The STD Talk

The STD Talk

There you are … it's only taken a few dates to figure out that you want to get hot and heavy with a wonderful new person. There's just one thing; you need to tell them you've got an ongoing or (perhaps) permanent Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection (STD/I), and there is a chance of it being transmittable. If broaching the topic makes you squirm, you aren't alone.

Sharing the fact that you have a communicable disease or infection can be nerve-wracking, even if you've had experience doing it before. Many thoughts can run through your mind, such as: "How should I bring it up? ... When? … Should I wait until we're about to have sex? … How will they respond, and what will they think of me?"…

There are so many possible reactions and powerful emotions involved. After meeting someone you're romantically interested in, bringing up an STD/I takes the discussion of safe sex to an entirely new level. So what is the right way to bring up an STD/I to a future partner?

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Accepting the reality

The task of telling a future partner about a current or ongoing STD/I becomes less of a burden if you've come to accept it yourself. Contracting a sexually transmitted disease may not have been foreseeable - despite even the most precautionary measures - but the fact of the matter remains that it is a reality that may never change. Being in denial of the condition will only prolong your anguish and isolate you from others.

Don't assume that having an STD/I spells the end of your sex life. In order to continue having positive self-esteem, along with a fulfilling sex life, one must learn to live with the existence of a venereal disease to the best of their abilities, managing it with confidence and certainty. This can be achieved through exercises in personal empowerment and education about STD/Is.

How will I know when I'm ready to talk about it?

At what point during the relationship do you broach the subject? Should you bring up early, during the preliminary stages of getting to know one another, or do you wait until the potential for a sexual relationship becomes apparent? It is entirely a personal choice and can vary from person to person. Sharing such intimate information depends on a number of factors, such as your dynamic with that particular individual, how confident you feel around unfamiliar people, and the opinions they've shared through casual conversation.

Since there is no way to predict a person's reaction, don't spend unnecessary energy on "what ifs" and, above all else, avoid projecting your own judgments and feelings onto others. There will be some who react negatively to your news, but there will also be others who won't bat an eye. Instead of worrying about what they'll think, pay closer attention to your intuition, using it as the principle indicator for disclosure.

How do I bring up my STD/I?

Once you've decided to discuss your STD/I with a potential partner, present the information as neutrally as possible, being mindful of your body language and manner of speech. Allow them time to process the information. It's possible that they'll need some distance in order to let it sink in - meaning it may take a day or two, or even a week. If you care about that person, respect their need to make an unpressured decision, especially if they have feelings for you.

One of the best ways to become confident at talking about your STD/I is to educate yourself about the condition. Read our articles and ask your doctor or health professional about where to find other reliable, up to date sources of information. Learn the facts and offer to share these with your partner, or encourage them to seek out information for themselves.

Where and when?

Choose a time and place that is neutral; that is to say, one where you won't be interrupted or distracted. Discussing it during a walk is a good idea, as is after a meal or over a cup of coffee. Stay calm and present the facts. It'll be much more difficult for your partner to react objectively if you're using the opportunity to sort through unsettled emotions. Having an STD/I won't always be easy, which is why it helps to work on personal growth and self-acceptance before engaging in a sexual relationship.

What if they react badly?

Since you don't want to project negative energy, it's best not to expect the worst. However, be prepared for every outcome, positive or otherwise. If a potential partner declines having a sexual relationship with you, try not to take the rejection personally. They're making a conscious, informed decision about their sexuality, a choice that deserves respect. If you're a person who contracted an STD/I unknowingly, you'll know from experience that you would have appreciated having all the facts before entering into a sexual relationship. The last thing you want is to pressure or guilt someone into having sex, only to find out later that they've contracted the same STD/I.

Seek support from others

Practice talking about your STD/I out loud. You may also want to ‘role-play’ with someone you trust, having them provide constructive feedback about your delivery. Seek individual counseling if you need one-on-one advice. Peruse online forums or community support networks for guidance and support. There are also dating sites that are specifically designed for STD/I positive individuals to help find each other. Because of the prevalence of STD/Is, there are many people who know exactly what you're going through; their experiences can inspire you to rise above personal and social limitations. The more comfortable you are with having an STD/I, the easier - and less anxiety ridden - it will be to confront future partners.

Final Thoughts

If you choose to have sex without disclosing your STD/I, you may be putting others at risk of contracting the same, being in pain, and potentially threatening their lives. If you contract an STD/I unexpectedly, you know the physical and/or emotional strife it can cause. Don't subject others to the same - not only is it illegal in some states, it is unfair and doesn't change the fact that it happened to you.



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