STDs and Other Uglies
When to bring up that ‘touchy’ subject with a prospective sexual partner
In every type of relationship, whether casual or serious there comes the time to have “The Talk.” And no it’s not about marriage or “how do I love thee, let me count the ways …” It’s more like, “So, how clean are your nether regions?”
There never seems to be a good time to have this discussion. Some opt to have it out over dinner somewhere between the oyster and the cheese course. “Please pass the lemon wedge. Oh, by the way, I was wondering if you have any ‘conditions’ I should be aware of? You know, like hay fever, the haunta virus, or ummm … herpes?”
Others can’t seem to bring it up until in the heat of the moment. As the clothes come flying off and the search for the elusive condom begins, someone mumbles, “Ummm … just so you know I just passed the super invasive Navy Seals STD exam.”
After all, even condoms are only 90 percent effective.
And sadly, many sexual partners are not prompted to have this conversation until after a ‘slip’ occurs. The widespread use of birth control has somewhat reduced the urgency for our dear latex friends. We want to blindly trust our partners and thus STDs are too often an afterthought. A very scary afterthought. Many men and women wait until they are in a state of HIV panic before the conversation is forced upon them. Why is this? Why is taking off our clothes so easy and talking about the necessary safety so discouraging?
In a very non-scientific poll taken during a street festival in San Francisco I learned that many women and men alike are afraid to enter the conversation, feeling that it indicates one of the following:
-Implies a level of monogamous commitment they are not ready for.
-Makes them think about things they would rather not (apparently knocking on wood is the preferred approach).
-It’s pointless. We can all use condoms forever. Until they break.
-It’s too awkward to bring up until they have a good reason.
Hello? Isn’t feeling worry-free reason enough? Isn’t the idea of frolicking safely across the bedroom furniture unconstrained enough grounds to make us all talk about safe sex immediately?
So thinks my dear friend Sam. He was visiting from NYC when I was conducting my “very non-scientific” poll. He definitely seemed more progressive than his west coast counterparts: “In New York everyone seems to be casual and STDs can run rampant if you are not careful. Thus, I have no issue bringing up the topic early in a relationship while we are still mostly clothed. Why wait? We are adults. We all know we will want to get bare butt-naked eventually. Regardless of what the answer is, I want to know about it, prepare myself for it, and ensure we are safe from the moment the passion heats up.”
Although going to a free testing clinic on a first date may be a bit early, I do urge everyone to talk about it before the bedroom antics go into high gear. Slip-ups DO happen. And according to one urban legend, you can even pick up a disease from dry humping these days.
Read Heidi’s last blog: Tricky Underwear