Learning that you have contracted a sexually transmitted infection is difficult. Realizing that you must tell your partner can make an emotionally charged situation even tougher. Experts say that picking the right time and place and bringing medical facts to the conversation can ease the awkward moment. Telling your partner before you have sex for the first time allows them to make a decision about what they want.
Let them decide.
Tell your partner before—not after—you have sex. Giving them a choice is only fair. Give your partner the physical and emotional space to think about what sex would mean to them and decide what they’d like to do. Wouldn’t you want your partner to inform you so that you can make the decision? Having an sexually transmitted disease is nothing to be ashamed of, but hiding the truth is. These diseases are widespread, and about one in two people contract an STD by the time they reach age 25, according to the American Sexual Health Association.
Seek out a space that feels comfortable and private and not sexually charged. You’re likely to feel embarrassed about disclosing intimate information, so hold the talk in an environment where you feel safe talking about your sexual health. You’ll probably find that safe zone at home in your living room or over the kitchen table. Avoid a bar where you might be interrupted and where you might be tempted to ease tensions by drinking. Stay sober, stay clothed and stay out of the bedroom.
Text or email if you must.
If you can’t deal with a face-to-face, try to call or text your partner with the news. Dodging the in-person conversation is not recommended by experts, but any communication is better that shutting your partner out. Stay calm and limit the news to medical facts. Staying away from personal details can make it easier to tell your significant other. Talking about your STI status is not easy, so go easy on yourself if you get emotional.
Avoid giving out TMI.
You don’t have to share any information that makes you uncomfortable. Your partner will have questions, and it’s a good idea to be ready with facts on symptoms and treatments. Learning that your partner has an STI can be emotional, and time may be needed to process the news. But you don’t owe your SO details about how you became infected, and you don’t have to reveal who else knows.
Don’t assume infidelity.
Don’t let the appearance of symptoms cast doubt on fidelity in your exclusive relationship. Both you and your partner should be aware that STI symptoms may take months or years to emerge. The infection may have occurred long before you met your partner.
Give your partner time.
Recognize the news may be hard to hear, and don’t pressure your partner for immediate acceptance. Give them time to consider and ask questions after you’ve provided some resources that have helped you.
Remember you are worthy of love.
Some people can’t handle learning that their partner has a STI. Rejection is tough to face, but remember that they are reacting out of fear if they break off the relationship. They are not the one for you. You need someone who recognizes your value and accepts your STI status.