It’s not enough that they suck our blood and put us on edge every time we stay in a hotel room. Now, bedbugs are mucking up our love lives.
“I consider bedbugs to be in the same category as murderers or drug addicts,” says Karen Tom, a thirtysomething writer from Manhattan. “That’s an undesirable category, something that would endanger my welfare, my personal well-being. I don’t want anyone at my house with bedbugs.”
Could you actually pick up bedbugs from someone you’re dating?
Yes and no, says Dr. Richard Zack, associate professor of the department of entomology at Washington State University.
“These are not like head lice or pubic lice – those live on people,” he says. “Bedbugs are very different from that. If you had a date and went out to a bar and had a drink with someone and then they dropped you off at your place with a good night kiss, you would not catch bedbugs from them.”
If things went particularly well, however, you might be both smitten – and bitten.
“If you were dating someone and you were sleeping with them in their bed and they had bedbugs, then you would catch them,” he says. “But you’d have to be someplace where the bedbugs were and then you’d have to bring them back, like if you had an overnight bag with you. That’s how they get around.”
“It’s like the new thing that gets you blacklisted from your friends,” says Tom, who admits that if a long-term boyfriend came down with an infestation, she wouldn’t kick him to the curb.
“A friend of mind lived in a building with bedbugs and she was being demonized for it. She said it was like in the early ‘80s when people didn’t know what AIDS was and were freaked out about it and didn’t want to have anything to do with people who had it. I think it’s a little different but there is some ostracizing going on.”
Zack says that if someone with a bedbug infestation spends the night with you, ask them to stow their overnight bag in your garage or other out-of-the-way spot. And have them thoroughly shake out anything they bring into your house such as pajamas or a change of clothes.
As for crossing them off your friend (or love) list, though, that’s totally unnecessary, he says.
“You don’t need to ostracize them,” he says. “They’re not carrying bedbugs around with them.”
Easy for him to say. But are bedbugs a dating dealbreaker for you?
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