Telling your partner or potential love interest that you have an STI is never the most pleasant conversation to have, but it’s one of the most necessary things to discuss. Before you have the big conversation, it’s natural to fear rejection. Your partner may be scared off by your status, their potential risk, or stigma associated with STIs.
Here are some steps to take to make the process go a little smoother.
Tell Them Before You Have To
If you aren’t already in an established relationship of some sort, it may not be wise to enter one without disclosing your STI status. While it’s not necessary to tell everyone you meet about your STI status, you shouldn’t wait too long to disclose it to an individual you’re considering being intimate with. As soon as you know that things may be headed in that direction, it’s best not to wait. The person receiving the news may get frustrated if they feel as though you’ve kept such a vital secret for so long – or you may become frustrated if they end your relationship because of this knowledge. Just like with a chronic illness or disability, disclosing early can save you from becoming invested in someone who will wind up hurting you down the line.
You deserve more than that.
Pick the Right Place and Time
Waiting until you’re in the heat of the moment to disclose your STI status is a bad idea. It can result in anger, frustration, and other negative emotions that can kill a relationship. Like any difficult conversation, you should do it away from the bedroom, fully sober, alone together, and with words prepared.
If You’re Non-Monogamous
This is a great time to discuss how to protect yourselves and each other going forward as well as how often you will get tested in the future. Knowing your status is important for both of you as well as any partners you have.
If You’re Monogamous
If you’re monogamous and contracted the STI from someone who is not your partner, this is going to be difficult news to deliver. It’s important to be both honest and forthcoming.
If you’re positive beyond the shadow of a doubt that you got the STI from your partner, the worst thing you can do is overreact and create an escalating situation. Since many STIs don’t cause symptoms, it’s likely your partner didn’t know their status from before you were together. If you suspect cheating is a factor, bring it up in a straightforward way.
Take Them to Get Tested
If there’s any risk at all you might have exposed your partner to your STI, ask your partner to get tested. If you’re currently in the process of treating away an STI, it might be a comfort to your partner to see your exit paperwork that shows you test negative for your STI when that time comes (if applicable). Click here to find testing locations near you.
Make sure you and your partners get tested regularly if you’re non-monogamous.
Learn Your STI Facts
Some STIs never go away, but can be controlled with treatment. For instance, if you have HIV, having an undetectable viral load means you cannot pass on the condition to others – regardless of whether or not a condom is used. If you have a curable STI, let your partner(s) know how long you’ll need to receive treatment before you’ll be given a free and clear status – and practice risk aware sex in the meantime.
This piece was written in part by David Beeshaw, a blogger and an advocate of sexual health, supporting raTrust – a non-profit organization dedicated to STI and HIV prevention.