Polyamory and Polyamorous Relationship Coaching FAQ: How Do You Handle Sexually Transmitted Infections in Open Relationships, Polyamorous Lifestyles and Poly Dating?
Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, Offers Coaching Tips for Open Relationships, Polyamorous Relationships, Poly Dating, and Ethical Non-Monogamy.
Whether you like it or not, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), need to be addressed in any kind of relationship, especially if you are considering polyamory, an open relationship or a polyamorous relationship. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. It is so important to be upfront with those you are going to be intimate with BEFORE you become intimate with them. By upfront I mean: be responsible, get tested, share results, offer full disclosure, and request the same from anyone (and everyone) you play with intimately and sexually. Yes, the conversation may be awkward, you may feel uncomfortable. And, I’m telling you, the sooner you have the conversation, the sooner you can relax in knowing what you need to know in order to make a choice that best serves you and the person or people you are with.
Let’s walk through a scenario:
Let’s say you’re new to polyamory, you’re on a couple of dating sites, and you’re actively meeting potential partners. You have gotten tested every 6 months. You have never had a test come back positive. As far as you’re concerned, you’re in the clear, right?
What many people do not know is that one of the most common STIs (Herpes Simplex Virus 2 – HSV2) is not a part of the standard STI panel offered at most clinics. You have to specifically ask your doctor for the HSV2 blood test. This is not common knowledge. Many people assume that the standard STI test covers every sexually transmitted infection. It does not. What this means is that there are a lot of people who think they are STI free, when they may actually have HSV2. I’m not sharing this to scare anyone. I’m sharing this because knowledge is power. The more we know about our health, the more empowered we can be in making choices that best serve ourselves and others. There have been quite a few recent articles written on HSV2. One of my favorites is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/healthcom/everything-you-think-you_b_8578708.html. This article busts eight big myths about the herpes infection. I highly encourage you to read it, and please share it with your polyamorous and non-polyamorous friends, your polyamorous lovers, and potential open relationship and polyamorous dates and playmates.
Back to our story:
Let’s say you’re due for your full panel of STI tests, and this time you request a blood test for HSV2, just to cover all of your bases. All test results come back negative, except for HSV2, which is positive. You’re stunned. You never had an outbreak before, and you’re confused as to when you got it, where, and from whom. You’ve just entered into the open relationship and polyamorous dating scene. You’ve had a few hot moments, and you were safe every time, so were your poly playmates.
You’re taken completely off guard with the news. You feel as if you have been branded as one of “those people”. You fear this is the end of the world or at least the end of your sex life. You’re not sure what to do. You have a date later that day. You’re really interested in this guy. He’s in an open relationship, he practices polyamory, and you know there is a possibility you could be intimate with him. What’s a girl to do? Based on what you’ve read, you know that there are a lot of people who have herpes that don’t even know it. You understand as you are diving into the world of polyamory, and with the likelihood of having more sexual partners, you may be at risk for getting STIs. You also know that practicing safe sex can minimize the risk of transferring the STI’s and that if you have HSV2 and take the recommended medication, the risk of transferring HSV2 is reduced even more.
You have all of this information in your head, and yet you feel stuck, scared, uncertain as to what to do with it. If you tell him, you risk having an unpleasant night. If you don’t tell him, you risk knowing that if he finds out he will feel cheated that when you had the opportunity to disclose all information, you lied. All roads seem to lead to an uncomfortable situation. And… the date is approaching. You have to make a choice. Will you tell him or not?
My advice: Tell him.
Yes, it may be uncomfortable, and it’s okay. It makes sense to feel the way you do. You just found out. You chose to get tested because you thought it was the right thing to do. And now that you have it, you feel compelled to share, all the while knowing you may lose the opportunity to be intimate with a guy you are very drawn to. Breathe. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of people out there who have HSV2, and more still that are educated in knowing that those who carry HSV2 are probably safer in how they play with others (because they know the precautions to take) than those who have no clue if they have HSV2 or not.
The best thing to do is to sit him down and share with him what you know. It’s okay to get real. It’s okay to be vulnerable. By all means, express your concerns and your desires. In the end, he will see you as an incredibly strong person, who is brave enough to stand up with integrity, and offer important information in order for him to choose what was best for him. When we offer information, we give others the opportunity to choose. When we withhold information, we limit other people’s ability to choose.
So please, regardless of what kind of relationship you are in (open relationship, polyamorous relationship, poly dating, monogamy, etc), get tested, share your results, offer full disclosure, and request the same.
If you need help with having these conversations, call me. I’m here to support you.
For more information about open relationship coaching and polyamory coaching services and to schedule a Free Exploratory Poly-Coach Session, contact Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, today.
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