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In an Existing Relationship

In an Existing Relationship

You may find this easy because you know each other, or you may encounter some problems in talking about past sexual experiences and the need to change habits. It is all too easy for anger or embarrassment to distract couples from the intended discussion.

Allow your partner the time to express how they feel, ask questions and respond.

Sometimes it seems easier to simply avoid talking about sex even with someone we know well. We don't want to offend them or seem unsure, ignorant or pushy or imply that we have a sexual problem. It is hard to find words that don't sound too rude, or clinical, but explain what you are trying to say. Try to find words which are acceptable to you both, and be honest about any words or expressions which offend or upset you, since hearing them may put you off discussing safer sex with your partner.

When you begin to look closely at your relationship, you may discover you have some bad feelings from the past. It may help to feel that in the future you are going to deal with things when they occur and that each of you will say what you need to say even if you do not need to say it.

Choose your time to talk. Try to find a time when you can be free from interruptions, when you are relaxed and not tired or irritable. It may help if this is not just before, during or after sex, because your emotions are not usually under control at these times. It can help to have a clear head without too many drinks on board.

You should be prepared to say things which are difficult to say, and to hear things form your partner without becoming angry or resentful. Agree with your partner that it may not be easy at first but that you will try to help each other. Listen and accept what you both have to say without blaming. If you can work together you will be more successful -- "What are we going to do?" is better than "What are you going to do about it?"

Try to look at all the sexual possibilities, and then choose whatever is safe and acceptable to you both. Having a safer sexual relationship is your way of taking care of yourself and showing how much you trust and respect each other.

In a New Relationship

Satisfying sex that makes both partners feel good takes a special kind of friendship. Take time to get to know your new partner and to find out what they feel and need. As your relationship develops you may discover that it is not just about sex.

When you are ready to talk about safer sex you can prepare yourself so that you feel more confident and in control.

Telling is difficult. If there is someone you can talk to about the worries you have and how you might deal with the possibility of an argument or rejection their support may be helpful. If you are on your own then try writing down your plan, rehearsing possible approaches, imagining how each of you might react to things that could be said.

Think About:
  • What you want to say and why you want to say it.
  • What worries you most about other people knowing about HIV.
  • What is the best thing that could happen and what is the worst.
  • How might you handle the situation and what might help.
  • What will happen if you decided not to tell at all and how will you feel about this.

It may be easier to mention safer sex before you are "turned on" -- you can still back away without too much embarrassment. Listen carefully and check that the other person has understood your meaning. Most people respond very well to someone who is really listening and interested in them.

If things do not work out as you hoped they would...
  • Is this still a relationship worth working on even if it is not a sexual one.
  • How would you deal with a similar situation again -- people do react differently.
  • Being on your own does not mean being sexless -- you may still have your thoughts and dreams.
  • Sexual relationships take time and energy which you might choose to put into other relationships or other physical or mental activities.

Remember that many people with HIV have formed new relationships despite the difficulties.


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