Despite the rampant education in schools, through our media, in our doctors’ offices, and pretty much anywhere you turn that the only safe sex is protected sex, STDs are again on the rise. Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are all curable forms of STDs. Hepatitis, genital warts (or human papilloma virus), and HIV are treatable (to varying degrees), but not curable and those carrying them must live with the condition for the rest of their lives. Along with the pain having an uncurable STD comes the unpleasant task of informing a new partner of your condition and its role in your sex life.
Telling a new partner that you have an STD is an experience riddled with anxiety. But, while there is an age-old stigma attached to having an STD, almost every sexually active person has engaged in risky sexual behaviour that could have led to contracting an STD—you were just dealt an unlucky hand. If the STD that you contracted is curable, thank your lucky stars and for the love of Pete, learn your lesson. If you were unlucky and the STD that you contracted is not curable, then it is something you are going to have to deal with either within your current relationship or in every subsequent sexual relationship you engage in.
It is difficult to tell a new partner that you have an STD especially if you have just found that you have an STD yourself. You will just be going through the stages of anger, confusion, acceptance, and education without having to worry about the guilt, uncertainty and anxiety of telling a new potential partner.
If the STD is curable, like gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis, you only need to tell a new partner if you contracted it or discovered that you had it after you started a sexual relationship with them. If you haven’t had sex with them yet when you discover your STD, seek treatment and abstain from sexual intercourse with them until you have fully recovered. And, when you decide to have sex with this partner, out of respect for them and yourself, use a condom.
Telling a new partner
When telling a new partner, it is important that you have a firm grip on your emotions about your STD. Your emotional position in regard to the STD will greatly influence your partner’s as it will affect the manner in which you tell them. You need to have a handle on how you feel about living with an STD (if it’s incurable) before you can convince someone else that it is worth dealing with.
It is imperative that you tell a new partner about your chronic STD before you begin a sexual relationship with them, but it is also important to wait until you feel like the relationship will evolve to that level. You’ill need to have established a level of attraction and trust between both of you before your new mate will want to consider adjusting their sex lives to a chronic STD. If you wait to tell a new partner until after you have already had sex with them, you have already established an environment of dishonesty, disrespect and distrust. That will not bode well when she is weighing the pros and cons of the relationship.
When you have decided that this girl is worth it laying on the line, choose a private place, such as your place or hers, where you can speak frankly and openly without the concern of interruption. (In bed, halfway to the prize is not an appropriate time.) As stated before, your demeanor in telling her is going to greatly influence the way she reacts. While you cannot control how she reacts, if you are calm and reassuring, hopefully she will mirror that.
You can open the conversation in several ways. If you are comfortable, start by telling her how much you like her and how happy you are when you are with her. Let her know that you really see good things with her in the future. If you are not comfortable with emotional talk (and you should get comfortable with it because she’s going to need to know if it’s worth it for her to stick around), start with a frank discussion of safe sex, STDs, and sexual history. Ask her if she’s ever been tested. If she talks about her own sexual history, you can get a sense of her experiences and attitudes, and it gives you a very good launch to talk about your sexual history.
Make sure that you are well informed about your condition before you tell your new potential partner. She is going to have lots of questions and if you are able to answer them, it shows that you are knowledgeable and willing to take responsibility for keeping her safe. It would be helpful to have some pamphlets available that she can look at for her own information. Get her asking questions so that this is a conversation, not just a monologue on your part. If she is participating in the discussion, you may be able to get a better feel for how she is reacting.
Recognize that this is a lot of information to digest in one sitting. You are going to have to discuss this again, probably several times, before she is comfortable that she has all of the information. She will also probably want to speak to her own doctor about it, about the risks and ramifications for her. No matter how well informed you are, she will still want to check it out for herself. Be prepared for her to want to cool off on the relationship until she feels that she has all the facts. This is not rejection and you should not treat it as such. This is your time to show how patient and understanding you can be.
You should be prepared for her decision not to go on with the relationship, just in case. Decide in advance how you are going to deal with that. If you are kind and understanding, there is a chance that after some time and contemplation, she may change her mind, miss you and want to try to make it work. You will not get this chance if you are angry and judgmental and lash out at her when she tells you her decision.
Telling a new partner can be very difficult and scary, but having a chronic STD is simply a medical condition that you need to manage (this is not to minimize your pain, but simply to put it in perspective). It is not character flaw. In the end, all you can do is be open, honest and respectful and find someone who is like-minded.