I’ve been sexually active for more than twenty years, and nowadays, it’s pretty darn easy to fall in bed on the first or second meeting or “date”—if that’s what we even call it these days. Here’s the real question: when and how is the right time to ask that all important "sexy health” question? Ten years ago, I thought it was almost foreplay to ask, “Hey, wanna go get a blood test together?” as a way to start off a sexual relationship with a clean bill of health. But we’re concerned about more than just AIDS. STDs are just as critical. To get down and dirty here, my experiences often go like this: making out (kissing, clothes on); heavy petting (feeling each other, under the clothes, clothes come off); oral sex (why this often happens before sex, I’m not sure, but it seems to work out that way); sex. Oral sex can be just as dangerous if someone has herpes for example, and is in no way “safe” sex. But when relationships get physical so easily these days, I’d like to be down about getting that important knowledge on the table before going down. I also don’t want to be a turn-off, mood killer, or turn the conversation into something that seems premature for the emotional stage of the relationship. Thoughts? —NQ
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
The REAL question is—why are you falling into bed with most folks on the first or second date? What happened to talking, sharing feelings, going on a picnic, and just getting to know one another? Perhaps twenty years ago, when you were first discovering the joys of sexual intimacy, that passion was so overwhelming that you just jumped into bed. Honey, you are a big girl now, an adult. Now act like one. If you wait and really get to know someone outside of the sack, you can create an ideal moment to talk about your sexual history and health. That way, when you do “get it on,” you can enjoy his healthy body, and all of the wonderful emotions that come with really knowing someone.
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Oh, NQ, if only safe sex could be like that Dial deodorant commercial from the eighties: “Aren’t you glad you use condoms? Don’t you wish everyone did?” But they don’t. The world is one big, horny place and everybody’s got their unlatexed stuff touching everybody else’s unlatexed stuff. So “The Talk” is crucial.
It seems there are a couple of different possibilities for having it. The first is for the hook-up you’re not dating. (Not ideal, I know, but it happens and it needs addressing.) In this situation, there’s probably not a lot of “getting to know” you time (unless you count the minutes in between making out in the taxi). Asking if there’s anything you need to know about before proceeding beyond mere nakedness is HIGHLY recommended. If it’s a one-night kind of thing, who cares what he/she thinks?
But let’s also be realistic. We all know that talking about that stuff is less likely to happen in this scenario (shame on all of us), so a standard course of action is required here, with or without the talk: wrap that stuff. No ifs, ands, or vaginas. And I mean really wrap it. Like an Egyptian mummy. Make sure nothing gets through to your precious and clean private parts. And no sucky-sucky or licky-licky unless you want to end up as the lead in a Valtrex commercial. Let your fingers (and hands) do the walking. Because you can wash them. (The previous sentence is sponsored by Dial! Just kidding, legal people.)
If you’re dating someone that you like and actually see a future with, I think you should have the conversation before you get down and dirty, away from the bedroom or wherever you like to get hot and heavy. That way, it won’t be a mood killer. Though truthfully, I would be flattered and find it pretty hot that a man liked me enough to actually take the time to talk about this, because this last time someone did this was…um…oh right. NEVER. It seems the ladies lead the charge on this—and taking charge is hot, right?—but I could be wrong. Disease-free private parts and bodies are all the rage and talking about them—mood killer or not—is an absolute must.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Hey, NQ, the eighties called and they want their naiveté back! Sweetie, if you think it’s a mood killer to ask a guy what he’s packin’ before you get physical, imagine what a downer it’s going to be when you find out you should have sucked up 2.3 seconds worth of embarrassment to avoid a lifetime living with something you can’t shake! Seriously, I think it’s expected to get that question out of the way somewhere between heavy petting and stepping up to the mic. Why not get it all out on the table so you can really enjoy yourself? If you’re embarrassed to bring it up, you don’t have to come right out and ask about a particular disease. You can ask “do you have anything I need to know about before we go any further?” He’s going to know exactly what you’re talking about. And if he has any self-respect at all, he’s going to give you an honest answer. Otherwise, you will have no one but yourself to blame when you discover some mystery fluid and have to track down the source of it. In today’s sexually active world, not having that conversation is simply not an option for you, me, or anyone else reading this column.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
As quickly as you move, I’d say the sexual health question needs to come right after, “Hi, nice to meet you.”
So, amend your experiences to this: Making out, heavy petting, and then insert your question here—AND NOTHING ELSE! “Before this goes further…anything I should know about? STDs?” The answer will determine how you’ll proceed from there.
Also, I feel individuals with an STD are obliged to mention this to anyone they are about to get intimate with. It would be nice if they offered up that information without you having to ask. That would be the moral thing to do. BUT—morals aren’t typically the first thing that “pops up” for those who have sex often and with many partners. The promiscuous lot may not want to say anything to hurt their chances with you. They’ll only “reveal” what they want you to see. It’s healthy and wise to be concerned and to ask potential sexual partners about their sexual health.
Could that be a turn-off? Maybe. But better to risk the mood getting killed than you.