Sunday 23 April 2017

Ask Brian: My boyfriend has given me an STI, what should I do?

Ask Brian: My boyfriend has given me an STI, what should I do?
Ask Brian: My boyfriend has given me an STI, what should I do?
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Our no-nonsense agony uncle gets straight to the point of your most pressing issues.

Dear Brian,

Recently my boyfriend of three years and I got back together after a break of about five weeks.

Things had built up over a good few months and after one particularly fiery blowout we decided we needed some time apart. We don't live together so it was easy enough from that point of view.

We both missed each other over the couple of weeks and kept in touch, and eventually decided to give things another go.

I was upfront with him, that I had kissed another guy on a drunken night out with my friends while we were apart. He was upset with this, but in fairness said we were on a break so it was ok. He said he hadn't been with anyone else.

Things have been going well since we got back together - but last week I was diagnosed with an STI. I haven't slept with anyone except him, so he's the only one who could have given it to me.

I'm so torn about what to do. I feel I should finish things with him for building our new start on a lie. I'm upset that he slept with someone else while we were apart, but I'm more upset he lied about it.

I've been pretending to be busy with work to avoid the conversation I know we need to have. What should I do?

Thanks,

Anon

Brian replies

Dear Anon,

Does anyone actually know of a couple who had a successful break?

Unless there are very clear rules they are needlessly complicated and often are nothing more than can-kicking a full break up down the road.

It seems in this case rather than deal with your issues you took some time apart in the hope they'd magically disappear. Issues are never sorted in 'fiery blowouts' like you had. But they're not sorted by ignoring them either.

Relationship issues are like a bad smell. You can cover it with air freshener, but unless you sort out the root cause it will fester and linger.

But let's deal with the current situation you find yourself in.

It's commendable that you owned up about the kiss. Even though you did nothing wrong as you were on a break, it still isn't an easy thing to do. That's why it's totally understandable that you should have expected that honesty to be replicated by your boyfriend.

He chose not to, for whatever reason. You're completely right that he's now started this next phase of the relationship on a lie.

Getting an STI is probably the worst way to find out you've been lied to. That's about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face.

Look, I don't think your boyfriend obviously doesn't know he has an STI or would have told you. And you need to tell him he has one as there can be health consequences if it's left untreated. He probably isn't experiencing symptoms.

He also might have had his reasons for not telling you; maybe you know the person he slept with and he didn't want the complications. Maybe finding out that you had only kissed someone made him feel ashamed at having gone a lot further and he wanted to protect your feelings.

So yes, he lied. But the intent, albeit misguided, might have been a good one.

You've been together three years so there's obviously something there - so maybe give him the benefit of the doubt?

But you have a right to the truth and you can't continue to avoid the conversation.

And you can't let your annoyance that he slept with someone else leak into it - you were on a break. He didn't do anything wrong in doing so. The only wrong he's done is lying about it - you need to separate the two.

Hear him out and see does any of his reasoning hold water for you.

The situation is difficult, but it's not impossible to work beyond it - if you both want to try.

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