppy's guy will see that and appreciate the gift of love and trust that is being offered to him.

David in DC said...

Ruh-roh. I'm gonna be a minority of 1 here.

Poppy: run for your life. You have nothing to be ashamed of and there's nothing for him to "forgive". Normal adults are sexual. There's "safer sex" but no completely safe form of sex and you got unlucky.

Not immoral, not a slut, just unlucky.

You were right to level with Dean. From what I've read so far, his response has been atrocious.

The proper response would have been "I'm so glad you feel comfortable enough and that you are honest enough to tell me this now.

I don't know enough about this to make any kind of decision about it, but please know that I love you and respect you.

I do have some misgivings. I'm going to do some discreet research, on the internet or in a library or by talking to my own physician, so I can guage how much of an effect this will have on me if/when we get sexually intimate.

I won't discuss it with anyone else. It's your life and your decision who knows what, and I can see how awkward it would be if I consulted people who know you or will soon know you.

Let's treat this as a bump in the road while I do my research, not as an existential crisis. I'll try not to take too long, because I know this will be hard for you. But it's my life too, and I need to be sure about a few things.

What time should I pick you up Friday?"

A 27-year-old man who has never had sex except with his own right hand (I'm going with percentages here, I know he might be a lefty or ambidextrous) and, until now, has only dated virgins? And now, he's willing to, what, "lower his standards" because his dream virgin doesn't exist?

And now he's backing off, talking it up with his confidants and leaving you dangling? With a significant family event coming up this Friday night? That you don't know if you've been dis-invited from?

To quote from one of my favorite movies (Toy Story 2) "Run like the wind, Bullseye!!!"

You deserve better.

(One other statistic about his sex life, in case he claims not to masturbate, too. 95% of all men say they masturbate. The other 5% lie about it.)

Oy. I got all worked up. Let me calm down a little.

Dean is acting like an ass.

Rachel's a pretty good judge of character, so I edited that sentence. It started out as "Dean is an ass."

Maybe Dean is redeemable, and maybe it's worth the time, trouble and angst that would go along with redeeming him.

But if you were my sister, I'd urge you to cut bait and go fishing elsewhere.

"Poppy" said...

david in dc - I'm sorry, where have you been hiding all my life? That was a great response!
Honestly, this is not the first guy I've discussed this with, and the others had already had been with me. They handled it like you said - "This is a bump. I knew you were/had been active before and this is something we'll have to deal with."
You are right that he may not be handling it as well as he could be. Your response has renewed my spirit, but I'm still unhappy. Mostly becuase I was a little annoyed and put off at his response. I was hoping he would be more understanding and respond as you said he should have.
I have since talked to a classmate of mine, who was a virgin when she married her husband (also a virgin at the time) and she had a response similar to Dean's.
I think it all boils down to your perspective. Over the past few days I've found that those who have not had prior sexual experience are less likely to be ok with it and those who have been sexually active are more likely to overlook it and see me for me. Let's hope he shows us that he is able to forgive me for my past and like me for who I am, not what I've done.

David in DC said...

Oops. It's your brother's rehearsal dinner. So you're not disinvited. Got so worked up I got one fact wrong. The thrust of my answer remains the same.

Also I was so worked up it took a second reading for me to get Playtah's Poppy/heroine joke. Big LOL when I finally did get it.

Be careful kids, don't try that at home. Playtah's a professional.

Indiana said...

Seriously David in DC, how many men would honestly at the point of being told by someone you were falling for that she had an STD say "I'm so glad you feel comfortable enough and that you are honest enough to tell me this now.”, my guess is no-one...Dean’s response is the normal and very human one and is not atrocious.

The test of his worth is not in his reaction or his shock, but rather it will come in the days that follow as he researches and searches his growing feelings for Poppy.

