Talking about safer sex: The elevator pitch


August 29, 2012 by aggiesez

Awkward conversations can be the best and most important ones to have. They make good idiot filters.

Everyone who’s not living under a rock knows that you’re supposed to have safer sex — which means taking steps to minimize your risk of pregnancy and STD transmission. For most people this boils down to “men should wear a condom during vaginal or anal intercourse.”

Safer sex can also mean sticking to sexual activities that carry a relatively lower risk of infection, such as manual or oral sex — which can be completely awesome, hot, and fulfilling.

Some people at least pay lip service to the idea of using barriers for oral sex, or for penetration that involves fingers — but in my experience most sexually active people don’t actually take those measures.

Of course, the best safer sex measure is talking about it — clearly, calmly and responsibly. To volunteer information and to ask questions before anyone gets naked.

THIS is the big hurdle for most people. Because in our culture, discussing safer sex just isn’t viewed as hot. In fact, it can seem like an unromantic buzzkill, or a red flag, or a signal of distrust. It feels embarrassing, and it presents a real risk of rejection just when you’re seeking connection.

Get over it. Learn to get comfortable with discussing safer sex, and sex in general, with your current or prospective sex partners. You’ll feel better about it. Whether you’re monogamous or open, talking about safer sex is a key skill for having any adult relationship. You don’t get to wear your “I’m a grownup” badge unless you know how to do it, and are willing to do it.

The catch is that in our society we don’t see many models of people having these conversations in a positive way and at the right time. The myth is that hot sex is supposed to be about getting “swept away” by passion or lust, pretending that your brain gets deactivated once your hormones or emotions kick in.

That’s bullshit. Even worse, it’s chickenshit.

Need a good example? Sex educator Reid Mihalko recently posted his two-minute safer sex elevator speech — which does not necessarily involve having sex in elevators (although it might). Here’s the outline of what he covers with a prospective new sex partner. He’s practiced this conversation and has it down pat, the way startups are trained to pitch venture capitalists.

  1. When were you last tested for STDs, what did you get tested for, and what was the status of those tests?
  2. What is your current relationship status and sexual orientation, and what, if any, relationship agreements do you have that the other person should know about?
  3. What are your Safer Sex Protocols and needs?
  4. One or two things that you know you like sexually (or might want to do with this person).
  5. One thing you know you don’t like sexually (or that you aren’t up for today).
  6. Optional: Quick rundown of any risky sexual things you’ve done since you were last tested.
  7. Last step: Then ask the other person, “And how about you?” and listen to what they say and how they say it…

I’m fairly comfortable with discussing safer sex already, but I feel like I need to be clearer about it. So I’m going to give Reid’s approach a try, now that I’m meeting new men I might want to date and/or have sex with. So I’ll put together my own safer sex elevator speech and get it down pat. I think I’ll reverse the order of items 1 and 2, but other than that I’ll give it a whirl and see how it goes.

And I’ll make sure I take the initiative to start this conversation, once it gets to the point that we’re kissing or cuddling and I feel like I might want to have sex with someone. I probably wouldn’t break off a kiss to launch into it, but I’m thinking sometime between the first or second time we make out but before the next time the kissing starts, that would be a good time. Just introduce it like any other conversation topic. Don’t act like it’s a big deal. Because it isn’t — it’s normal. Or at least it should be.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What are the benefits? Reid nails it:

If you scare a potential sexy-time prospect away by initiating a conversation on safer sex needs, that just means they’re not playing at your level and they did you a favor. You want to be knockin’ boots with the awesome people who are playing at your level.

…After you share your two-minute Safer Sex Elevator Speech with someone, you get a load of information about that person’s Emotional I.Q. and Sexual Self-awareness when you ask them, “And how about you?” What they say in the next two minutes will tell you volumes about how well they know their likes and dislikes sexually, how well they can use their words and speak up about sex, and how you might want to adjust your safer sex protocols for maximum peace of mind and pleasure!

…By initiating the safer sex conversation, you’ve created the perfect assessment opportunity to figure out where others are in their sexual and relationship development.

One thought on “Talking about safer sex: The elevator pitch

  1. emanixx says:

    Sounds like a decent conversation to have with a new partner I was thinking of seeing regularly, but I think if I was just engaging in a casual somethingorother I’d be more likely to have a conversation along the lines of ‘what are you wanting to do with me *today*?’ and then specify safety boundaries related to those particular activities. It seems like overkill to me to ask when someone was last tested for fluid borne bugs if I’m just going to be doing say, spanking and mutual masturbation with them, but not overkill to ask if either of us ought to wear gloves.

    On the flip side of that, if you’re going to be doing things with someone that either of you does test results for, then the ‘anything risky done since last being tested’ bit of that conversation is absolutely not optional, in my view, but utterly essential. That’s a part of informed consent just as much as the results themselves, since it gives an idea of how much uncertainty there is in those results. Someone got tested a year ago, but who’s been celibate or had no new partners and no new kinds of activity since, is a very different risk factor to someone who only got tested last month but has been barebacking in darkroom orgies every other night over the intervening period!

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