My past two partners voice distaste for safer sex practices. They both said that they were taking the pill and they couldn’t get pregnant. One of them even said “Don’t you trust me?” Now, I know the correct answer is “Ditch them, it ain’t worth it.” That may be true but what advice could you give to others in a similar scenario?
For example, you’re in the heat of the moment, you reach over to grab a condom and she says “Oh, you don’t need that.” How can he politely and without loss of arousal educate the partner that he does not know who she has slept with and neither does she…Wouldn’t the social stigma with STD’s cause the partner to become offended? Or is “no cover, no down under” good pillow talk? – Sukima, in comments
“Oh, you don’t need that…” (shiver). What a scary thing to say. My first reaction is “Oh, I bet you say that to all the guys…” Because that’s the thing: if your partner (especially a new one) is wiling to forego a condom with you, do you really think they wouldn’t with others? I would never give advice…oh, wait, that’s cunningminx. Fuck that, I’ll give advice: if you hear a lover say something like that, ditch them, it’s not worth it.
OK, that’s harsh. And hypocritical; I was one of those people who put a huge stigma on herpes for a long time, and it took a patient partner to educate me on the realities of the issue. That’s only one STD, admittedly, and an incredibly benign one. But the initial reactions of people are way, way out of proportion.
In my opinion – and it’s only qualified in the sense that I have practiced safer sex for many years and hang out with people a lot smarter than me about it – is that the conversation needs to be had before the reaching for the condom. In my own case, usually the conversation has been about sex at some point in the evening anyway, and I will simply say things like this during conversation:
“Yes, I get tested every 6 months for STD’s, and also give blood regularly which is a great free HIV test…You know, I’ve had a several partners who had herpes, and even though I’ve been very careful, and never showed symptoms, I felt I had to tell people that they were at risk, because there really isn’t a reliable way for a guy to tell if he’s a carrier. Funny thing, no one ever said no to me for that reason…guess the stupid stigma of the disease is finally passing by. Oh, I prefer magnums, but the worst I ever tried were Avanti, with a lover who had a latex allergy. Oh, that really, really sucked…You know, I heard there are even Vegan condoms…”
By abstracting it like this, I give the person the information they need to know without the added pressure of “You need to know this now so that you can decide if we shall do the sex!” Usually the other half of the conversation is the person talking about how they’ve been tested, or what kind of condoms they prefer, or some funny story about the one time they tried the female condom and couldn’t stop giggling.
However, I suspect that not everyone peppers their dates with this much sexual content. For me, it’s almost a requisite that the person be comfortable talking about sex openly (one of my favorite first conversations with a lover was her relating how she learned to enjoy giving oral sex – this before she knew my last name. My kinda woman.).
If that’s the case – if you’ve spent the evening discussing Goya’s etchings and Barry Bonds’ bail – remember that the heat of the moment is the absolute worst time to make that decision. Forgive the pun, but it’s too hard to think clearly at that point…at least, I’ve found it difficult. But it’s necessary – even something as simple as
“Just a sec -” (style note: eye contact here is a really useful thing for maintaining intimacy) “…is there anything I should know about your sexual history? I have to tell you that I used to get cold sores in High School, so I’ve got the HSV1, but it’s not broken out in 15 years now. But if that means you’d rather I not go down on you, I’ll understand.”
That way you are taking the stigma on yourself (assuming that applies – it does to me, but your script may vary). It also sort of opens you up as a vulnerable person – Look, I’m opening up to you because I trust you won’t judge me and will talk to me – and therefore gives them the safe space they need to say “Well, after spring break a few years ago I came back with an unwelcome friend named gonorrhea, but everything else has tested negative.”
Tests. Tests are the hard part. It’s too easy to just say “Yeah, sure, I’ve been tested.” What does that mean? For HIV? For the full spectrum? Two days ago? Two decades? I think it should be a point of sexual etiquette that general questions should be met with specific answers: “Is there anything I should know about your sexual history?” is general. Something like “I get tested every six months, I’m due again next february, and I’ve had two partners since the last time. We used condoms, but not for oral, but neither of them have any diseases that we’re aware of.”
Too much information? Perhaps…but it lets the partner make an informed decision. It lets things be safer, and at the same time acknowledges (“…that we’re aware of.”) that there may be things that will still come as a surprise (Ding! goes the pun bell.)
Personally, I think that the idea of two people making adult decisions like that together is pretty hot, and can add to the feeling of fucking with wild abandon because you don’t have to have that doubt in the back of your mind of “What if I’m about to contract a disease that could kill me?”
Cuz that really sucks. At least, that’s all my opinion. Thoughts? Am I full of it? (Ding!)