There’s no denying talking about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with your partner can be uncomfortable. Regardless of how much (or how little) you know about them, it’s an awkward conversation to have. But it’s necessary. After all, the only way to protect yourself and your partner is to be upfront and honest.
While that might sound easier said than done, this article can help prepare you for that discussion. From knowing the facts to making it a joint project, here are seven ways to encourage your partner to get tested.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Many people talk themselves out of having this conversation. They pretend it’s not a big deal or convince themselves there’s no way they could be exposed to an STI. The truth is, sexually transmitted infections are incredibly common. One reason is that many STIs don’t have symptoms, making them easy to pass from one person to another.
For this reason, anyone who’s sexually active should be tested. This is especially true if you’re dating someone new. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t trust your partner, but it’s good to err on the side of caution. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Do It Together
Asking your partner to get tested could bring about some insecurity. It might hurt their feelings and make them feel judged. To avoid this, consider getting tested together as a couple.
Instead of demanding your partner visit a clinic, ask whether they’ll get tested with you. Say something like, “We should both get tested to ensure we’re protecting each other.” Making it a couple’s activity can erase some of the awkwardness. If your partner refuses to get tested, take that as a sign to walk away from the relationship.
3. Know Your Options
Make sure your partner knows there are ways to get tested and treated for STIs in privacy. For example, with at-home STI testing, you can get tested and review your results from the comfort of your home.
Testing kits are delivered in discreet packaging and include everything you need to collect your sample and send it back. Once your sample is tested, a medical provider will reach out with your results and offer treatment if necessary. If your results are positive, you can work with a medical team 100% online to get needed antibiotics and other treatments.
4. Choose a Safe Place
When it comes to asking your partner to get tested, it’s important to pay attention to timing. This is a serious conversation and requires full attention from both of you. So don’t bring it up when you’re tired or when your partner is distracted playing video games. Pick a time when you’re both focused and calm.
You also want to make sure you’re having this conversation in an appropriate place. For example, you don’t want to talk about STIs while you’re out in public. Choose a place that’s private where you both feel comfortable and safe.
5. Don’t Wait to Ask
You might be wondering when you should ask your partner to get tested. Maybe you were recently matched on a dating app and have only been on a couple dates. Or perhaps you have been friends for years and recently connected on a romantic level.
It doesn’t matter how well or how long you’ve known this person. You should ask them to get tested when the time feels right for you. Obviously you’ll want to ask before your relationship becomes sexual. If their results are positive, you’ll know to take precautions when being intimate.
6. Share the Facts
It’s no secret that there are many misconceptions when it comes to STIs. One of the biggest misbeliefs about sexually transmitted infections is that they aren’t common. According to the World Health Organization, however, over 1 million STIs are acquired every single day. In 2020 alone, there were about 374 million new infections, including everything from trichomoniasis to gonorrhea.
As you can gather from these numbers, getting diagnosed with an STI isn’t an anomaly. Unfortunately, many people still think it’s a rare event and even a mark of poor character. When asking your partner to get tested, make sure they know the facts. Once you put the prevalence of STIs in perspective, there’s a good chance they’ll agree.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing how to have this conversation probably sounds weird. After all, who wants to stare at themselves in the mirror and talk about STIs? But practice makes perfect and will help you feel more confident when you talk to your partner.
If you’re nervous about having this conversation, consider rehearsing with a trusted friend or family member. Have them play the role of your partner and ask you questions so you can practice how to respond.
Chances are, your friends and family members will catch things you don’t hear. For example, they might suggest you reword something that could come across as offensive. Having this feedback can help you see a different side and ensure your language isn’t too harsh.
Asking your partner to get tested is a great way to protect yourself from STIs. And while this conversation probably won’t be fun, it’ll be worth it to know you’re being safe. Not to mention, this is a good test for your relationship. If you don’t feel safe having this discussion with your partner, that might be a sign they aren’t for you.