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Casual Sex and the STI Talk
Talking to new partners about STIs has always come with some anxiety for me. Yes, even today, as the full-fledged sex writer I am, I still get a frog in my throat before addressing anything that may be considered slightly serious topics in relation to my partnerships – especially if a partnership is casual. Sexual health and STIs are incredibly important to discuss prior to sexual contact, so even though I do feel anxious at times, I push through it to prioritize my health and experience.
I know a lot of other educators, queer people and kink community members prefer to sit down conversations where you put everything on the table, but that isn’t realistic for me and my lifestyle. While serious talks in non-sexual mindsets are amazingly beneficial for lots of people, in my experience it’s not something that’s accessible to the majority of casual sex culture. For those of us with anxiety, it can feel presumptuous or awkward to assume that you will be sleeping together if you’re on a date, but it can also feel hard to bring up in conversation. So how do I get the info on my partner’s sexual health and STI status? I do it in the moment.
Recently I started sleeping with a new partner, and I wanted to re-evaluate my STI talk method so I could get as much info as I need, in a put together way. In the distant past I’ve stuck to something along the lines of “we’re good here?” and that’s been fine in combination with condom use, but I wanted to add a couple more questions to the process. With this gent, we were heavily making out and ready to go before I decided to bring it up. Here’s how I bring it up..
“Can we pause for a second?”
It’s not everyone’s style, but I bring up STI statuses during makeouts. Sure, it’s not the sexiest thing, but I believe it should be normalized in heated scenarios too. Just like how you might bring up consent boundaries or likes/dislikes in the moment with a new partner. I pull away from their lips and say “Hey. Can we pause for a second?”, then continue forth with my information. I know this isn’t comfortable for everyone but I figure if they’re going to lie about their status, they would do so regardless of the medium. In my experience, people are honest when asked, although use your own judgement, and use protection!
My Information First
Offering my own information first takes a lot of anxiety out of an STI discussion for me. It makes the conversation come off as less blame-based, and more of a “we’re in this together”. I find it helps in establishing the trust – especially if your partner is someone you recently met. Plus, it can give them an idea of the information you’re looking for.
“I last got tested on [this date] and my results came back [negative/positive].” If you came back positive you should elaborate on your current status, and discuss what that looks like moving forward. I once had a hookup who had HSV-2 genital herpes and told me before we were going to bang. He let me know, gave me some info on his reduction methods, and gave me the option to continue or not. I also note that I’ve had a full panel (including blood work) and that I don’t use condoms for blowjobs (it could be important for your partner to be informed on your current sexual activities/risk factor).
“When did you last get tested? What Were Your Results?”
You don’t just want to spit out your information and leave them hanging; conversations around STI testing still isn’t normalized, so it can be hard for people to know how to respond. I’ve seriously had people go silent or say “Nice.” without thinking I was expecting a reply. Ask your partner when their last tests were, so they know the reason you brought it up was so you both could share your status.
STI convos can really be as easy as that. I always recommend regular testing on a schedule based for your lifestyle (I go once a quarter, and do full panels before adult industry events), as well as using protection, especially in situations that may be of higher transmission risk. So go forth friends, get tested and know you and your partner(s)’s status!
What are your strategies for asking about your partner(s)’s sexual health?
This post was sponsored. All opinions and writing are by yours truly (as always)!