5 ways to talk about safe sex with a new (and existing) partner
Right here, right now, or in the near future, you're going to be getting intimate with someone. I’m sure you’re only seeking good memories — and not the memories of visiting your neighborhood doctor’s clinic. How to be safe? First and foremost — use a condom. Also, give each other assurances of safety. Here's how to talk about safe sex, even if you think you're confident in your partner.
Set an example
Get regular checkups, even if you're protecting yourself in every conceivable way. Infections can show up in your life even by going to the pool or using someone else's toothbrush and towel. Don't roll your eyes — people still do that.
Regular intimate health monitoring will allow you to always be on top of things, ideally with a negative result in your pocket. You'll have an easier time asking your partner for reassurance if you come prepared.
How to check the credibility
It is usually better to see papers with lab/clinic seals rather than electronic versions. If you can’t access the paper version, ask your partner to open the email with the file.
Even though it sounds like a spy novel, it's okay to be extra suspicious when it comes to your health. Unfortunately, we’ve heard of cases where people have used a simple photo editor to change "positive" to "negative."
Start from afar
A good approach for the indecisive, yet a responsible person. Start with something like: "So recently I was rewatching Baywatch. Pamela is such a role model! Especially when she openly stated that she had hepatitis C. Actually, when was the last time you were tested for something like that?". Your partner’s reaction will tell you how willing he or she is to talk and to share responsibility with you.
Ask to buy condoms
Even if you have a stockpile of protection at home, this request can be an excuse to discuss contraception and what it protects against. Don’t think of this request as a promise of sex to someone. You have the right to refuse it at any time — including when you're naked and very horny. Remember about active consent — we've written some very useful materials about it.
Suggest going to the lab together
Suitable for those in relationships of varying degrees of intimacy. For many people that is an important step in a relationship. Something important though: No one has the right to ask what results — positive or negative — you’ve received. In order to avoid the awkwardness, you can take the tests together, but receive results separately (if you opted-in to pick up the papers personally).
Start a conversation and stand your ground
You have the right to know about your partner’s sexual health, especially if you know that he or she slept with others before you. Or if something was happening behind your back — with or without your consent. After all, if your partner did engage in sexual activity with someone else — it’s almost like you have a new relationship. That may sound like an ultimatum, but you're looking out for your safety. Only by learning what you need to know then can you relax, enjoy, and give pleasure to your partner.
Phrases that should concern you
- I'm definitely clean! I feel fine. And look — it doesn’t look like anything is wrong!
- Don't you trust me? I thought you weren't like those others.
- I've just had two partners. There's no point in me getting tested.
- I don't do casual sex. There’s no way I could have gotten an STI.
- Come on, it'll be fine! I'm not gonna come inside you.
- Of course, I'm getting tested. I was all fine just two years ago.
- So you think I sleep with everybody?!