Any time you hear the phrase “I need to talk to you about something,” it never ends well.
It’s the equivalent of the brace for impact warning on a plane. When you hear that, you better take a deep breath and strap yourself in for a bumpy ride — something is about to go down.
So when I heard those eight anxiety-inducing words at the end of a first date, I knew it couldn’t be good. We’d gone for a walk by the water, shared a few stories and had a few laughs.
He was nice and easy to talk to, but it didn’t take me long to realise there wasn’t a spark there. I assumed we’d say our goodbyes, then exchange a series of “it’s not you it’s me” texts a few days later. Needing ‘to talk’ was the last thing I was expecting.
He sat me down outside the train station he had arrived at, as I tried not to look how I always look in these situations – awkward. Serious chats aren’t my forte, least of all a serious chat with essentially a stranger.
In the split seconds before he launched into it, I racked my brain for what on earth this could be about. I’d had first dates drop the divorce bomb a few times. Kids? Surely not, he wasn’t even 30. My two go-tos were unlikely, but regardless, I’d never in a million years have guessed what he was about to tell me.
WATCH: Mel Schilling on the best way to approach sharing a major, personal part of your life with a new partner. (Post continues.)
“Okay, so,” he exhaled, “I feel like today has gone really well, so I’d prefer to be upfront right from the get go and not waste anyone’s time.”
What I would give to see my face at that exact moment, eyeing him nervously, desperately scanning his body language for clues.
“About three years ago I was seeing a girl for a few months and she gave me herpes.”
Annnnnd there it was. I did my best to stay neutral and not react; how successful it was, I’m not sure. He went on to explain he despised the fact the woman he caught it from hadn’t told him she was a carrier, and he vowed to never do the same.
For the past few years, he’d taken multiple approaches to managing the virus. Like taking daily medication to prevent outbreaks, making sure to practice safe sex and most importantly, always being upfront with his sexual partners. It was his number one priority to keep it from spreading.
I was quiet as he spoke, a whirlwind of emotions spiralling inside me, realising at some point I’d have to say something.
After the initial shock had subsided, I was overcome with a sense of admiration. The man sitting in front of me was brave, and I had so much respect for how he was handling a situation I couldn’t imagine myself in — the health side of things firstly, followed by the anguish of figuring out how and when to tell a prospective partner. I felt for the guy.
We spoke about the stigma of it all and how common it is, even though no one talks about it. He shared that while some women were completely fine with it when he’d told them, others pulled the pin on the spot, with one calling him ‘disgusting’.
He said he wasn’t expecting me to tell him then and there what I thought, instead asking me to take a few days to mull it over and get back to him, but there would be no hard feelings either way.
The guilt set in nearly immediately after he left. I couldn’t help but feel bad that the genuine ‘lack of spark’ line I would wheel out to him would be perceived to be an excuse, and how many times he would have felt that same sense of disappointment before.
But whether he chose to believe it or not, I owed it to him to be as upfront as he’d been with me. I sent him a genuine, kind message, explaining the spark just wasn’t there for me and assuring him it was completely un-STI-related.
And he took it well… by not replying and immediately deleting me off Tinder. No hard feelings, right? Can’t say I blame him.