The Hook Up: Herpes Help + Fighting the FWB Urge

Photo: (Everyone Is Gay)

The Hook Up is a weekly relationship advice column from MTV Act and the It’s Your (Sex) Life campaign, written by the very talented Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid.

From the awkward to the complicated to the down-right-adorable, these girls have you covered. To submit your question about love, lust or anything in between, email us at We’d love to hear from you, and your question could be chosen for a future column! Plus, the first 30 people get free MTV Act shirts. FYI, in case you’re a little shy, all questions can be anonymous.

A friend just found out she has herpes. What can I do to help her?

-Question submitted by Reg

Dannielle Says:

I think listening to her concerns and fears is a great place to start. Chances are there isn’t anything specific you can do, but you CAN be a good friend (and sometimes that’s enough).

I imagine your friend is feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now, ALL OF WHICH she probably just wants you to hear. When she tells you she is scared, she feels embarrassed and stupid, let her know she has every right to be feeling those things.. Let her know that it’s totally normal to feel surprised, upset or scared when you learn you have an STD. Remind her that she is not stupid, having an STD does NOT make her any less of a person,and you will do whatever it takes to make her feel at least a little better.

Be sure to tell that she isn’t alone.  STDs are REALLY common. Although not a lot of people talk about them, they are the nation’s  most common type of infection. Crazy right? MILLIONS of people have to deal with them in year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 50 million people have herpes – that is one in six people.!

If I were in your shoes, I’d want to lighten the mood a little. So… you could always make a list of her favorite celebrities and be like ‘point to one’ and when she does just scream ‘HERPES.’

This is a big deal, it is something she’ll have to be conscious of forever and it is a thing she’ll have to talk about in future relationships which can be really hard. HOWEVER, it is also very common, while there is no cure there is medication you can get to help with the symptoms, reduce the outbreaks and reduce the risk of spreading it, and it DOES NOT have to dictate or define who she is or the rest of her life.

Kristin Says:

The thing with herpes is that it has this HUGE stigma attached to it… but in reality, like Dannielle said, it is a very VERY common thing and it is completely manageable. The reasons that your friend might be bummed out is because a) it’s confusing and she might not completely understand what it even means to have herpes, b) she is aware of that stigma and keeps imaging herself having to tell people that she has herpes, and/or c) she feels like she made a dumb decision and she feels like a fool.

So, I think your path of being a friend can just help lift her up in those areas AND I agree with Dannielle AGAIN, I think you can make it a conversation that also includes some lightness. You can honestly be like, “Okay listen, I know this is upsetting you and I am your friend, and that is why I put a call into the mayor to name today FRHERPDAY2013.” She’ll be all, “Fruh-what Day?” and then you can be like, “IT STANDS FOR FRIENDS’ HERPES DAY 2013. IT IS WHEN YOU AND I TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT IS BUGGING YOU AND WE FIGURE IT OUT AND THEN YOU FEEL BETTER AND THEN WE GET FRHERP ICE CREAM. GOD WHY DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING.”

Then, on frherp day, you talk to her about how much she knows. You google things with her and do some research on what it is, what she can do about it, how she can tell her next sex partner, and help alleviate those fears. You talk about the fact that you understand why she feels anxious about having to tell other people, and underline the fact that having herpes is REALLY common , she is not alone – millions of people have it -and that anyone worth their salt will not judge her – especially if she is informed and able to explain it clearly. You tell her over and over again that she isn’t an idiot or a fool or stupid or anything – she’s just a person and this is a thing that happens, is manageable and handle-able and that the mayor told you that, moving forward, any day could be frherp day and you are ALWAYS there to talk to her.

I’m that girl who has the on and off again relationship and right now it’s off … he wants to have sex and I do too but I’m scared he will just leave afterwards …. is it worth being fwb?
Question asked by Hanna 

Dannielle Says: 

No amount of ‘doing it’ with someone is worth emotional hurts SLASH heart ripping… I hope that makes sense. I know you like him PROBABLY A WHOLE LOT and you enjoy having fun with him A WHOLE LOT, but there comes a point when you have to do what’s best for you.

Right now, you are literally saying to us ‘this already hurts my heart, should i keep doing it?’ AND TO THAT I SAY: no. Do not. It will probably be hard to cut all ties at first, but it will be worth it, you’re putting yourself through a lot right now, and this relationship isn’t fair to you.

It’s one thing to be emotionally ready for a friends with benefit-ship and it’s a totally different thing to NOT be ready but to push yourself into it anyway. It’ll mess with your head, trust me. There is someone else out there for you – that wants what you want!


Kristin Says:

I SECOND THAT VOTE. No. You should not.

You literally just said “he wants to have sex.” So you KNOW what he wants, and you KNOW what you want, and you KNOOWOWWWWOWOWWWWW that those two wants do not align. Sorry for the scream-wail on the third “know,” I was just feeling dramatic.

I am sure the sex is awesome and I am sure you just want to be able to put your heart aside and have fun and hope that maybe this time something will click in his brain and he will want to be with you and all the problems will vanish in a sea of kisses and naked bodies… but that only happens in movies, you guys.

He is who he is. You are who you are. One night of sex for another several weeks of heartache, generally speaking, ain’t worth it. Bite your lip, invite some friends over, and watch a crappy horror movie with a bowl of popcorn instead of giving into that desire. It’ll only hurt your heartbones in the end. The right relationship will come!

Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid are the co-creators of Everyone is Gay, a website and organization promoting kindness between all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. The views expressed in these blog posts are the viewsof the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of MTV, KFF or the It’s Your Sex Life campaign.

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