Here’s something scary: according to a recent survey by pharmaceutical company Merck & Co, one third of women rarely or never discuss their reproductive health with their partners. Say what? Although it might feel awkward to insert, “So…when was the last time you were tested for infections?” into casual conversation, good intimacy relies on good communication. Having an actual conversation about love-making before you’re in the heat of the moment is so important because it helps ensure that both parties are emotionally and physically prepared for it.
Here are 10 things you need to ask before you sleep with someone.
- When was the last time you got tested? And if a dude, says “recently” and then goes back to doing that thing to your chest, push for more details. Being an adult means getting tested regularly and being able to share with your partners when your last test was. If someone acts evasive, seems resentful of the question or tries and brush it off by saying something like, “Don’t worry about it, I’m clean!” consider this a red flag and approach this person with extreme caution.
- Have you been tested for HIV recently? If someone says “Hey, I just got a physical” don’t just assume that they’ve been tested for everything and anything. Often STD tests are by request only, so ask for details. It’s your body and health. It’s totally and 100% to ask about these things.
- How do you feel about using protection? Are you comfortable using condoms? Do you use them all the time or just some of the time? Are you OK using one with me? A lot of guys are averse to using protection, especially if they’ve just come out of a serious relationship where they haven’t had to use them for an extended period of time. There’s no bigger buzzkill than being in the heat of the moment, pulling out the protection and hearing the guy you’re with say, “Um, yeah, do we really have to use those?”
- If you don’t use protection, what are you using? I went out a few times with a guy who told me I shouldn’t worry about catching anything from him because he “always pulls out.” (Um, I don’t think it works that way, buddy!) His reasoning: “protection just feels impersonal” (and a baby or STD is so much more “personal.”) Although the “pull-out” or withdrawal method is popular (another recent study showed that one third of women ages 15-24 have used it as a form of birth control), if that episode of Portlandia featuring “The Pull-Out King” has taught us anything, it’s that it is not foolproof.
- Are you on the pill? If you’re a guy sleeping with a woman, this is something for you to ask. Ladies, this is something you should definitely bring up even if he doesn’t ask. The more info you both have, the better.
- Are you actually single? There have been more occasions than I’d like to admit where I’ve hooked up with a guy, only to find out later that he actually had a girlfriend. It’s not a good feeling. If the object of your lust says they’re in an open relationship, find out exactly what that means. For example, does their partner realize they are in an open relationship? No one wants to sleep with someone they presume is single only to find out that’s not the case.
- Are you sleeping with anyone else right now? Don’t assume that just because he’s been spending a lot of time with you, that you’re the only person he’s seeing. Talking about this not only can help prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings down the line, but it also provides you with the clarity you need to decide whether this is the right situation for you.
- Does the other person(s) you’re sleeping with know you’re seeing other people? Once again, asking this in advance can help mitigate future drama.
- What are you into? Before you hit the sheets, take some time to learn about what you both like. For example, perhaps you or your partner are really into anything other than the vanilla stuff. This is stuff that’s best to get out on the table ahead of the time so you can both relax and enjoy the experience. After all, as a friend once told me, “No one likes to be surprised by a gimp mask.”
- Do you want to make love? Consent isn’t just hot, it’s required. Always. No exceptions.