And Poppy, anything you have done in your past, is just that your past, and you should not be judged by it and it should not be held against you (David is totally right about that, we all have pasts so who are we to judge)…having said that we all carry “baggage” from yesterday into today, some people you meet will offer to help you carry it, others will leave you to struggle on your own. Chances are someone who has never had sex will respond just as Dean did, add into this his initial response was his need to “pray’ about it, and pretty soon, in my experience he will be judging you as well.

So while I don’t think Dean should be vilified for his response, you were right to tell him, you had to, I also don’t think you deserve to feel tortured for either being honest or your past.

And Rachel, you asked what advice I would give if Poppy were my friend…none. I would be there for her but I would not offer any advice, I would simply remain a supportive friend.

laughingattheslut said...

First, the current vaccine is for 4 virus out of who knows how many, at least 12 of which cause cancer. The vaccine isn't making the problem go away anytime soon.

As for these two people possibly needing to go their separate ways, I'm going to agree that might be for the best, though I do not agree with David's reasoning.

Virus or not, the girl has been with 30 partners, and the guy hasn't been with anyone. They are obviously coming from very different places. Unless Poppy has had a recent religious conversion of some sort and has sworn off sex or something like that, this probably isn't going to work out. They want different things from life. It's better that they get it over with sooner than later.

On the other hand, if Poppy has recently had a religious conversion of some sort and the two of them are now on the same path, Dean will probably get over this. Dean will probably reason it out that Poppy got a clean slate with God, and for the most part she should get the same from everyone else. But he is still in shock, and it might take him a little while to reason that out.

Forgiveness and the past is past and all of that aside, there is still the virus to worry about. I don't understand why we are not all routinely checked for this, why we actually have to have a confirmed problem before anyone can be bothered to do the lab work, and why can't they test men for this if someone wanted to know.

Some of these viruses that don't seem to do anything might turn out to cause testicular cancer or something that hurts men. I don't understand why can't they just do the tests? Does it require a big needle or something that men just would not stand still for? What is the deal?

dmarks said...

I wonder if this current vaccine is the same one that many states are talking about mandating for young girls? That one is being hyped up in the news with the implication that it does a lot more than just take care of a few of many viruses.

To elaborate on what I mentioned earlier about the couple where the woman had many partners, and the man was likely a virgin (and they have now been living happily ever after). She did in fact do a "180" before they got married, and she get a clean slate with God. With the man's help.

Rachel said...

Playtah ~ I think that it would be a difficult issue for anyone to deal with and a deal breaker for lots of people. I have friends who are on both sides of the issues. Some say NO WAY and others figure that it is just another thing to deal with but that it isn't earth shattering.

l.b. ~ I know how difficult it was for Poppy to tell Dean. She agonized over it for over a week. She knows that it was the right thing to do but it doesn't make the waiting any less stressful.

David In DC ~ I love what you said but I don't think that most men would react the way that you outlined. Men love the Madonna/whore complex. Someone who appears pure but is a vixen in the bedroom. Poppy has dragged that vixen out into daylight and now he has to review what he previously saw as the Madonna part of her.

Poppy ~ Perspective can change everything can't it? People always ask me how I handle being a single mom and working full time etc.etc.etc. I do it because it is the only choice that I have. Before I had D I couldn't figure out how women did it either.

David In DC ~ It is nice to know that you got so passionate about this issue. And yes, Playtah is a professional. That is why I am the sidekick.

Indiana ~ As always, you have a great insight into the situation. I will take your advice. I don't think that I have been empathetic and a listener to her and have tried to keep her positive. And I think that you all commenting on this has lifted her flagging spirits enormously.

laughingattheslut ~ I know that Poppy has been working very hard to improve her spiritual self. I don't know if she has recently had a spiritual conversion. I will let her answer that question.
I don't have any clue why they don't test men for STD's unless they have symptoms other than to say that many of them require a cotton swab being iserted inside the head of their penis. Men don't even like to turn their head and cough let alone have something inserted. Most men are big babies when it comes to anything involving their package.
It would be sweet revenge someday if they invented a speculum for men.

