Whenever we enter into a new relationship, it’s undoubtedly influenced in part by our sexual history. Whether we’re entering into a casual fling or heading to a big commitment milestone, it’s likely that the who, what, when and how’s of our sexual past will be up for discussion at some point.
That’s fine, – it’s totally normal to want to share everything with the person we care about. But sometimes, as in the cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or birth control those difficult sexually-themed conversations are absolutely necessary to have in order to maintain a healthy relationship.
Although your sexual history is history for a reason, every sexual experience you’ve ever had will have contributed to the person you are today, so when it’s time to share a little of your past with a new partner, there are some guidelines to follow which may make those chats go a little smoother.
Here’s our advice for talking about sex, sexual health and contraception, with your partner, whatever your situation.
DO: Decide why you need to have this conversation
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to talking about sex and your sexual history, but if your partner is pressuring you into revealing how many lovers you’ve had and you’d rather not disclose that info, then that’s your prerogative.
Remember that you’re under NO obligation to talk about things that make you uncomfortable and in the case of past sexual experiences, it’s solely your business. However, if you’re jeopardising the health of your current partner with risky sexual behaviours or, withholding information about STI’s or diseases then they definitely have a right to know.
DO: Share sexual information that may affect your partner
Although your sexual history is just that, it’s yours. There are some situations in which opening up to your partner is necessary for ethical reasons. Talking about sex is sometimes tough, no matter how close you feel with your partner. But if you’ve been affected by a traumatic experience in the past and find intimacy hard, or, you suffer from a sexual dysfunction problem, you may find that confiding in your partner, although especially tricky, can help you feel more comfortable in having sex again.
There are also ethical rules involved with sharing certain sexual information. If you have a communicable STI or, are HIV or AIDS positive, not telling your partner is putting their life at risk and in the UK, it’s actually breaking the law, too.
Remember that the most recent set of UK data from the FPA (2015) showed that national STI diagnoses were still at 434,456; so be sure to get yourself checked regularly for sexual infections whether you’re in or out of a relationship. STI’s such as chlamydia often don’t have recognisable symptoms but can still have adverse effects on your health.
DON’T: Avoid the topic of contraception
No matter if you’re ready to forgo condoms in favour of another type of contraception, or you’re just happy to stay on the pill, patch or IUD, contraception should be a shared responsibility for couples. Try and talk about what options work best for you both before you start being intimate and if you’re already in a relationship but what to change contraceptives, do your research about all the alternatives before suggesting them to your partner.
DON’T: Lose your cool
The person you are today could be markedly different from the person you were some time ago and of course, the same probably applies to your partner.
Try to refrain from judgement or unhelpful comments if your partner reveals something in their sexual history that you don’t approve of and remember that getting jealous of something that happened a long time ago, won’t change what happened.
If you know you don’t like hearing sexual stories about the person you now care about, don’t ask! Similarly, if you feel like your partner is making you feel bad for your sexual endeavours, let them know, or shut the conversation down for good. Talking about sex shouldn’t make you lose your cool.
DO: Have the conversation when you’re both ready to
If you’re keen to broach the topic of sexual history with your partner, then find a time in which talking about sex and sexual history works for you both, perhaps during a quiet moment in the evening when you’re both relaxed or, over a chilled-out meal. If you’re finding things tough, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor offers discreet sexual health testing kits which may help get the ball rolling and, you can also speak to one of our fully-qualified doctors about switching contraceptives, too.