A Delicate STD Matter


We’ve all been there: we get lulled into a false sense of comfort for one reason or another, and as a result we end up trusting the wrong person. It can be a harsh lesson, especially in the case of one of my students, who emailed me with her ethical dilemma. All names in the following story have been changed.

Dear Maryanne,

I feel so stupid that I’m even in this situation, but I need some advice for an ethical question that has come up. A friend of mine set me up with a man named Alan, whom I already knew to be a great philanthropist in our community. She recommended him as a potentially great match for me, and so we started going out. Things progressed quickly, which I felt comfortable with because my friend liked him so much, and he did in fact seem to be good and upstanding. Within a short time, we decided to spend a night together.

When the subject of condoms came into the conversation, Alan insisted that he had been tested for STD’s and was clean. Who in their right mind would accept that as an excuse not to be safe? Me, apparently, even after warning my goddaughter about safe sex and sending her to college with your book and a supply of condoms. I wasn’t even smart enough to follow my own advice.

Unfortunately, within a few days of sleeping with Alan, I became infected with herpes. Alan refuses to talk about it with me, becoming evasive when I asked him to send his test results to my doctor. So now I don’t know whether I should warn my friend not to set Alan up with anyone else, or just put this whole episode behind me and forget about it. I don’t want to cross any ethical lines, but at the same time I don’t want other women to go through what I’m going through now. Help!

Thank you in advance,


Dear Laura,

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Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is always difficult to deal with when we discover that the guy we thought was decent and honest is actually the opposite of all those things. It can shatter your trust and cause untold amounts of emotional distress. It’s especially difficult to have such a harsh lesson dealt to you when you have obviously been doing your best to use your CORR® relationship techniques. You have learned the hard way that it’s not enough for someone else to endorse someone – you have to do all the detective work yourself.

But that doesn’t mean snooping or digging around – it’s as simple as communication and observation. Ask the 14 questions outlined in Hindsight, add any of your own, and then wait and see. If you become sexually involved too early, the “wait and see” part can become distorted, as your affection and attachment to this person can cloud your judgement and make you blind to any warning signs that come along. Of course, you probably realize all this now.

There is a silver lining to your cloud, though. You have the opportunity to love yourself and turn this seemingly negative experience into a way to grow and learn. So how will you figure out what to do now, as a child of the Divine? Here are some tips to get the ball rolling:

  • Spend a few days re-centering your ego. Get away from asking for outside validation by covering all your mirrors with construction paper. Look inward instead for answers, remind yourself about all the ways in which you are unique and strong and gifted, and watch how quickly you move back to a center of internal reference.
  • Cleanse yourself with a clearing ceremony. Make a ritual of writing down everything you need to heal, and all the things you want to let go. You can let a few friends in on it, make a beautiful and sacred place to hold your ceremony, and surround yourself with beauty and wisdom.
  • Take a break from sex. Six or nine months of dating without sex may seem like forever, but you’re worth the wait, and a period of abstinence can help you keep your thinking clear. Use the opportunity to look at why you trusted Alan so soon, and next time when you date, let the trust build naturally over time. You will see how you behave on dates, as well as what sort of men you are attracting.

I think you’ll find, that if you’re patient and gentle with yourself, that as you go through this process your answers will surface. You will soon see what is the most appropriate way forward for you. Please do contact me if you have any more questions.

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