What’s the best way to bring up getting tested with a new partner? Gigi offers advice.
Q. I met a guy online and went out with him a few times. We didn’t have sex but we were very close to doing it. I told him I needed him to get tested and we need to be exclusive if we are going to have sex. After a week after he sent me a text saying he doesn’t want to see me anymore because he doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now. When is a good time to bring up “getting tested for STIs before sex” convo, I felt like I maybe pressured him too early and scare him away?
Linna, 27, Denver, CO
A. You have no idea how often people wonder about this. First of all, let’s start with the positive stuff. I’m very proud of you for asking this guy to get tested. Asking your partner to get tested is awkward AF. No one wants to do it and it winds up getting a lot of people in trouble.
Unfortunately, it feels like the vast majority of these conversations wind up being on the shoulder of us ladies. Most guys will just do whatever they can to get away without wearing a condom and think telling you, “I’m clean” is going to suffice. If you’re going to stop using condoms, both parties need to get tested for STDs. In a perfect world, you would get tested before having sex, but that isn’t really realistic.
So, this gets us into the not-so-positive stuff. A person, whether male or female, is not going to get into an exclusive relationship with you after only a few weeks. You are right in that you freaked him out. He isn’t going to get tested and be your boyfriend when he barely knows you. I personally don’t think it is fair to expect something like this. I know I personally would not be down for someone who told me I had to get tested for STDs and exclusively sleep with them before I could get some.
You may have thought that asking him to only have sex with you didn’t mean a relationship, but that is exactly what he thought you meant. When you commit to exclusively sleep with someone and get tested for STDs, that is the first step towards a relationship. This guy was clearly looking for something more casual.
That being said, you absolutely should be using condoms every single time you have a hookup. This is how you protect yourself from STDs. Even during oral sex. I know that sounds like a drag, but you can catch a multitude of STIs during oral.
If you’re hooking up with someone, dating, and want them to be your boyfriend or if he wants to stop using condoms, you can ask him to get tested and be exclusive. This is where you made the mistake. You can’t ask someone you’ve only seen a few times to commit to only having sex with you. That isn’t going to happen. If he wanted to stop using condoms, you can say that he has to sleep with you exclusively and get tested because that is a risk to your health.
Do you see the difference here? Don’t be too hard on yourself. No one knows what the hell they are doing in this crazy world of dating and we’re just trying to figure it out and find love. You have to make mistakes to learn from them.
Anyway, it does appear that you came on too strong in this particular case, but take this information into the future and use it with the next person you’re jiving with. Don’t bother dwelling on the guy who wasn’t into it. He’s a lost cause at this point.
If you’re really not going comfortable sleeping with someone using condoms without their being exclusively with you, I think you’re going to find dating pretty difficult.
Remember that it takes two to make a relationship work, and if you’re making demands like this, people are going to get weirded out. It’s not really the getting screened part, it’s the ‘you have to be only with me’ part that made him back off.
Getting tested is extremely important, but expecting someone to give up dating after a few weeks just to have sex with you isn’t particularly realistic.
Gigi Engle, aka Ask Auntie Gigi, is a sex writer and educator living in NYC. Her work has appeared on Elle, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Glamour, Allure, and Men’s Journal, Elite Daily and Thrillist. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @GigiEngle. Send questions to Gigi at firstname.lastname@example.org.