A Cheat Sheet for Talking About Safe Sex

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. Or actually, it's harder, because we often just don't know what to say to our partners. Here are the right words to use in awkward situations.

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You: So in your past relationships, how often did you use condoms?

Wait for his or her response.

Then your answer should be:

You: Well, in my past relationships, I always use condoms; I am pretty adamant about that. It's about safety.

"This approach helps set your expectations from the jump so this person understands how you roll. When it comes down to intimacy, then, there shouldn't be any issues," says Ross, who also notes, "Always bring your own condoms so that you can be prepared."

2. You have just tested positive for a curable STD. How do you talk to your partner about it and protect him or her?

This can be tricky. Ross suggests that the first step is coming to the table calm and not trying to place blame on each other. Remind your partner that both of you have had previous relationships, and since STDs are not always symptomatic, especially in men, one of you may have had this infection before getting together and just didn't know because you were not tested for it.

"Suggest that your partner get tested -- you can even go with him or her -- and then get treated," says Ross. It's important that both of you get treated, because if you have unprotected sex with  each other, you'll just continue passing the infection back and forth.

This would also be a good time to talk about the need to use condoms regularly, because while both of you may be cured, this doesn't mean anything if one of you is having unprotected sex with other partners. Ross warns, "If you are walking around assuming that you are in something monogamous and you are not, you are going to end up in some serious trouble."

3. You're a man who worries about performance issues with condoms and wants to find the least embarrassing way possible to resolve it.