How to Tell Your Partner You Have an STI

How to tell your partner about an STI

Most of us were never taught how to talk about sexual health openly. As a result, it's no wonder we struggle with having those tough conversations. However, if you have an STI (sexually transmitted infection), you should find a way to power through — even more so if you might have exposed your partner to it.


But no one says you have to go through that alone. We can help you prepare yourself and find the right words to tell your partner you have an STI.


What Is an STI?


An STI is an infection you get through sexual contact. Some people have an STI without any symptoms, while others experience only mild discomfort. However, this is not to say that STIs are not that big a deal. Some infections can increase the risk of infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and HIV if left untreated. Syphilis, gonorrhea, warts, genital herpes, and chlamydia are the most common STIs.



How Common Are STIs?


According to the recent CDC data, one in every five people had an STI on any given day in 2018. In Australia, 16% or about 4 million people reported having an STI at least once in their life. 


Read our article So, you've got Chlamydia?



Why Are STIs Difficult to Talk About?


There are a lot of misconceptions and stigma associated with STIs. For this reason, talking to your partner about the topic is not easy, even if it's the right thing to do. The major reason people hesitate to break the news is the fear of rejection. You may also feel ashamed or might not know that your condition is contagious.



Why You Need to Tell Your Partner


Simply put, their health is at risk, so they need to know what's going on. Telling your ex or current partner will help them catch the infection on time before it causes more serious problems. On the other hand, admitting you have an STI to your future partner will let them make an informed decision about their health.



How to Tell Your Partner: 6 Tips


After you've been tested positive and started treatment, you should plan a conversation with your partner. To help things go over smoothly, try the following tips.



Do the Research


First, you need to know what you are up against, not only for your partner but for yourself too. So, learn everything there is to know about your STI. Without a doubt, your partner will have many questions, and you should be prepared to answer them. Also, as you get a better grasp of the condition, your feelings of guilt and shame may ease up.



Pick the Right Tone


Approach the subject directly without being angry, irritated, or resentful. Choose a time when you will not be disturbed and a location where you can have a private talk with your partner without being overheard by others. If you're unsure how to handle it, practice it in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend first. It may seem odd, but rehearsing what you want to say can help you gather your thoughts and choose the right words.



Be Honest and Direct


It's better if your partner finds out from you than from other people. Also, there's no point in sugarcoating what you have to say. So, simply say something along the lines: "Before we have sex, I want to talk to you about STIs and protection because I have an STI."


After that, you can talk about what kind of STI you have and how it happened. You don't have to go into depth about your previous relationships. Simply show you are willing to talk and answer questions your partner might have.



Put Yourself In Their Shoes


When speaking with your long-term partner, try not to lay blame. A positive test result does not always indicate that someone cheated. Sometimes, STIs take a long time to turn up on a test, and many people do not experience any symptoms.



Don't Push Them to Make Any Decisions


After telling your partner about your condition, let them process the information. It's natural to want reassurance and acceptance soon after disclosing such sensitive information. But they probably need time to think about it. So, don't rush their decision about your relationship or sex.


Instead, say: "I know you'd appreciate some time to think about this." It demonstrates that you are self-assured and in control.



Prepare Yourself for Some Judgment


Conversations such as these can go either way because a lot of emotions are involved. For this reason, hope for the best but brace yourself for the worst. Your partner might judge you or walk away. So, you can say something like this to them, "I know it's a lot to take in and that you don't like it. It's all right. But I respect you enough to tell you the truth."


What If It Doesn't Go Over Well?


Blaming yourself is never a good answer. While shame might be your first reaction, try not to dwell too much on questions like, "How did this happen to me? Where did I get this? Where did I go wrong?" The thing with STIs is that you can never be sure when you got infected. For instance, it is possible you got exposed to herpes at a young age, but it stayed dormant for decades.


In any case, an STI is not the end of the world, and neither is breaking things off with your partner. Their strong negative reaction to your honesty is actually a big red flag. Instead, try to stay optimistic and don't take their response personally.



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