Are STDs A Deal Breaker?
Here are a few expert tips to help you break the news to a potential partner.
If you thought the “your friends are annoying and I never want to hang out with them again” conversation was awkward, try telling her you have an STD.
That confession is never easy, sure. But the shame associated with having an STD makes people less likely to talk about it with former, current, and future partners, finds a new review from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The key to dating again is telling her about it the right way. (Go ahead, You can remove How to Live a Life of Celibacy from your Amazon cart and stop worrying your penis will fall off from lack of use.) Here are a few expert tips to help you break the news to a potential partner.
Curable STD? Just Delay the Deed
“If you just started dating someone and you’re being treated for a curable STD, don’t have sex and don’t bring it up,” says Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., communications expert and relationship therapist. “You’re not out to manipulate her—so if her health isn’t at risk, there’s no need mention it,” he says. “It could lead to unfair judgment for no reason.” Your move: Say you want to hold off on sex until you know each other better. (Just don’t put yourself in compromising situations—like in her bed after a night of drinking!) And of course, make sure you have the doctor’s OK before doing to the deed.
But if you’re dealing with an incurable STD (herpes, AIDS, and hepatitis B), you’ll need to have a talk. Here’s your plan.
Don’t Bring it Up Too Soon
Start dating as you normally would. “You wouldn’t reveal everything about yourself on the first date anyway,” says Wanis. After all, there could be no chemistry and she might turn out to be just a friend.
“Once feelings are involved, you don’t want to wait too long,” says Wanis. “It will just make it more difficult if she says it’s a deal-breaker.” Think: Serious enough but not too serious. Just delay the talk (and sex!) until you’re sure it could develop into a relationship.
How to Tell Her
State the facts without victimizing yourself or being defensive, Wanis recommends. “You’re telling the truth and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Being too defensive might increase judgment on her part. It’s not a reflection of who you are so don’t present it as such.
What if she tells her friends? By breaking the news free of shame yourself, she’ll be less likely to tell people with the intention of hurting you if things go sour. That said, “Be prepared that she might go to her friends for advice,” says Wanis.
Another good thing to mention: Explain how to reduce transmission. “You need to explain how it will affect your sex life together,” says Wanis. If you have herpes, for instance, you can greatly lower her chances of getting the disease with antiviral medication and condoms. Mention anything specific to your disease that she should know.
Give Her Time
Don’t expect an answer in the moment. “Present the facts, express that you still want to see her, but tell her to think it over,” Wanis says. Any initial reaction will be out of fear or obligation.
Be Brief with the Details
“People often want the back-story,” says Wanis. “But the more details she has, the more she’ll visualize the event.” Keep it brief. Sure, you can admit that it came from an ex, a friend, or even that random shot-girl from Cancun—but keep it minimal. She doesn’t need to replay your past in her mind.