This piece was originally published by Driven Local on CIRCLE CARE Center's website on June 25. 2017. Triangle Community Center has a long-standing partnership with CIRCLE CARE Center, and one of the best ways to support your local LGBTQ community center is to access services available at CIRCLE CARE Center.
It’s the conversation no couple really wants to have. Yup, the “where have you been” conversation. While it may be a little awkward at first, talking to your partner about their sexual history should be just as much a part of sex as the physical contact.
WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT SEXUAL HEALTH?
There are a lot of myths out there about STIs, how you catch them, and how you can prevent them. These are just a few of the reasons young people have reported not talking to their partner about their sexual past.
- The fear of insulting your partner. No one wants to admit it, but STIs are much more common than you may think. But, some people feel like they’ll insult their partner if they ask about STIs.
- Fear of rejection. Some people fear that their partner will want to break up with them over this conversation.
- The belief that sex is always spontaneous. Despite what romantic comedies may have taught us, sex is not always a spontaneous, sudden outburst of passion. In reality, many people talk about their sexual history and preferences before engaging in sex.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR PARTNER
Don’t sugar-coat it. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but the best way to get a straightforward answer is to ask a straightforward question. Good questions to ask your partner are:
- “Have you ever had an STI?”
- “When was the last time you got tested?”
- “What were the results of that test?”
Remember that this is a two-way street. Even if you’re the one initiating the conversation, you still have to be open about your sexual history as well and answer any questions your partner may have.
Talk about protection. Nowadays, there are so many more ways to protect yourself from STIs and pregnancy than just condoms (though it’s important to remember that condoms still remain the most effective form of protection from STIs on the market). Talk to your partner about which form of protection is best for the both of you, and be willing to explore other options.
Get tested. The only way to know your STI status is with a recent test. If you or your partner have been with anyone else, since their last test, it’s important that you get tested again. Many couples even choose to go together to a testing site.
Don’t blame or judge someone. If during your discussion you discover that your partner has or had an STI, don’t blame or shame them. Instead, have an open discussion about it with them — after all, that’s the whole point of this conversation!
If you are sexually active or suspect that you may have an STI, CIRCLE CARE Center is a Center of Excellence for the prevention and treatment of STIs.