STDs: How to Tell Him the News

By Romance Recovery's Johanna Lyman for

When to Tell Him You Have an STD When to Tell Him You Have an STD We recently covered WHEN to tell your partner you have an STD -- and let's keep in mind, it is not really cocktail-party conversation but something you share with someone you trust. Waiting until after you've been intimate is a recipe for disaster. Once you are at the place to have the talk, it may help to prepare yourself with strategies, words others have used, practice and deep breaths.

I know it's hard to talk about having an STD. Even though lots of people have or have had a sexually transmitted disease at some point, we're still very shy about confessing it. But it's better to have the conversation than not. In fact, I recommend talking about it even if you don't have an STD yourself.

There was a great campaign for safe sex in Montreal a few years ago. It was a photo of a man and a woman hugging, and there were several extra sets of arms around each of them. The message was that you're sleeping with everyone your partner's ever slept with. Since one quarter to one-third of adults have some kind of STD, according to the CDC, that message reminds us of an important point.

RELATED 4 Things Men Worry About

Here are some suggestions for having the conversation with a new partner.

  • Get Educated. Goddess Judicci suggests, "Find out the facts about your STD and be prepared to speak openly about the ways it can be transmitted and the practical steps you can take to prevent transmission. Find out the facts and communicate them calmly. In the long run, both of you will be happier and safer."

  • If you've tested negative but aren't sure your partner has, create a safe space to initiate the conversation. Help normalize it by sharing any experience you may have had with an STD, even if you've been cured.

  • "PRACTICE before having the talk with a close friend who can ask you questions," Dr. Sheri Meyers, family and marriage therapist, says. "Anticipate questions about how many outbreaks you've had, whether you have ever transmitted it, and how will you protect your partner. Even if they don't ask the question, you should have the answers ready."

Set Time Aside Set Time Aside

RELATED Sex: What He Really Wants (And Is Afraid to Ask For)

  • Set aside a time and place to talk, Dr. Sheri recommends. Don't wait until you're both hot and bothered; that's not fair to your partner. You want him to be able to think with his brain, not his other head. Dr. Sheri promises that he'll appreciate the chance to really think about what it means to him.

  • Use the "Oreo cookie" technique. Dr. Sheri says this starts with someone saying something nice to put you both at ease. You might say, "We've grown close, I'm attracted to you and want to get closer." Then move to the filling, or the meat of it. "I have xyz, I have had it for x months/years and haven't transmitted it to anyone." If this isn't true, admit to the transmission and tell him how you can prevent it from happening again. Then close with the chocolate, like "you're important to me and I hope we can work through this."

  • Give your partner time to process the news. According to Dr. Sheri, it may take a day, or three. Give him the space to figure out what he wants to do, and honor his decisions. Whatever he says, try to receive it graciously.

For most people, the important thing is knowing how to prevent transmission. Remember, STDs are a fairly common occurrence, not usually rare and deadly diseases. With a little education, they don't have to be a big deal.

Have you ever shared or heard this kind of news from a partner?

More from