We all know that we should be engaging in safer sex. We know what we should be doing, that message is drilled into us over and over—use protection, but we also know there is a difference between what should be done in theory and what we actually do in the moment. The real world, with all of its messy, complex, and thrilling ways, is where safer sex practices get harder to implement.
Sometimes we feel ashamed or scared or too lost in the moment to say something. Sometimes saying nothing is the easiest way to go. And sometimes our future selves end up deeply regretting our present self taking the easy way…
Today’s column comes courtesy of a reader who is struggling to have that awkward conversation around protection and is seeking some tips. Awkward conversations are one of my specialties and I have tips! If you have ever struggled with this topic, this column is for you!
“I know that I should be talking about protection with partners, but I find it so hard to bring up! I don’t want to ruin the mood or have someone shame me over requesting protection. How do I get the conversation started without them freaking out?”–Panicked Over Protection
In an ideal world, we would never have to discuss protection and could tumble effortlessly into risk-free bliss and dopamine. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world and as such have to alter our behavior accordingly. Hooking up with someone else comes with any number of risk factors, from UTIs to pregnancy to STIs. Protection lowers those risks dramatically, but many of us struggle with discussing the topic in a calm and effective way.
It’s Unfortunate That Discussing Protection Comes With So Much Baggage
I wish I could say that you should be able to bring up the topic of protection before the sexy times start and you will never be shamed or feel uncomfortable, but we both know that is not always the case. Instead, I want to offer you another way of looking at it.
Your sexual health and safety are incredibly important and valid. Getting access to your body and health is a privilege. Why would you grant that privilege to someone that is not going to respect it? Why would you grant it to someone who is not going to respect YOU?
Will there be some awkward moments when you bring up protection? Can someone make you feel uncomfortable or claims that will “ruin the mood”? Yes. For a fact, it happens. But the “mood” was pretty fragile to begin with if protection can ruin it. Think of it as a weeding out process—those that cannot hang are not worthy of your time and body. Your time and body are valuable things and should go to people that truly deserve them.
Make Protection Non-Negotiable
You ask how to have that “conversation without someone freaking out?” First, you have to accept that you can’t control other people’s reactions to things. The only thing in your power to control is your own actions in the situation. Second, before you find yourself in the situation you must find your own resoluteness on the issue. If you arrive at the conversation without absolute conviction about your needs that will leave a gap open that anyone who feels protection is up for negotiation will try to wedge themself into.
By advocating for yourself, by being willing to have those uncomfortable conversations, by letting people that shame you exit your life, you are freeing up space for those that will not shame you and care about your safety. Those are the people that are worth your time. Not sexual shamers.
It Will Get Easier With Time And Practice
If it helps any, it gets less awkward over time. The more you stand up for yourself and are willing to have those sexual health conversations, the easier they become. Eventually, you find that the thought of discussing safety concerns before sexy times is just one more thing on the checklist, not something that fills you with dread.
You only have one body—unlike cars or phones, you don’t get to trade it in for something different. The better we take care of our body, the better we tend to feel. Invest in yourself and don’t be afraid to tackle those hard but necessary conversations. If someone gives you static for caring about your sexual health and safety, show them the door. Thank you, next.
Keep it Kinky My Friends,
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