I need advice on what to tell my partner.....
November 2, 2009 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I need advice on what to tell my partner.....

After having unprotected sex (no condom, we got tested (negative std tests)) for a few weeks with my partner (we have been dating for less than 4 months) I now feel after doing so, that it was too soon in our relationship for me. I want to go back to using a rubber. How would this look to you if your partner told you that?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total)
How would this look to you if your partner told you that?

If my partner came to after a few weeks of condomless sex and said that he wanted to start using a condom again, I would think that either he didn't trust me or that he was sleeping around. I mean, if you've been having sex without a condom for a few weeks, then I think anything you might have caught from your partner you would have caught by now - so why the change?

That's what I would think anyway. I'm not sure how to approach this without getting that reaction.
posted by patheral at 1:14 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't know if you are in an opposite-sex relationship or a same-sex relationship, but if one of you is a woman, I think you have an easy explanation in saying, "Look, I am concerned about pregnancy and would like to use a condom."

I don't know if that is your reason but it is a perfectly valid one. If your partner disagrees then he/she is perfectly free to stop having sex with you.
posted by muddgirl at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2009

There are no genders here, but I'm assuming a heterosexual relationship. The following advice does not apply for male homosexual sex (and female homosexual sex shouldn't require a (regular) condom):

If you frame it as a pregnancy concern rather than an STD concern, then your partner should understand fully. That is a completely valid concern, at any time, and whatever you're doing to prevent pregnancy can only be increased by condom use.

FWIW, this has happened in one of my relationships, and it was a non-issue.
posted by brainmouse at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

STDs aren't the only thing that condoms prevent - there's also pregnancy. I'd approach it from that angle. You don't specify your gender (or your partner's, for that matter - if you are gay men then obviously ignore this) - but it seems pretty reasonable to me to say "Hey, I'm a little freaked out about the whole possible-pregnancy thing, I'd like to go back to using protection. I'm not ready for kids."

Leave the STDs out of it, even if they are your main concern.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2009

Forgot to add that the second part of my advice is valid no matter what your reason is. It is your responsibility to feel safe in your sexual relationships, and if your partner is the type of person to get mad or offended at that, then he or she is not concerned about your safety.
posted by muddgirl at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're hetero, it makes more sense--babies and STDs vs just STDs is a different thing.

If babies are in the picture, say you really need to double up on protection (the pill AND condoms) because you can't have a baby right now and don't want to deal with an abortion.

If STDs are the only concern, well, your partner might be upset but you should never have sex that makes you uncomfortable. Not worth it.

I, personally, would rather have someone tell me they're not ready for something.
posted by kathrineg at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had to have a slightly similar conversation with a partner once. Basically he'd had a vasectomy, we got the "all clear" message, had unprotected sex and then got the "o shi, not really all clear" message [i.e. earier message was a mistake] and I nearly died of "omg I cannot be pregnant" anxiety. SO part of this is why you want to rubber up again. I am presuming pregnancy concerns, but there could be other reasons such as being non-monogamous or just ... dunnow that's what you want. I guess you need to think abotu this, outline your reasons and decide if it's a dealbreaker for you or not. My guy was a little fidgety about going back to condoms, but I was pretty firm about it and in the end ir worked out totally fine.

If you do decide to have the talk about it, I'd think about what you're asking -- go back to condoms forever? go back for a while, how long? possible other alternatives? -- and what if any compromises you're willing to make. Some people are very "hell no" about condoms but most people I've met would rather have sex with someone they liked than draw a line in the sand over them.
posted by jessamyn at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2009

Yeah, if it's a pregnancy concern, it's totally legitimate. I had this exact thing happen in a previous relationship - we got tested, went condom-free, after just a couple of weeks we went back to using condoms because we weren't able to relax trusting just her Pill. If pregnancy isn't a concern for whatever reason, you may want to figure out how to better explain to your partner than just saying "too soon in our relationship"; if my partner said that to me, I'd definitely immediately start worrying that they'd slept with someone else, or intended to. That's not to say that you don't have legitimate concerns about intimacy, but you may want to find new words to describe them.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2009

The genie is out of the bottle. I'd be pretty weirded out if an SO asked me to go back in time like that (barring the pregnancy issue; that's evergreen, in my book).

As patheral points out, if it's just an STD issue, I don't think it is reducible to the other partner "not being concerned about your safety." Tacitly, it suggests 1) the requester is sleeping around, but doesn't want to infect the other party, or 2) the requester doesn't trust that the other party is not sleeping around. Personally, 1) is disconcerting, and 2) is insulting. I'd walk.

