Should my Partner and I get Tested Before we Have Sex?
Should my partner and I get tested before we have sex? How can I bring it up to her? I don't want her to think I'm judging her.
Dear Get Tested,
I am a firm advocate of getting tested regularly, but especially in a new relationship. In fact, I schedule time to have that conversation and request that we both get tested. That way nobody is being judgey, shamey, or feeling blamed by the other - both or all parties are on the same page. Personally, my partner and I discuss when we will get tested and whether or not we will engage in sexual activity while we wait for the results. And if we choose to engage in sexual activity while we wait, we discuss the use of contraceptives. You can learn A LOT about a person and their boundaries by having this kind of conversation.
That is how I prefer to approach the subject, but what I’m going to tell you is universal for everyone:
1. Educate yourself on STIs and remove any and all stigmas or beliefs you have been told over the years.
2. Learn what your deal-breakers are (boundaries) and learn to self-advocate for your sexual health.
So, to recap: Tell your partner(s) that you want to talk about getting tested for STIs and schedule a time for it. If they try to discuss it right then, politely ask them to wait to for the agreed upon day/time when you are together to discuss everything - this will give everyone time to think about any questions/concerns they may have. If you need to, write down reminders in a notebook or on your phone so you don’t forget anything. Go into the conversation with empathy and a willingness to listen. Check your ego at the door. If your partner responds with anger or any other negative emotion, you have 2 choices:
1. Ask them why they are angry
2. Get up and walk away
Never compromise your health for sex, nobody is going to look after your sexual health for you. It is your responsibility and yours alone. If your partner absolutely refuses to have this conversation; walk away. Go find a new partner and keep having the conversation. It will get easier and you will learn who is deserving of having you in their life.
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BETHANY KILLEN - RESIDENT ADVICE COLUMNIST & SEX THERAPIST
Bethany Killen (she/her), whose time spent finding ways to navigate through her own personal struggles led her to pursue a career in social work.