Rachel said...

dmarks ~ The vaccine that they are talking about for teenage girls is for HPV. Unfortunately it isn't effective if you receive the vaccine after your early 20's.
If you have HPV there is no cure and it is a leading cause of cervical cancer.
For men HPV is relatively harmless. They are a carrier. Only if they contract a strain that causes warts would they ever have an issue with it.

M said...

poppy was so right to be honest with him! The great kind of guy that she wants in her life is the kind of guy who will let the past be in the past and get over it!

Sizzle said...

i think it's good she told him now rather than later. it's a difficult situation because he maybe isn't up to speed on the whole sex/sexually transmitted diseases it could seem like a bigger deal to him that it actually is. if it really comes down to him not accepting that part of her, she's better off in the long run to not have married him. acceptance is a big part of loving someone.

laughingattheslut said...

If you watch the commercial next time, you'll might be able to see that there are four names under it.

HPV probably includes a couple hundred virus like cold and flu. You'd need a separate vaccine for each one. One shot contains four vaccines, but not a couple hundred. Like you can still get the flu after you have the flu shot, cause the flu shot is only for three strains.

It isn't so much that the vaccine wouldn't work on an older woman, I just can't get anyone to believe an older woman hasn't already been exposed to everything under the sun. They were saying that the side effects would probably outway the benefits to an older woman. But if they won't test the men, and I don't know who is carrying it, what else is a person supposed to do?

ChickyBabe said...

I'm a bit late for this discussion...

Tough one... but a relationship that is not based on honesty does not have much of a chance of survival. Everyone has a past, his might not be sexual. Isn't love about accepting someone for the person they are deep down?

Rachel said...

M ~ You are right. If he is the right one he will be able to get over this. Most importantly he won't ever hold it against her.

Sizzle ~ I know that when I was younger and less experienced I was terrified of gettig an STD. I am still scared but I know people who have gotten them and for most, it isn't a huge deal, just something that they deal with.

laughingattheslut ~ Whenever they would talk about it on the news I never really paid attention after they said that it was only for women in their early 20's and younger. I am 33 so I figured that it wouldn't apply to me.

ChickyBabe ~ You are never too late to add to a discussion. Acceptance of someones authentic self is the most important thing by far.

Babybull40 said...

Honesty is so important in a relationship. You have been honest and if he decides that he can't get past it then he's the one losing out on someone who will love him unconditionally. Good for you for standing up and being accountable.. I hope it all works out for you.

laughingattheslut said...

I can't imagine that there's that much difference between the immune system of a healthy woman in her 20s and a healthy woman in her 30s.

The virus isn't going to ask for your ID. Why would a vaccine refuse to work just cause you're a bit older?

They will probably change the ad later to try to get more money from us "older" women, after everyone in the target age gets their shots. With all the stuff about the girls here being legally required to have it before they go back to school, maybe they just don't have enough spare for the rest of us.

dmarks said...

I'm just not familiar with this television ad. I've seen something on the backs of magazines recently, though.

"Poppy" said...

Well, everyone, thank you for your input over the past 24 hours. The past few days have been rough for me, but I've gotten through.
Although I still have my doubts and worries, he did say (in a text message - we'll leave that one alone :) last night that we can work things out. He was acting a little strange afterwards, but I always over analyze everything, so I'll get over it. He probably just needed some additional time to think over his decision.
Also, apparently I'm hyper-sensitive because the doctor said she had nothing she could do this morning - there was nothing there.
Obviously this man Dean is pretty amazing and has been able to work through his worries and concerns to realize he cares about me enough to work it out with me.
If you need to share this story with anyone, please do. Stuff like this does not happen every day.

Crystal said...

wow - that's a tough one.

maybe she should look into safe sex alternatives (if she hasn't already) that will allow her and dean to have healthy sex.

since he is waiting until marriage, he probably has morals, and if you have morals, you probably have a heart.

best of luck!