Again, this leaves pregnancy off the table. And it goes without saying, you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable, regardless of whether or not it is offputting to someone else.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

...or the requester doesn't trust the drug tests, for whatever reason. The post is very thin, and if they've only been dating 4 months, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask to be re-tested at 3 or 6 months after the first test.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on November 2, 2009

This is your body. Do what you want and you need, regardless of what the other person thinks. If s/he likes you / respects you, s/he will plan accordingly, condom in tow. If not, get the heck out of dodge.
posted by cachondeo45 at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

Seems like a number of people here are encouraging you to be dishonest (i.e. claim that this is all about pregnancy risk when it's not). IMO, having to lie about your motives is never a good thing to do in a relationship. You should be completely honest about what you want, and why you want it, and proceed from there.
posted by jbickers at 1:48 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound weird to me, it sounds sensible, whether you're gay or straight. Four months is too short to be at all certain (to the extent one ever can be) about the other person's habits, honesty, fidelity, etc. I don't know - my boyfriend and I have been using condoms for 2+ years now. Just tell your partner what you've said here - "I feel like it was a little early to stop using condoms and I want to go back to them." If there are technical issues (feel, etc.) then work on those. A little lube inside helps the wearer and a lot of lube outside helps the other person.
posted by tamaraster at 1:48 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seems like a number of people here are encouraging you to be dishonest (i.e. claim that this is all about pregnancy risk when it's not).

I don't know that we are encouraging dishonesty. The OP provided no useful information on what, exactly, their concerns are; we're pointing out that feeling uneasy over pregnancy is totally reasonable, but that it's difficult to approach the topic on STDs without it sounding like the OP is worried about somebody's infidelity. Just because you want to be honest in a relationship - which you do - doesn't mean that the OP's SO won't be very likely to draw certain conclusions. If anything, we're encouraging greater honesty because we want the OP to be explicit about why he/she wants to go back to condoms, instead of being vague ("too early") which will probably make their SO suspicious.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Partner, I'm really, really paranoid about STDs and (if applicable) pregnancy. I just don't feel right not using a condom. I think all those HIV/unplanned pregnancy ads and movies have baked the fear deep into my psyche. Let's go back to the condoms for a while, okay.

It might cause some relationship issues, but it's better to have sex that feels, and is, safe.
posted by theora55 at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would just say that after thinking about it some more, you realized that you feel it was too soon to go without condoms, and want to go back to using them for now. I think that's totally reasonable, regardless of the reason. It's possible your partner might want more of an explanation, but it just sounds like you think this was simply too soon for you to be comfortable with, so reassure them nothing has changed, you just feel like maybe you are moving a little quicker than you should. I would think someone who cares about you would understand that and have no problem with slowing things down a bit and reverting to using more protection. Best of luck.
posted by katemcd at 2:25 PM on November 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

[few comments removed - please dial it back a bit about what we do or do not know about the OPs motivations, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:29 PM on November 2, 2009

Tell them you hate the icky mess and the cleanup is much easier.
posted by IanMorr at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

If I were the partner, I really can't imagine how I wouldn't get offended over this. I'm a dude, so keep that in mind here. And I assume you're a woman in a heterosexual relationship.

If I got the "too soon" conversation, I'd assume that what you wanted was less intimacy. That you wanted a barrier between us. Once a barrier (physical or psychological) has been removed, I'd rather end the relationship than add back the barrier.

If I got the STD talk, I'd wonder if you were sleeping around. Suddenly asking to use condoms regularly implies, to me, that you're trying not to infect somebody (either me or your other partners) with some new crud you might be acquiring--since you probably already caught anything I might have. Sleeping around could be negotiated out as alright, but then I'm still left with the question as to why we need a condom, unless I'm on the same relationship level as all your other tricks. If I'm just another trick, then this isn't the kind of relationship I want.

I guess the pregnancy issue might not offend me, but it might make me think you're an irrationally anxious or consevative person. If you're on the pill or have an IUD or norplant or whatever, I'd conclude that you're essentially incapable of taking even calculated risk. That's kind of game over right there, for me. Maybe your partner's a belt-and-suspenders kinda guy, but most people aren't.
posted by Netzapper at 2:42 PM on November 2, 2009

Not on preview: Tell them you hate the icky mess and the cleanup is much easier.

This is a reason to use condoms on occasion, if you're female--it doesn't help cleanup for a dude at all. Like, if we're doing it in the park or your mother's place or right before sleeping, and we can't make it to the shower.

However, if my cum is so odious to you that you consider it "icky" and never want to touch it, then we have a problem. That implies to me that you will never want to touch it. And having condom-clad sex for the rest of my life sounds miserable.
posted by Netzapper at 2:46 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Come on, Netzapper. Even dudes in same-sex relationships have to deal with the dreaded "semen in the crack" phenomenon. It IS an icky mess.

