Let's Talk About Sex Baby
Question: I'm an independent, modern, sexually liberated woman and yet I still stumble over the right time and way to bring up the subject of STDs an STIs with new sexual partners—especially when they're casual. Sexual health is important to me and if I don't know their history, I'm not as comfortable in bed. How do I bring the topic up in a gentle way that still protects me?
Answer: I've found that while many independent, modern and sexually liberated people say that they care about their sexual health, in reality they care far more about their general sense of comfort in any given moment. And few of us are comfortable discussing STDs with someone new or casual.
Put on your big girl panties and decide whether you're going to have the conversation before getting intimate or not (before being the safest time). If you do, let yourself off the hook of it having to be gentle or lighthearted. It can simply be straightforward. "If we end up sleeping together, what should I know about your past?" can get the ball rolling.
The reason why this advice is difficult to follow through on is because it feels presumptive. We aren't always sure whether we will sleep together. If we do, we have no guarantee that it will be repeated. Requesting a full sexual narrative can feel like putting the horse before the cart.
If you aren't comfortable donning those big girl panties with someone you're still sussing out, here's your next best bet:
Make your initial sexual interactions as safe as possible. Planned Parenthood is a source on what's safest according to your orientation. Once you're sure that this person is a keeper, volunteer your own relationship and testing history over brunch or overpriced cocktails. Any well-adjusted person will gladly follow suit with their own.