Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dacia's Response

Dacia from over at Waking Vixen (Not Walking, for readers who might be less detail oriented) was kind enough to repond to my open letter after she finished up some things she needed to attend to. Let me just say thanks to her for doing it, it means a lot to me.

She brings up some interesting points that I have been pondering since I read her email earlier this morning. I am mulling them over and formulating a response. Not so much a response to her as much just a response for me to put my ideas on the topic out there.

So, without further adieu, Dacia's response to my open letter:

I'm not a huge fan of unsolicited advice in blog comments, so though I've had some thoughts about your relationship with N I haven't commented. But since you're asking, I'm telling!

The way I conceptualize safer sex is pretty expansive – to be able to practice safer sex, I believe that one has to gather information, process it, do an inventory of his or her personal feelings about and desire for various sex acts, and make decisions about safer sex practices based on all of this. Safer sex is about physical and emotional well-being.

That said, I know your question is about how to bring up a difficult topic with a maybe-kinda-sorta lover, but I think there's something else you need to pay attention to first: yourself. Towards the end of your letter, you say: I love this girl deeply and care for her more than I care for myself. That's a problem, because between this phrase, the situation of the coming sleep over, and other posts I've read on your blog, you are basically letting her determine the relationship and waiting for her to green light the re-birth of a sexual relationship. I'm not going to give you direct, concrete advice on what you should do with this problem, but I think you should give this some thought: how can you be a fully autonomous individual whose decisions about the relationship are just as weighty as hers?

That said, I do think you've taken a strong step towards autonomy by deciding that you would like to have safer sex. You might tell her that in your down time, you've been thinking a lot about sex – and even make a joke that its not just the dirty stuff, but everything else too, and that you've been reevaluating your values and would like to get in the habit of practicing safer sex. You could also say that your doctor recommended testing for yourself and any partners – as you are of the age range most frequently infected with STIs. Ask if her doctor has ever said this to her, offer to get tested together. These are just some examples of approaches, but what I'm trying to steer you towards is that you should own the decision, show and tell her that it is about you and your concern for yourself (and her as a result) and not that you think she's a dirty slut. All told, it is possible that you will alienate – but if you are set having safer sex, you should pursue that, and she should respect that this is not an issue you want to compromise on.

As far as the condom hurting her goes – while it's rare, some people are allergic to latex in condoms. You could try polyurethane male condoms (Avanti is a good brand) or female condoms – the material is a bit more expensive but they conduct heat really well. It's more likely that she is having a reaction to lubrication issues, either not enough (which can cause condoms to break) or the lube on the condoms themselves. Most pre-lubed condoms have lubed that is made with glycerin, which is longer-lasting but can cause yeast infections in women. Although they've fallen out of favor, there are still condoms with Nonoxynl-9 (a spermicide) on the market – these cause vaginal irritation in most women.

By the way, this is a conversation best NOT had in bed when things are getting steamy, because then it will blow up for sure. You'll get flustered, you'll say something silly: it will be bad. Have the talk in a non-sexual situation.

Let me know if you have further questions/concerns.

So there you have it, some hard hitting points as well as what I consider some sound advice. I'm out now, but I'll be back with a formulated response as well as a juicy story that relates to the whole situation.

Mood: Blah!
Music: Millencolin


Blogger Dacia said...

p.s. - you still have me in your sidebar as "walking" - I'm too lazy for walking and can only manage waking!

9:19 AM  
Blogger Autumn said...

If I may add my 2 cents?

I'll try to give you my percpective as a woman hearing this from the man in my life in your situation.

First of all, I would love to hear that he cares for me deeply, with lots of touching and hugging to follow.
Then perhaps you can bring up the fact that you've been reading alot about STDs lately and ask her if she knew that lots of people don't even know they have one. Along with that... lots of people don't get the proper tests and though they say they've been tested, if they didn't get the proper test and tell the doctor specifically which STD to check for... the might not have been tested for the most commons ones... like herpes, hpv, etc...

Tell her that the men she slept with may have slept with a woman who was infected, by her last lover, and on and on, and none of those people might be aware they are infected and are infecting others and that if would be the benefit of HERS (your g/fs) to get tested.

And then this followed by more cuddling. :)

11:08 AM  
Blogger Librarian Babe said...

Bravo for working this out before talking to her. Safer sex is vitally important. Stick to your guns as your health is at stake. I agree with Dacia and Autumn's advice. Since so many people who have sti's dont know it, it's really important to get tested regularly if you're not in a monogamous relationship, or even if simply your partner isn't monogamous with you.

I want to clarify something you said however, or rather change how you phrased it as it rubbed my sex educatin' mind the wrong way:
"I think some of her more recent partners have been questionable with regards to their cleanliness."

Cleanliness has NOTHING to do with one's sti status. I'm a squeaky clean woman with herpes. I caught it from someone who showered daily. Please don't feed into the idea that having an sti has to do with being "dirty." It's offensive to those of us who have caught one who have good hygiene, and it gives the mistaken impression that being clean will keep you disease free. Only having safer sex with partners who are reasonably sure of being sti free is what will keep you sti free.

Also, even if she's tested negative recently, many tests give false negatives and many tests (like HIV) take 3-6 months after infection to detect the antibodies involved. Testing clean is good but safer sex is still needed in non-monogamous situations, or monogamous situations less than 6 months old.

Good luck! Take care of yourself and stay healthy. If she doesn't respect that then you deserve better. Truly. (And good info about the non-latex condoms and alternate lubes as those could cause her discomfort. There are safer sex options.)

12:58 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home