“Make it about the ‘we’ and not the ‘I’,” says Dr. Rachel Ross, a medical practitioner in Gary, Ind., and clinically trained sexologist. Often when women say to their partners, “I want you to get tested,” it’s misconstrued as an accusation about illness or infidelity. “If it’s ‘you, you, you’ or ‘I, I, I,’ no one goes for it, and they end up being offended,” adds Ross.
Instead, present your desire to get tested as a way to show that you both care enough about each other to learn the truth about your health, and you want all the cards on the clichéd table. Ross suggests framing the idea of getting tested as an attempt to renew, reinforce and recommit to your relationship.
3. Make it simple.
You know he’s scared, even if he will never say so. Help take the pressure off by telling him about the procedure and how much of a nonevent it was when you got tested — i.e., it was in and out and not a lot of fuss.
Ask him if he’ll go if you take care of all of the legwork: finding a testing center or making the appointment. Getting rid of the perceived hassle may inspire him to just go and get it done with.
Though it may seem like a good idea, avoid making a surprise, last-minute appointment for him and then springing it on him in the middle of your day together. He will likely find it insulting or become resentful that you are trying to control him or insinuate that he’s been unfaithful.
4. Insist on condoms.
If you’re in a long-term monogamous relationship, chances are you don’t use condoms regularly or at all. But if you can’t be sure about your health, it’s time to bring back the latex, every time. “The partner usually gets over themselves after that,” says Ross.
Tartt suggests that women take it to the extreme and “close up shop” — i.e., refuse to have sex. “Talk is cheap, and men respond to touch or lack thereof,” says Tartt. “Do not give him an ultimatum, but choose to be abstinent until he is tested.”
Once he is, reward him for (finally) being responsible.
5. End the relationship.
If you’ve exhausted every effort and still your partner won’t get tested, you have to recognize the bottom line: For whatever reason, he is choosing to put your health and his in danger. One of the horrible choices that some women make in the name of maintaining a relationship is continuing to stay with a partner who refuses to get tested. Health is more important than having a man — yes, including your husband — especially when he has the potential to harm you.
Good luck, and be safe!
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.