If this has happened to you, you're definitely not alone. According to a new study released today by Trojan, most people between the ages of 18-34 stop using condoms with a repeat partner by month two. The problem is, only about half of those people said they had a discussion about this first, and just 21 percent said that they talked to their partner about STD testing before they ditched them.
The study looked at 1000 heterosexual people who were either single or in a "new relationship" under two years and were not trying to become pregnant. Even though 80 percent of respondents said condom usage was important to them, a whopping 41 percent didn't use one the last time they had sex.So what's going on here? We're all smart adults and we know that STDs are things that exist. But for many people in a new relationship—especially one that's transitioning from a hookup to something more—forgoing condoms can almost be like an unspoken act of exclusivity and seriousness. Oh, you don't think we need condoms anymore? Yeah, me neither.
The problem is, deciding to have sex without a condom should not be an unspoken act of anything under any circumstances. According to science, STDs aren't swayed by trust and warm, fuzzy feelings."We must be careful not to mistake comfort with someone for safety," says relationship expert Matthew Hussey, author of Get the Guy and matchmaker on NBC's Ready for Love. That said, we know this is a tricky situation and it's so much easier to just leave that conversation in the closed drawer with the condom. But for the sake of your sexual health, read on for Hussey's tips on how to broach the topic and take charge of your sexuality:
Set Your Own Standard
"You have to know what you're all about before you have that conversation with someone else," says Hussey. "Otherwise, you're far too apt to be persuaded in their direction instead of being steadfast in your beliefs." Everyone's standards will be different, but Hussey recommends a golden rule for singles: Condoms until you've defined exclusivity and gotten tested together. "A test result is only as good as the last time you had sex," says Hussey. "Saying, 'Oh, I got tested recently,' tells me nothing."
The main problem with this is that many people—both men and women—may take this rule as a lack of trust. Again, Hussey warns not to mistake that familiarity and comfort you feel in the beginning stages of a relationship with actual medical test results. You may be falling in love with this person, and they may think they're totally clean, but that shouldn't always be the end of the conversation. "Trust in this situation is a complete non sequitur."
Don't Have the Conversation When You Want to Have Sex
You're naked and he asks if you really still need to use a condom. The least sexy thing you can do in this situation is have the safe sex conversation. So we're giving you permission skip it. "The appropriate response here is, 'Look, I feel much more comfortable using one. It's not about you, and I'm not calling you into question," says Hussey. He stresses making this about you—rather than your partner—so you don't make them feel like you don't trust them (because again, that's not the point).
Then say, "We can definitely talk about this later, but right now I really want to have sex with you, so let's just use a condom and talk about it another time." Hot, right? The catch is, you really do need to bring it up later. At this point, have an honest discussion about where you both stand. If you're not sure you're ready to go without, then explain that this is just your standard and what you feel most comfortable with, and that it has nothing to do with them.
If you're open to ditching condoms and neither of you are sleeping with anyone else, have the discussion about going to get tested together. "It can actually be a really unifying experience to go do it as a couple," says Hussey. Your motivation? Awesome condom-free sex!
Make Condoms a Great Part of Your Sex Life…Until They're Not
There's no reason that safe sex needs to be reminiscent of seventh grade health class. Hussey suggests telling the guy you're with that it would really turn you on to put a condom on him, and ask if he could teach you. That's sexy because it lets him be the guide and then let's you take control in the future, says Hussey.
And never be afraid to stock your own nightstand with condoms. Forget the notion that men might find you promiscuous if you have your own rubbers. If you're worried about appearances, maybe you don't carry them around in your clutch, says Hussey, but "if you're a sexually active person, why wouldn't you always have condoms in your bedside table?" he asks.
The fact is, when you're in a new relationship—when everything seems great and sexy and fun—you're actually even more likely to toss safety out the window than you are on a one night stand, says Hussey. So take the temptation out of the equation and just be prepared and steadfast in your beliefs. "It will make you a hell of a lot more attractive," says Hussey. "What's sexier than a woman who has high self-respect?"