By: Diane, a Sexuality Educator
Let’s face it: there can be some uncomfortable moments when it comes to communicating with a potential or current partner about sex. Whether you are asking if your partner has been recently tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also known as STDs) or discussing using condoms, communicating about sexuality can sometimes be downright awkward.
Take the following story told by a friend. She was taking birth control pills and wanted to explore the possibility of no longer using condoms with her boyfriend. First though, she had to make sure they were not at risk for STIs:
We were sitting there and I was the one who said, “Okay, neither one of us like using condoms and I am on the pill and I have been tested, I am clean….” I just sat there not wanting to look him in the eye because it all kind of came out in an awkward rush.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to have these kinds of talks without the awkwardness? Well the Educators at SARPHE can help you with those difficult conversations about birth control or STI testing. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding an excuse to bring the topic up, like these conversation starters:
“I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and she asked me if I needed an STI test. It got me thinking; maybe we both should get tested, just to be safe.”
“I heard that 1 in 2 sexually active people will get an STD by age 25 — and most won’t even know it. Maybe we should get tested just to be sure we’re both OK.”
Remember, your partner might be thinking the same thing and just not know how to bring it up!
If your partner doesn’t like using condoms, ask why. Condoms come in a variety of different sizes, materials, textures, and even flavors. You might find that using a different type of condom solves the problem. For example, if your partner finds condoms to be desensitizing, you could suggest a sheer condom to increase the sensation. (Check out Jessica’s SARPHE blog post for fun condom info and tips for use!)
If your partner is making excuses for not wanting to use condoms, here are some ways to respond:
“I don’t like sex as much with a rubber, it doesn’t feel the same.”
“This is the only way I feel comfortable having sex but believe me, it’ll still be good even with protection! And it lets us both just focus on each other instead of worrying about accidentally getting pregnant.”
“I don’t have a disease, don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you, but anyone can have an STI and not even know it. This is just a way to take care of both of us.”
“I didn’t bring any condoms.”
“I have some, right here.”
Check out the American Sexual Health Association website for more tips on talking about condoms!
Communicating with your partner is a great way to make sure that you are both on the same page about your sex life. Being able to talk honestly about your STI status, birth control, the kind of relationship you want, and your sexual boundaries can create a more satisfying and healthy relationship for both of you.
By the way, the benefits of sexual communication don’t end with the birth control and STI protection. Recent research has found that communication during sex is linked with higher levels of sexual satisfaction. In other words, communicating with your partner about what kinds of touches feel the best for you and desires you might have, can take your sex life to a whole new level. Remember, no one is a mind reader – your partner can’t know what you like if you don’t say anything!
Hopefully you and your partner can be comfortable having honest and open communication about sex. But even if it is a little uncomfortable at first, you and your partner can say what needs to be said and at the end of the day you can laugh about how awkward it was.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering what happened when my friend asked her boyfriend about STI testing, this was his reply:
“Well, I just switched my health insurance, and I had to get tested. I came back with clean test results sooo….”
And they lived sexually healthily ever after, thanks to awkward moments in sexual communication.