Today I went in for my 6 month STD tests. My doctor asked if I worried that I had been exposed to something. I told him “no, I swing.” That was as good an explanation as any and he accepted it without batting an eye.
I have found the variety of people’s comfort levels when it comes to sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and discussions to be fascinating in its variety.
I had never really thought about it much before becoming non-monogamous. When we first opened our marriage, Hubby and I had agreed that we would play safely and “not bring anything home.” He and I began to use condoms on the infrequent occasions that we had sex together and agreed to do STD panels once a year.
Before too long, we each entered into relationships where we were (for the most part) sexually monogamous. It seemed reasonable to allow fluid bonding with our partners providing that they used protection with any other relations.
But even in non-monogamy things happen and people are not always responsible. My (ex) long term relationship began to date another woman. To me it was not a big deal, as I am poly. Unfortunately, she was not. This caused a great deal of tension between us, as I was being moved to the “bit on the side.”
The last blow to the relationship came when I found out that he had not had the STD conversation nor used a condom when their relationship became physical. Perhaps I should have stopped fucking him back when my brain told me the relationship was over, but I was in denial; after all they say love is blind.
Since he and I were fluid bonded, I asked him to please talk to her about her STD status. Though I thought this was a reasonable request, he did not. He continued to put it off until my questioning him about it caused him to blow up. How dare I not trust his judgment in such matters?! Yeah, trust the man who thinks with his uncovered dick.
So off to the ob-gyn I went for a full screening. Unfortunately, she said it looked like I had a bacterial infection, probably Chlamydia. Since it wasn’t there 6 months previously, I was to inform my partner(s) that they had been exposed. I suppose I could have waited the week that it took to get results back (though she was already treating me as if it was Chlamydia), but I figured it would be better safe than sorry.
Technically, I only should inform anyone I had had sex with, which was a small enough list: Hubby, an old ex and the recent ex-ltr. But I was on good terms with everyone in my poly web so I sent an email to all of them: the aforementioned guys as well as Hubby’s other wife, his secondary girlfriend and her husband.
It was interesting that everyone was understanding and supportive, except the ex-ltr who flipped out and accused me of fooling around. That was the absolute last straw; what was left of our two year friendship was gone.
Luckily, it turned out to be a simple bacterial infection, not sexually transmitted or transmittable. But the damage was done. The fear of how easy it would be to catch and spread an STD was realized.
Months later, I dated a man who wanted to be fluid bonded with me. It took a bit of persuading since he was also fluid bonded with his wife, but he countered my arguments and I went down that road for what would become the very last time.
Things went well until his wife was ready to find another partner. Even though she insisted on test results from her future partner for her peace of mind, she was not interested in using condoms. My boyfriend and his wife did not bother to discuss my feelings about this as much as just inform me of their decision.
I told him that we were going back to using barriers because I was not about to trust that many people with my health. He didn’t seem to understand my point of view and agreed to discuss it further. He seemed to see test results as infallible and barrier use as an inconvenience.
In the meantime, I had met someone that I also wanted to date. My boyfriend said that he was uncomfortable with me having sexual relations with someone else. I tried to reassure him that the new gentleman was up to date on tests and we would use barriers. But this was not good enough for his wife’s comfort. She wanted hard copies of my new friend’s test results, as well as, hard copies of test results from all of his recent partners. When I refused this demand as unreasonable, the relationship crumbled.
Now days things seem a bit easier. Perhaps this is due to Guy being very pragmatic. At first I thought his insistence on testing every 6 months as well as using oral barriers with new play partners was a bit much. But now I take comfort in it and follow his lead. New playmates must have current STD tests (preferably within the last 6 months) and barriers must be used for all oral, anal and vaginal sex. It is only after a long term trusting relationship has developed that we agree to lower the oral barriers; though neither one of us wants full fluid bonding.
Recently I started dating again. One gentleman has a swinging background, but is now single. We met at a play party – even played a bit after discussing STD status. When I mentioned to Guy that I wanted to see this new man outside of the party environment, we decided to ask that he get updated tests. So when we talked about setting up a first date, I made the request that he update his tests before we play again. Without argument or complaint he made a doctor’s appointment. I will be curious how he reacts when I ask for oral barriers for the time being. But I don’t see it as being much of a problem. He seems very reasonable. Our next date should be fun.
I have also started to see a poly couple. She seems to have a lot of experience with testing and barriers. Her tests were up to date. When I told her I would prefer fluid barriers, she suggested Saran Wrap. And she even said that she would get some latex gloves to keep at their place. Her partner, on the other hand, seemed to have issues with every one of my requests. He hadn’t been tested in three years and does not seem to be in a hurry to get an up to date screening. He says he should be fine as he has only been with his current partner and one other woman (with whom he used a condom for intercourse). He seemed to find the idea of a blowjob with a condom on very distressing. And commented on how the latex gloves belonged in a clinical examination. He even asked if I would blow him with a condom on before getting tests done. This attitude does not bode well for the relationship. I have few boundaries, but safest sex (the agreements between me and Hubby and me and Guy) is one of them that I will not cross.
Testing for STDs is not difficult: a blood test, a urine sample, and a few cervical scrapings. Playing safe (using barriers) is not difficult. But for some strange reason, people seem to have issues with communication. Though in my opinion, it is far easier to communicate up front than it is to deal with possible consequences of catching something.