Every good relationship involves serious communication. That means talking to your partner about topics that can be very uncomfortable or prone to resulting in conflict. Finances, sex, parenting and pursuing life goas together are all such topics.
When it comes to communicating on intimacy, each couple has some specifics to focus on. One such topic, however, is universally important. It’s the topic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most people have some sort of background and history. When getting in a serious, committed relationship or marriage, that history has to be discussed.
If you feel reluctant about discussing STDs/STIs with your partner, here are some tips and pointers to help you ease into the conversation and make the most of it.
What You Should Talk about
The topic of sexually transmitted diseases is quite broad. So, in order to talk to your partner, you’ll have to narrow things down.
It’s always easiest to broach the subject as a matter of fact conversation. This will give you an opportunity to monitor your partner’s response, direct the discussion a certain way or leave it for the future (if they don’t seem ready to talk). In the last case scenario, it’s important to bring things up again in a few months as this is something you should be open about.
You can always set an example by opening up about your history (or the lack of such) and your view on STDs/STIs and getting tested. By being so transparent, you’ll encourage your partner to do the same thing. When they do speak up, make sure that you’re listening! Such talks are two-directional. Your significant other’s input will reveal a lot about their attitude, upbringing and the things you can do.
Some topics you may want to discuss include boundaries, contraception, STD prevention and protection and STD testing (more about that – later). The topic of sex itself is pretty broad, so don’t hesitate to explore any facets of personal interest.
Asking Your Partner to Get Tested Together
The next step should be to ask your partner about getting together.
There’s a pretty wrong belief in Singapore that STD testing is reserved solely for high risk individuals. This isn’t the case. STD screening is a viable option for anyone who is sexually active. There’s a simple reason why – being sexually active means there’s some risk of having an infection passed on from a sexual partner (even if that risk is minor).
Married couples in monogamous relationships can go for STD testing regularly two times per year or so. Such screening is sufficient to ensure the safety of both people involved.
Suggesting getting tested together will be perceived in one of two ways. In the first scenario, your partner will be open to the suggestion. That’s the best case scenario, simplifying all the subsequent steps.
On the other hand, your partner may feel offended by the suggestion. They could see STD screening as the lack of trust on your behalf. Make sure they understand this isn’t the case.
If this is the very first time you’re having the conversation, give them some time to process the idea.
Also, understand the fact that STD stigma is a real thing and it affects many people in Singapore. Significant re-education may sometimes be required to turn the situation around.
In the event of a hostile reaction, ask your partner about their feelings. Be open, receptive and gentle. Chances are that their upbringing or some inner insecurity will be standing in the way. Let them know that you’re here for them and that you’ll go through the process together. If a person cares enough about you, that should be sufficient to change their mind.
How about Discussing a STD You May Have
The conversation takes on a whole different dimension if you have a STD. In that case, however, it’s even more important to have this conversation.
Telling a partner about an STD as soon as possible is the right thing to do. Understand that such a medical condition doesn’t make you unworthy or unlovable. Most STDs can be treated or managed. With the right diagnosis and medical plan, you can enjoy a healthy sex life without endangering anyone.
It’s generally a good idea to have the conversation in a cool, calm and neutral manner. Don’t be remorseful, apologetic or ashamed. You wouldn’t feel this way about another medical condition, would you?
Let them know that you’re interested in being 100 per cent honest. Also, focus on their health and wellbeing and your concern. If your partner feels that you love them and care about them enough, chances are that they’ll be receptive to your message.
Again, you may need to give them some time and space to process the information. That’s ok.
Next, discuss a good course of action for the future.
Visiting a STD clinic like Shim Clinic together is always a good idea. This way, your partner can get some additional information from a medical professional, resulting in further reassurance and peace of mind.
Such a visit provides an additional opportunity to get tested together and to discuss the results of the screening with a doctor. At facilities like Shim Clinic, you can have a completely confidential information about common STDs, contraception, the best methods to protect yourself and the treatment options in the case of a positive result.
The sooner you go through these steps, the easier it will be for you to build trust in your relationship. Love and partnership are heavily dependent on respect, openness and kindness. While seeing the result you desire may take some time, the outcome is 100 per cent worth the original nerves and discomfort!