This is a short video answering the question: “How do I negotiate condom use in a long-term relationship, especially when after having not used condoms for a long time?”

Reflection:

  • Identify your sexual needs and values and the behaviors that are in alignment with them.

  • Talk to your partner about their values and needs when it comes to their sexual health.

  • Recognize that everyone's beliefs and values are not the same.

Here are a few posts to check out:

See the transcript below:

​See the transcript below:

​​00:04 - Hello everyone and welcome back to another Q&A. This question this month comes in light of the frequent conversations I've been having and questions that I've been receiving around the recent overturn of the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that protected pregnant people's decision, choice, liberty, freedom to have an abortion. 

00:28 - And so the question is, "How do I negotiate condom use in a long-term relationship, especially after having not used condoms for a long time?"

00:38 - So first, I just wanted to validate this question. In my work as a sexuality educator over the years, this conversation is no stranger to me. There can be so much anxiety around using condoms due to the fear of the person’s response. Sometimes that response is just, "It makes me feel closer to you". Sometimes the response is, "It's uncomfortable for me". And sometimes the response is, "Why should we use condoms if we are monogamous, if we don't have any other partners?" So, some people may have the belief that you only have to use condoms if you are concerned about STI transmission. And so, wanting to use them after a period of not using them may feel like a red flag to the other person. Like, “Have you been cheating on me?” “Are you concerned that you have an STI?”

01:26 - And also sometimes the person may feel like it's not their responsibility. That they don’t have a lot of concern because they are not the person that can get pregnant. So it’s like, Oh, well, maybe we just run out and get a Plan B. So for them, it’s like the person who can become pregnant is responsible for taking care of it.

01:45 - Regardless of what their beliefs are, it's important to know them so that you can have a conversation and identify if they are in alignment with your own beliefs and concerns around your sexual health.

01:56 - So the first tip is to sit down and identify for yourself, What are my sexual health needs and values. What behaviors are in alignment of those needs and values? So if you are saying, It’s important for me to maintain sexual health by using condoms. Then your boundary is, I don’t have sex without condoms.

02:24 - Keeping in mind that your boundaries are always about you. What you’re going to do, how you’re to uphold or maintain your boundaries. You can’t force anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do. But we can say, Alright, well if that’s not important to you, then I don’t sleep with you.

02:43 - So figure out, What are my needs and what are the behaviors that align with those needs? It’s really important to work through this for yourself because one, just saying it out loud helps to affirm it as true for you. But when it’s time to have this conversation with your partners, potential partners, current partners, you will feel a lot more grounded and informed about where you’re coming from. And it helps to have that conversation more easily if they have things that they want to challenge, or question. Or if they have wrong information.

03:18 - Also, it helps you become more willing to open up this conversation with someone else by being curious. I wonder what they believe. I’m feeling really sure about myself and maybe you’ve found new information and facts that help you feel more affirmed in your choice. And so maybe you’re feeling a lot more curious to hear, What does my partner have to say about this?

03:40 - Which leads into number two. Talking to your partner about what their values and news are when it comes to their sexual health. Some people don’t think about this conversation at all, so they may feel caught off guard. So making sure that you are having space to have this conversation before sex is about to begin. Even letting your partner know that I’m looking into options, I’m wanting to learn more about my sexual health and taking more control over it. I would like to have a conversation with you later. So that way they know, Maybe I need to be thinking about it too so that way when we come together, we can have this conversation. 

04:23 - Three is, for yourself to just recognize, or consider that everyone’s beliefs and values are not the same. So, it’s a possibility that we may not be in alignment when it comes to what we value, our sexual health, and the practice that feels in alignment with that. So just kind of put that out there, What if my partner says, “I don’t want to use condoms.” What happens?

04:57 - Also, I think it’s really important that when you are looking at satisfying sexual experiences that you don’t just funnel it down to in the moment satisfaction. I like to introduce people to considering before, during, and after. What happens before we have sex that feels satisfying, helps me feel safe, that lets me know we’re on the same page, that affirms for me that I can trust this person, having conversations about what we’re into, what we’re not into, talking about our sexual health, beliefs, and boundaries.

05:35 - In the moment, if that is, I was able to advocate for a new position, if I was in pain I was able to stop, this person didn’t coerce me. If orgasm or climax is on the goal and that was achieved, that may be part of it as well.

05:48 - Afterwards, maybe it is, I like to be able to talk to the person about what that experience was like for the both of us. Getting tested for STIs or pregnancy and it coming back negative. So all of these things contribute to a satisfying sexual experience. And when you break it down to look at this timeline it can help you to say, Wow, there are definitely more steps to this that make me feel like I am prioritizing my sexual health by then engaging in specific sexual health behaviors that bring you closer that goal.

06:28 - And another thing to be prepared for, because this comes up a lot, is people not wanting to use condoms due to the way that it feels. Feeling like they’re uncomfortable, that it decreases sensitivity. So being able to say, Yea, let’s try different types of condoms, are we using lube, let’s use more lube.

06:49 - Pro tip: Take just one drop of lube and put it in the tip of the condom. Just one drop, you don’t want to put too much, in risk of it slipping off. And also make sure that it’s not an oil based lube because latex and oil are not compatible and it will break down the integrity of the condom. Causing it to be permeable and break down, and then being ineffective. So just be mindful of that, you want to use a silicone-based lube or water-based lube. No oil with latex.

07:24 - But yea, so exploring with different types of condoms. Exploring sizes for fit and comfort. In addition to, maybe you try something that’s ribbed. So explore with that as well.

07:38 - And if they are talking about feeling some discomfort or irritation, talk with them about the different types of condoms that they’ve used, if they’ve seen any patterns, maybe they have a latex allergy. If so, there are polyurethane, lambskin, and plastic condoms. And that’s for external condoms, so that’s the one that goes on the penis. And there are also internal condoms that go inside the vagina or the anus. And those are made out of polyurethane as well.

08:10 - So if there are any irritations, try different things. And sometimes that irritation may be caused by lack of lubrication. So again, trying to put a drop in the tip, putting a little on the shaft, putting some on the vulva and anus can be helpful. And just see, does that bring more pleasure and less discomfort.

08:35 - I also recommend that you check out the “Guide to Sexual Self-Care” because in it I do talk about contraceptives, sexual confidence, and prioritizing sexual health in ways that help you feel affirmed and supported.

08:48 - Let me know what you think and of course, take care and peace.