It seems to me that your ex might have lied. From my experience meeting/talking with people, it is the women who sometimes do not know they are having an outbreak because it can happen internally. But even then, I can't imagine someone in touch with their body would not know they are having an outbreak, especially the first which is the worst, swollen glands/lymph, fever, flu symptoms, etc.
I went to a doctor once a long time ago when I thought I had herpes and it was only "folliculitis". He was a county doc at a free clinic who had seen hundreds of herpes cases. His words to me were: "Herpes is not a subtle disease.."
I can't imagine a guy, with all of his sexual organs on the outside of his body, would not know without question that something is going on and he may have an STD during his first outbreak. I'm super healthy and it was HORRIBLE! not just in feeling but in blistering, duration, pain. Now they are very mild and sometimes the blisters do not even surface all the way (mostly cuz I take a linus pauling influenced alkaline vitamin c mixture right when I feel the itching, 5000 mg's or more two or three times per day) but the first one? There is no way! It is the initial introduction to our immune system. I shudder just thinking about mine. :(
Wishing you well and always sad to hear of your situation,