Samantha Jones meets a strapping blonde at a bar; Samantha Jones wants to strap onto the strapping blonde and ride in his leather swing; Samantha Jones is shut down because the strapping blonde who is a slut just so happens to be a careful slut who doesn’t have sex with anyone who hasn’t been tested.
Ultimately, Sam does get her blonde and the scene ends with her hollering in ecstasy while swinging up and down and up and down. But not before she faints in the doctors office when escorted to that “little room.”
And how scary that “little room” is.
Fear. One of the many reasons why partners fail to discuss STD testing and/or the results of such tests. We also shy away from this topic because of shame. We don’t feel good about ourselves when we know there’s something wrong. Most of the time, we feel dirty, tainted. And so we rather not know to avoid the guilt, the what ifs, and “the talk” with our significant other. Another common justification is trust. We believe that our boyfriend has been tested and is as squeaky clean as he claims. I have also believed in words. He’s my boyfriend, I rationalized. He wouldn’t lie to me about something so important.
As I got older, I realized I was playing a dangerous game and promised to be smarter. Here’s how to break through the oh-so-terrifying ice and talk to your partner about getting tested:
- Make it clear to your partner that your health is important to you. It has nothing to do with mistrust and everything to do with the positive progression of your relationship and the love that you have for yourself and for him.
- Learn the facts of HIV and STD testing before you and your partner go to your doctor or a free clinic. For a long time I assumed I was being tested for all STD’s when I spread my legs and put my ankles into stirrups. That is incorrect, ladies! When we get our annual pap smear, we are only tested for cancer cells and STD’s if we request to be tested. The STD’s that can be tested through a pap smear are Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Others like Herpes 1, Herpes 2, Hepatitis, Syphilis, and HIV are only done through blood work.
- Find a clinic. If you do not have a primary doctor and live in NYC, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers free STD testing all over New York City and other boroughs.
- Have a discussion about the possible results. Ask yourself and your partner the following questions: what will it mean for your sexual relationship if an STD or HIV test is positive? How do you work through it? What steps will you take in terms of protection? Lastly, no matter what the results, reassure your partner you will work though it and make these decisions together.
- Share your results. And by sharing I mean save that piece of paper that was mailed or given to you by your physician. You may also get a phone call with the results. No matter how the news is delivered, make sure you both have proof.
Bottomline, talking to your partner about getting tested comes down to the way you and your partner communicate. My boyfriend and I are both very blunt so there was no awkwardness when we decided to get tested. We also thought it was important to use condoms. Everyone should no matter who they are sleeping with. Once the results are in you can continue working on the relationship or bow out if that’s what you choose to do. Just remember to enter that “little room” every 6 months. It may mean the difference between being ill or squealing on a swing with delight.