Navigating HSV-2 (or other STIs) in Non-Monogamous Relationships

If one partner is more comfortable with risk than another, what do you do?

Liz Sinclair
5 min readApr 30


Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

I thought my husband and I had reached the cruising along stage of non monogamy, but it turns out that we have another bump in the road.

My husband met someone that he really likes. She’s cool, she’s smart, she’s sexy and he is smitten. When he gets home after his dates I can tell he is buzzing with new relationship energy. I feel happy for him (well, mostly, and a little bit jealous, but that’s for another blog post!).

Things have been humming along for them but he recently came home with a bit of a whopper of news. She disclosed to him that she has genital herpes. He had been wondering why she had been so adamant about “over the undies” type play up until then. She told him that she’d been positive for years and had learned that it was best not to hit someone with this disclosure right off the bat, but definitely necessary to disclose before any risky sexual activities. I give her full kudos for being responsible and honest.

She shared that she’d been positive for years but had very infrequent outbreaks. Her previous partners had known about her HSV status, used condoms, and not contracted HSV from her.

She asked him if he was okay with the risk of having sex with her?

He didn’t answer right away. He knew it was a bit more complicated as a non monogamous man. Was it his decision alone to make?

After he told me, my husband immediately went into full research mode on the risks associated with genital herpes. He read articles, dug into research studies, scrolled through the NIH website. As he read, he discovered that the risks of woman to man transmission are fairly low, and could be even lower with condoms and anti-viral medications.

Turns out too that many health professionals are no longer recommending HSV2 testing because it is so prevalent and most people don’t even know they have it. I don’t debate this fact. However, the reality is that it is still a STI that has no cure. It is a lifelong illness that can be transmitted to other sexual partners, and that can have other complications, especially in women.



Liz Sinclair

Ordinary, middle-aged, university educated, working mother of three in a long-term loving marriage. Oh, and also non monogamous.