Firstly, let me congratulate you on getting back on the bandwagon after 4 years. I feel as though in the new digital age of dating and global circumstances even 4 years is a long time. Things change so quickly!
You're right in wanting to be safe and healthy; pleasure is fleeting but herpes is for life. Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in recent years, especially among older adults. Don't assume that you're immune, regardless of your age.
Talk about STIs before having sex and use condoms. Condom usage and a willingness to get tested show respect and concern for a partner’s well-being. Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t respect your requests.
If I'm going to date someone new, I prefer an early-on approach to the dialogue. Topics like these only get more difficult as time passes. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time – yours or mine – so I’d rather know ASAP if my pesky infection (sometimes with a strong negative stigma) is going to be an issue. Also, I feel that honesty and vulnerability sets a certain tone for healthy communication.
These 'tough conversations' don't have to be so serious! There's no need for a powerpoint presentation as if you're presenting your sexual version of a Covid-19 safety plan.
Some choose to 'interrogate' from a place of caution and fear: fear of STI's, fear of being misled, lack of trust etc while others choose to 'discover' from a place of curiosity, understanding and compassion. The latter will provide better results every time!
Now in an ideal world, you'll meet someone who you're deeply attracted and connected to and who also feels as strongly as you do about honest and open sexual communication. So much so that they bring it up with you over a nice glass of wine and you both talk and laugh for the rest of the night - culminating in a night of passionately safe lovemaking.
In reality, not everyone has the confidence and self assurance to lead the way.
So take control and be the one to bring it up. Share your wants and desires in the hope it will be accepted without judgement; ideally in person, but otherwise on a video call or the phone.
Start with your partner to get the ball rolling. What do they like? What do they need? It's amazing how many people will have never been asked this by someone in a position to give them what they want and need. Just remember that this has to go both ways. I like to use this as a personality test to even see if I want to pursue anything further.
If they don't ask you what you want and need in return, then they may be self involved.
What’s your reason for having sex? Is it just for pleasure or are you looking for more connection? Sometimes we think that having sex is an indicator of deeper commitment from a partner. That’s not always the case. So, ask yourself - and them - what having sex means for the two of you.
Talk about mutual expectations. Conversation helps you establish a level of trust and intimacy. If talking about sex feels too awkward maybe you’re not ready to actually have sex!
As with most things in life, talking about sex becomes easier with confidence; both sexual confidence and self confidence.
Competence breeds confidence.
Get out there and put it out there. Some will run for the hills at the first sign of a difficult conversation, but others will be attracted to your confidence and strength.
Be brave, and be vulnerable.
Much love and good vibes,
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