How do I talk to my Partner about STDs & Getting Tested?

After exchanging promising messages with someone who seems compatible, you're going out. Maybe for the first time maybe the 15th, but that is vaguely important as the connection is effortless and the chemistry is really strengthening the bond since the moment you've met. You're both eager about one another and with every subtle touch, eye gaze and shared breath you feel turned on in at least three different ways and before you know it, you're racing to get alone together and, well, take it there. PAUSE. You need to talk about STDs and your sexual health first!

What not to do:

Don’t try to stop mid lick and start talking about STDs and what your partner did last summer. I can’t think of a worse time to talk about sexual health than when my partner is giving me sweet seductive words and our bodies are finding ways to touch. At that moment, you’re probably not thinking about the responsible thing to do. Can you imagine easing up and bringing it back mid kiss? Awkward. Worse, your partner may guilt trip you into "smothering the mood," when you're just trying to be careful beforehand instead of sorry afterwards. When you think about it, the moments before you're getting down during foreplay probably are the least opportune time to address such a topic. So when and where is the best way to bring something this important up before it's too late? Here's a few tips on how to frame and let the words flow. 

1. Do pick a good time and place.
A quiet comfortable place when you have plenty of time to talk and not feel rushed. It's good to know your partners communication habits. If you know that looking into someone's eyes or face really makes your partner uncomfortable, try cuddling on the couch while you're binge watching reruns. It's okay they're just reruns. If you know that doing an activity while talking about something "deep" makes them more loquacious, maybe open up the convo while preparing a meal together. Both of those examples are comfortable for everyone involved in intimate settings with plenty of time to engage the topic.

2. Do break the ice gently. 
The opening example was a bit brutal. Although it was an intimate setting, the timing was just inappropriate. Bringing up sexual health in the moments before a session can oftentimes kill the mood and depending on the person, elicit lies. There's not enough room to actually talk about it because you feel rushed. 

3. Ask Questions, then answer them. 
If you're the one spearheading the topic, you have to ensure that your presentation is in a way that isn't an inquisition. You're just as culpable and responsible for what you're asking and the actions you agree upon afterwards so you have to make sure your partner is comfortable and getting a response from you just as you are expecting from them. Be open and responsive to their questions as well, surely they may have some. Open the floor for them to ask their own if they do not initially. Put them at ease to make sure they aren't feeling like they are put on the spot. 

4. Be Honest.
As uncomfortable as it sounds this is an obligation. Your and your partner's sexual health is on the line and the only way you can proceed safely is if everyone involved is being honest. Are you sleeping with multiple people only using condoms sometimes? Express that verbally. Have you had any STIs ever? Although it could have been over a decade ago say so. These are all very normal questions that the clinician will more than likely ask you as well so why not familiarize yourself with them while also strengthening the trust with you and your partner.

Talking is actually quite simple but the topic may not be as easy to discuss. These four suggestion make the conversation a lot less stressful for the both of you so that you're moving smoothly into the closeness you desire.

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