I was recently divorced, pushing 50 and ready to get out there again. Except this time around, I had herpes.
I had been married for 17 years and I was eager to rejoin the world of the dating. I signed up for Match.com. I was struck by how slick some of the profiles were, as if guys were using head shots as their profile pictures. I performed a search as a "male looking for female" to see the kind of competition I was up against. All the women seemed so fit and attractive, and they all proclaimed their love of hiking and yoga.
I grew up in L.A. It was hard; I was chubby and an ugly duckling. I lived in beach-adjacent Hawthorne, where it seemed all girls my age looked bikini-ready and all boys were ready to hit the surf at any moment. It took me a long time to become comfortable in my own skin. And now I wasn't willing to take a step backward in the self-confidence area. I wanted to project myself as attractive, intelligent, financially and emotionally stable. I wasn't going to let the fact that I had had two kids and was in the size 14 clothing range deter me. My game plan was to get myself out there, meet whomever I could meet and see if there was potential.
Match.com is like that proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. There are a lot of frogs and no guarantees of meeting any princes. I ended up meeting a guy I really liked, and he liked me too. He lived relatively close, in the San Fernando Valley. We had a few dates, and after date four or five, it was obvious we were going to end up in the bedroom. I decided it was time for "The Talk." It took me all the courage I had in me to tell him I had herpes. He was appropriately thankful for my honesty and then… he ghosted me.
Being the impatient and highly sensitive person that I am, I sent him a message that basically said, "It's OK if you don't want anything to do with me, but have the nerve to come out and say so." Even though I knew it was fruitless, I still went on to say that I thought we had a lot of chemistry and it would be a shame to throw it all away. I did manage to get a response out of him, which was that after being married for 20 years, this time he was going to "do it right." I guessed that also meant "not with a side of herpes."
I swore to myself I would never, ever put myself through that again.
I didn't care if I had to be alone for the rest of my life, I wasn't going to have "The Talk" with anyone else. Feeling both humiliated and determined, I Googled until I found a website called Positive Singles, a dating site for people with herpes or other STDs. Feeling wounded and gun-shy, I created an empty profile and just poked around on the site. I read some of the forums; I eyed a few profiles. Like before, I checked out the competition … again with the hikes and the yoga. I defiantly stated my lack of interest of yoga in my profile and instead focused on what I hoped would reflect a person with a lot to give … but not herpes, because, well, this was a dating site for people who already had it.
I found out that a dating website is a dating website is a dating website.
More frogs … the married guy just looking for sex (No profile picture? Won't give me your cellphone number? No, thank you.), the guy who had one too many margaritas before I got to the restaurant (Granada's in Burbank), the guy who admitted he wasn't honest about his past because it included swinging and BDSM.
I met one guy I really, really liked. He lived in North Hollywood, just a short hop down Victory Boulevard. He was a musician, he made me laugh like crazy, but in the end, his highly political and anti-Semitic Facebook posts made me realize he was also unstable.
Then I met "F." He's was a SoCal native, like me. He had been married almost 20 years, like me. He didn't do yoga, but he did like to hike; I liked him enough that I figured I could look past that. Best of all, I would never have to have "The Talk" with him. Turns out, even though he has herpes, he's completely asymptomatic. Lucky duck.
We spoke many times on the phone before meeting in person. Despite living north of Los Angeles, he drove all the way down to meet me so we could meet and have coffee.
After a few months of dating, we moved in together. We've been together now for almost two years. He's kind, he's intelligent, I love how his sense of humor complements mine.
I remain cautiously optimistic about our future.
And I am very thankful that at this point, I never have to have "The Talk" again.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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