Sharing Your Status With Your Ex Is the Right Thing to Do

Hospital gownIt’s the worst case scenario to imagine: you notice something kind of funky going on down there. You’re scared—you remember the horror videos your health teacher showed your class back in high school. And, after testing, your doctor calls with your worst nightmare news: you have a sexually transmitted disease. You struggle to wrap your mind around the consequences, the implications, the treatments. How long have you had it? Have you given it to anyone else? But you’re certain you know who you got it from: your dreaded ex.


By now, he’s moved on and you’re faced with your own ethical question. Should you contact him to let him know so he can go get checked? What’s the obligation if you had an unceremonious breakup, like if he cheated or stole money or in some other way violated your trust and breeched any semblance of honesty and uprightness? And, even if you can’t conjure up enough concern to alert him about his possible condition, should you warn his current girlfriend or—if he’d since gotten married—his wife? Ack. What a position to be in.

From a moral standpoint, even if your used-to-be has shown himself to be a bona fide jerk/pig/dog, it’s the right thing to do to let him know, whether you call him or put the word out for him to call you. (Please, whatever you do, don’t send a top secret message like that via text or, even worse, on Facebook, inbox or not.) If nothing else, you’re sparing some other poor woman (or perhaps, man) from being infected and squelching the virus from running rampant. But you also may be saving him from unnecessary health complications because most untreated STDs have a whole lot of them.

It can be extremely difficult to have the conversation about getting tested with the man you’re currently with or perhaps admitting you have an incurable disease to someone that you’re interested in. So I can only imagine how awkward and scary it is to call up your former flame maybe once or twice removed and tell them that you’ve contracted something and oh, by the way, you more than likely either got it from or gave it to them. That’s a shocker either way you slice it.

Embarrassing? Yes. Hurtful. Absolutely. Emotional. Of course. And not an enviable situation for anyone to be in. But the fact of the matter is, it should be happening more often. With literally millions of folks running around with infections they either don’t know about or aren’t willing to ‘fess up to—to themselves, let alone to their potential or present partners—this embarrassing, hurtful, emotional conversation still needs to happen in order to let life continue as normally as possible for everyone involved.

It’s not only ethically wrong to know and not tell a past partner about your status if you have an inkling that he may have it, too. It’s possibly against the law, since there have been previous cases of criminal transmission of HIV, hepatitis, and herpes. Finding out and not letting him know may make you legally liable, sooner or later, for not sharing the information. If you ever find yourself in this predicament—and hopefully, you don’t—be strong, be prepared for the wrath of their shock and anger, but be confident that you’re doing the right thing. Because you are.

Would you tell your ex you had an STD or STI if you found out?

Image via iwona_kellie/Flickr

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