I have heard a couple times on Metafilter that some men get really really really sensitive about anything having to do with their penis and penis-related domain, and that any sort of rejection of anything they want to do, ejaculation-wise, is seen is a rejection of the whole person. So if the partner in the OP is that kind of man, then the OP will have to weigh his or her own needs against her desire to be in a relationship with this kind of man.
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on November 2, 2009

I don't know whether you're gay or straight, Anonymous, but you could just tell your partner that you're really more comfortable having protected sex at this stage in your relationship, that it's just what you're used to, and it's no reflection on your opinion of him/her.
posted by katillathehun at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I want to second katemcd--sometimes you just realize after you've done something that you weren't comfortable with it. I'm sorry if your partner ends up suspecting you of cheating, but it seems so straightforward to me to be able to simply say, "It turns out I'm not comfortable with this; it was too soon for me; I need to take a step backward."
posted by not that girl at 4:53 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

you could just tell your partner that you're really more comfortable having protected sex at this stage in your relationship, that it's just what you're used to, and it's no reflection on your opinion of him/her.

The voice of reason. There's nothing else really to say, is there?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

What are you worried about, if not pregnancy, and given that your tests were "all clear?" *Do* you think your partner is cheating? *Are* you? Otherwise, your anxiety is misplaced, which isn't to say you aren't entitled to it, but it will weird out your partner. If you've both been cleared by a battery of tests, then don't be paranoid and weird. Are there things that don't always show up on tests? Yeah, although the major one is herpes, which condom use does not (despite conventional wisdom) protect against very effectively anyway. HIV, the big scary thing (about which people obsess far too much relative to the risk for straight people, anyway, which is not to dismiss it, but just to say treat it as a fact of modern life, but not a terrible scary boogeyman) is reliably tested at a few weeks now, and certainly at 4 months except in an infinitesimal number of cases. If you two have been monogamous, and having unprotected sex, for four months, and you're both negative for HIV, you have almost no reason to fear anything, with "almost" amount to one in many millions, maybe, of HIV infections that would not have shown up by now.

This sounds to me more like an anxiety issue than a legitimate health concern. Nothing wrong with yielding to your anxiety if it makes you feel better, but it may make your partner feel weird and suspicious -- or suspected, as someone above said clearly.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2009

Come on, Netzapper. Even dudes in same-sex relationships have to deal with the dreaded "semen in the crack" phenomenon. It IS an icky mess.

I'm sorry. I actually should have said: "This is a reason to use condoms on occasion, if you're female receiving partner--it doesn't help cleanup for a dude penetrating partner at all."

I'm just saying that, in terms of cleanup, it doesn't help much for the one whose dick is inside the condom. The condom fills up with cum and you've gotta wash/wipe your dick off anyway. What's a little pussy juice in the mix?

All that said, I always wear a rubber during anal sex as the penetrator, simply to reduce the chance of urinary tract infection. But as a bottom, in an exclusive relationship with a clean partner, I doubt I'd request a condom on a regular basis. The lube is a mess to clean up on its own; adding semen to the mix doesn't really change how much cleanup is required.

Even in a non-exclusive relationship, assuming we're primary partners, I'd only request condoms be used with secondary partners. But then, while they're a necessary evil, I fucking hate fucking with a condom--either giving or receiving.

Overall, I wish the OP had indicated sexes.
posted by Netzapper at 6:51 PM on November 2, 2009

Just be prepared to answer why. Be honest. If they can't give you some time to feel more comfortable, they aren't worth it.
posted by Silvertree at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2009

Screw feelings. It's your body and the only one you get. If you are worried about STDs or babies, you need to man up (or woman up) and put your cards on the table. If your partner can't handle it, that's unfortunate but you need to move on as he/she is putting his sexual pleasure above your well being.
posted by chairface at 10:24 PM on November 2, 2009

I'm with the "it's your body" crowd. Also, if you felt rushed into unprotected sex and that's why you're not comfortable, it's possible that this guy is a jerk.

If that's not the problem, how about this? Tell your partner that having unprotected sex is distracting you from how awesome sex with him is and making it less awesome than it's usual awesome heights, and even though you you've both been tested, you want to slow down and use condoms again for a while, so you're not too distracted to have lots of awesome sex. Having some awesome safe sex with him right away might help convince him this is a good idea.

He's probably going to be bummed about this (although IMO if he's a good guy he'll work with it). Since you're asking him to do the extra work of dealing with that, be sure to do your own work and figure out what it was you were uncomfortable with and what your actual boundaries are.
posted by smartyboots at 12:27 AM on November 3, 2009

Yeah, man. "Hey, I thought I was ready for this, but it turns out I'm feeling weird about it. Is it cool with you if we go back to condoms?"

If you're with someone cool, they'll appreciate that you were honest about your worries. And the bestest relationships I've had are the ones where we felt okay with talking about our fears and our (even irrational - not that this one is) worries.
posted by lauranesson at 9:22 AM on November 3, 2009

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