How Do I Talk About STDs With a Potential Partner? | Ask the Rev. | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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How Do I Talk About STDs With a Potential Partner?

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ID 34422300 © PHILL BURROWS | DREAMSTIME.COM

Dear Reverend,

I have been out of the dating pool for quite a while, so when I recently put a toe back in the water, I was frozen out! I am concerned about sexually transmitted diseases, so I brought up the subject before things became too intimate — it's not the kind of thing I'd bring up in bed. The response was less than I'd hoped for — was I accusing her of being a tramp?

How does one discuss this subject nowadays? Although some STDs are easily treated, others are not. It seems to me worth discussing the risks, especially as we're all sensitized to infectious diseases in the COVID-19 era. Is there a place to get tested for them? Forget about asking a primary care doc — most of us don't even have one.

Bug in the Rug (male, 63)

Dear Bug in the Rug,

Inquiring about whether a potential paramour has a communicable disease has never been easy, but the question should come as no surprise. Timing is everything, and perhaps yours was off. Had you just met? Were you at dinner? It's possible your date felt that you weren't intimate enough to make the inquiry.

So when is the right time to pop the question? I'd say sometime after a little smooching but before any naughty bits get involved. And here's a tip: Rather than asking your date point-blank about her STD status, why not offer up yours first? It's easier to discuss an awkward topic when someone breaks the seal.

If you don't have a primary care physician, Planned Parenthood is a great place to go. Among many other services (and free condoms!), it offers STD testing and treatment. If you don't have insurance, you may qualify for a sliding-scale fee or another special program. You could even go together with a new partner to get tested — just maybe not on the first date.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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