Entertainment Dating
Entertainment Entertainment Dating

How to talk about safe sex with a new partner

I’ve been dating this guy for a few months now. We haven’t had the “what are we” talk, but I presume that we’re both sleeping with other people. (For the record, I’ve slept with one other person). This kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement is OK in the short term, but I’m wondering how to bring up safe-sex practices without making it a big deal. It seems important to talk about these things, right?--Asking and Telling

Isn’t it strange that, when it comes to sex, we have few qualms asking someone to tie us up and call us Nancy Reagan (hypothetically), but asking that same person about their condom use is, like, super weird?

I know it can be awkward, but if you’re regularly boning this guy, you should have the balls to inquire about the whereabouts of his balls. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach didn’t work for the military, and it doesn’t really work in relationships either, for the same reasons that you brought up. I’m not saying you have to get a detailed play-by-play on all the girls he’s playing naked Canasta with, but yes, please talk about it. Especially if you’re having unprotected sex with other people (duh). This includes sharing toys and oral too (remember a few weeks ago when I ruined oral sex for everyone by mentioning parasites?). If you need a jumping-off point, I recommend this video of Indian men dressed as dancing condoms.

You’re not going to be perceived as Attila the Slut for talking about safer sex--and if he does try to slut-shame you, then he doesn’t deserve admittance to your vagina anyway. Asking about someone’s sexual history, the last time they were tested, etc. is not only responsible, it’s vital. According to the CDC, nearly 20 million new STIs occur each year in the U.S. And those are only the ones reported. Remember that many people don’t even know they have an STI, and therefore don’t get treated or tested.

No matter how nerve-wracking such a conversation about safer sex might be, remember that it’s far preferable to the one that starts, “So, I have this rash ...” Meaning don’t put your health and well-being on the back burner because you’re afraid to say “dental dam” aloud.

As a general rule, it’s better to have serious-ish talks while not naked, and not just because your tattoo of a five-legged octopus holding pancakes is distracting. Lust, that ever-reliable life plan, has a way of clouding our judgment in the heat of the moment, making us vulnerable to decisions we might regret later, like a tattoo of a five-legged octopus holding pancakes.

Another reason to communicate about safer sex practices and STI status is because you might get sued. For real. One woman was awarded $750,000 in court from her ex-husband because he gave her herpes and lied about it. Another was awarded $900,000, also from a date lying to her about having herpes.

But common decency and directness aside, in the end, what you DO is your best protection, more than what you talk about. You are your own best defense, in other words. While STIs affect both men and women, women face the most serious long-term consequences. So don’t be shy. It’s your health at stake. Now that we’re all sufficiently bummed out, let’s watch the dancing condoms video again.

Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Email your quandary to redeyedating@gmail.com.  Need to give your dating life a boost? Sign up for RedEye Dating.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Advice: Are group relationships the new fad?

    Advice: Are group relationships the new fad?

    OK, so are group relationships like the new fad in Chicago? I've heard people talking about them lately and noticed sections for them on dating websites. My bi-curious friend hooked up with a girl who is in a group relationship with that self-proclaimed sex expert. He's hot, but umm please. Are...

  • Advice: Can cheaters change?

    The old saying goes, "once a cheater, always a cheater." I have the opportunity to date someone I'm really, really into and who is really, really into me. Trouble is, he was in a long-distance relationship several years ago in which he cheated on his girlfriend multiple times. Mutual friends of...

  • Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Chicago's ban on plastic bags starts to take effect at many big stores Saturday, but an alderman who helped craft the law already is talking about changing it in order to thwart a few large retail chains that he says are trying to skirt the new rules.

  • State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    A man was shot multiple times while traveling in a minivan on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway on Friday morning, authorities said.

  • Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    It may sound like an urban legend: Music festival-goers bury bottles of booze in Chicago parks, plot a GPS location for the goods and uncover them days later when the festival comes alive.

  • Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    The Emanuel administration on Friday will propose an experiment at O'Hare International Airport to rotate the runways used late at night, possibly on a weekly basis, to spread out jet noise, the city's aviation chief told the Chicago Tribune.

  • Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Along Chicago's lakefront at Fullerton Avenue Beach, cranes rolled along a causeway that only a few months ago was part of the lake itself. Every day this summer, roughly 40 construction workers are filling in Lake Michigan with dredged material and gravel, which will eventually add up to 5.8 acres...

  • Doughnut panic

    Doughnut panic

    I'm not ashamed to admit that for the past several years, I have mapped my walk to work around which doughnut shop I'd like an excuse to stop at on the way. There's nothing like the thought of a crunchy, craggy old fashioned doughnut or the sweet, yeasty chew of a classic glazed doughnut to help...