If you’re having a hard time talking to your partner about STIs, you’re not alone. The STI talk is easily one of the most awkward conversations two people can have. You can’t just walk up to a person and say, “How sure are you that you won’t infect me when we have sex?” That’s just bound to get you a slap in the face or an outright rejection, if you’re lucky. That said, knowing your status can open the doors to a smorgasbord of spontaneous sex.
Subtle ways to ask your partner to get tested
If you’re concerned about coming on too strong, here are 10 subtle suggestions that will help you get the ball rolling.
#1 Start at the beginning. Don’t wait until after you’ve opened the condom wrapper to talk about getting tested. An ill-timed intro can kill the mood. Conversely, if you’re too worked up, the mood may just kill you. Let that marinate. The best thing you can do is express your testing expectations to your partner, as soon as you know that you want to have sex with them.
#2 Take your own advice. According to AIDS.gov, there are currently 1 million people *roughly the entire population of San Diego* living with HIV in the US. 1 in 5 of those infected are unaware of their status. Most STIs have no symptoms, yet many of us hesitate to ask our partners to get tested, because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
If you believe your partner will take offense to your request, switch up your style. Try telling them that you are going to get tested, then ask if they’d like to come along. By placing the focus on yourself and giving your lover a choice, you avoid dumping all of the sexual responsibility on your partner.
#3 Reference current events. News pertaining to STIs always finds its way to the front page. For instance, a simple Google search brought me to a recent article about an app that locates STI testing facilities for Spring Breakers. It doesn’t matter if you get your info from The Times or TMZ, as long as you use it to jumpstart your discussion. After you’ve broken the ice, urge your partner to get tested.
#4 Talk about your future together. If you know without a doubt that your current partner is your future baby’s daddy or mommy, lead your discussion with talk of family planning. As the conversation progresses, add an STI-related fact. For example, you could mention that an unchecked case of Chlamydia can lead to infertility. The conversation will take a natural turn, and you’ll be able to bring up testing with ease.
#5 Get sexy with it. There’s a lot to be said for the power of sensual wiles. Taking a more sultry approach can make your partner more receptive to your suggestion. Use an alluring tone to tell your lover that knowing their status will alleviate your stress and lower your inhibitions. Explain that lowered inhibitions lead to better sex. Your lover will put two and two together, then happily comply.
#6 Movie night. Remember that scene in “The Hangover” when Alan’s dad tells Phil, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except herpes?” The next time movie night rolls around, replay that scene for your partner a few times, then ask them to get tested, so nothing is lost in translation. STIs are no laughing matter, but a little humor can alleviate some of the tension that accompanies such a heavy topic.
If you prefer dramas, films like “54,” “Philadelphia,” and “Dallas Buyer’s Club” can offer sobering insight into the realities of contracting and living with STIs. Use those insights to inspire your partner to get tested. We’ve all had difficulty expressing ourselves at one time or another. Let a Hollywood heavyweight turn your burden into light work.
#7 Take your partner dancing. I sense a bit of side-eye, but just hear me out. There are nightclubs that actually offer on-site HIV testing! I’m still sensing a bit of apprehension, which is fair. Many people believe that STI testing should only be performed in a clinical setting, but these days, home testing is more prevalent than ever. The tests offered by these establishments are similar to at-home options.
If you and your partner choose to get tested at the club, don’t forget to follow up with your general practitioner or gynecologist to confirm your results. If STI testing by strobe light isn’t for you, refer to tip #3, then mention this fun fact in your next casual conversation. Who knows, it may be the catalyst for your lover’s trip to the clinic. [Read: The dos and don’ts of swinging]
#8 Send an e-Card. If you’re anything like me, you write better than you speak. In this instance, my kindred spirit, e-Cards are a practical way to communicate your point. The CDC offers personalized e-Cards that tell your lover, “I got tested… did you?” If you’re looking for a more subtle option, the stock card and customization options from someecards.com are definitely worth a look.
#9 Just spit it out. At the end of the day, if you can’t speak with your partner about STI testing, then you shouldn’t have sex with them. If you find yourself fumbling over your words, remember this: the only thing standing between you and the sex you deserve is this one conversation. Relax, suck it up and say what you need to say! Say it in Pig Latin if that’s what it takes— just get your partner tested.
#10 If you jumped the gun… We’ve all been impossibly attracted to another human being at some point in our lives. Some of us have acted on those impulses and bedded a lover, before confirming their STI status. If you’re reading this article through the haze of such an afterglow, don’t beat yourself up. It happens. With that said, it is still imperative that you talk to your partner about getting tested for STIs ASAP.
Shake off your discomfort and tell your partner that both of you need to get tested. Your lover may cite your lack of concern during past trysts as a reason to brush off your request. Stand firm and tell them that you no longer feel comfortable having sex with them, and will be keeping your cookie to yourself until you’ve both received your results. It’s that simple.
It is your responsibility to convince your partner that getting tested simply isn’t up for debate. The CDC recommends annual testing for all sexually active individuals between the ages of 13 and 65, and bi-annual testing for those of us who engage in risky behaviors, including IV drug use, or fall into high-risk categories. Sexual orientation and relationship status are non-factors.
Contracting an STI can very easily become a literal matter of life and death. Anyone can get an STI, so everyone should get tested. End of discussion.
[Read: The crucial guide to surviving the hook-up culture]
You don’t need an advanced degree in rocket science to talk to your partner about getting tested. Anyway, I’m pretty sure your honey is down for all of the spur-of-the moment sex that comes with getting tested. If your lover is the person you believe they are, they’ll respect your wishes without hesitation. Just relax and speak from the heart. The rest will come.
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