Bringing up condoms can feel awkward. Just remember two things: your partner may be just as nervous as you are when it comes to talking about condoms. So taking the first step will be a relief for them, too! Secondly, it shows that you are a responsible person who cares about your and your partner's health. Nothing awkward about that, right?
Sometimes, a new partner may be reluctant to use condoms. Then it's important to know a few facts and make a convincing argument as to why you should be using condoms. You can bring up the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STDs, and the fact that you find safe sex more enjoyable than sex with a health risk.
A common argument against condom use is that it could make sex less enjoyable (which doesn't have to be true at all). So the next time your partner whines about sex with a condom being less enjoyable, ask a question. Is no sex more enjoyable than having sex with a condom? Because that's what the only two choices should be.
If you are nervous about bringing up condoms with your partner, practice beforehand. Either on your own or have a good friend play the role of your partner. It may seem silly telling the mirror that you want to use condoms, but it will make you more confident about bringing it up in real life.
You can also write down some sentences beforehand. For example: 'I always use condoms with new partners to protect us both.' Or 'I'm happy to buy the condoms - do you prefer a special brand?' Make sure that from the very beginning, you make it clear that you have a 'no glove, no love' policy: sex will only happen with a condom.
The first time with a new partner it can be hard to pick the right moment to raise the topic. If you leave it till your underpants have already hit the floor, it could well be too late. There’s a high risk you’ll get carried away, and condom talk feels like slamming on the passion brakes. But if you raise the topic too early, you might worry that your partner thinks you’re being too forward. By the time you’re down to your underwear though, it’s pretty clear what direction things are heading!
Best of all is to get condoms on the agenda is when you’re still fully dressed if it’s obvious what’s going to happen. But as a rule of thumb, don’t leave it later than when you’re in your underpants.
If your partner isn't willing to use condoms, you need to be strong. Condom use shouldn't be negotiable. Don't believe any of the myths your partner might tell you in order to get out of using a condom. And don't give in to seemingly reasonable requests, like 'I just want to experience what it feels like without a condom for a little bit!'.
Stand your ground – either condoms or a recent STD screening for both partners or no sex! It sounds brutal, but do you really want to have sex with someone who doesn't respect you and themselves enough to have safe sex?
Talking about condoms at the beginning of a relationship is a great start. But you shouldn't be afraid to bring it up down the line again. In a committed relationship, people tend to switch to other contraception methods, like the pill or an IUD. But those don't protect from STDs.
Unless you and your partner get tested regularly for STDs and are 100 per cent faithful to each other, condoms may still be necessary. So if you suspect that your partner is having an affair, or you have more than one partner, start using condoms again until you get tested.
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