We’ve all been there. You started out the night bursting out all of the lyrics to the classic Kelly Clarkson throwbacks and braved the frigid walk to a party. Then, you’ve spotted your Commons Crush—and things have gone from fun and flirty on the dance floor to hot and heavy in the dorm room. Or, maybe, you are spending the night with your long-term partner. You trust, love, and care for each other—why would you need condoms? You’re not seeing anyone else.
Whether it is a short or long term relationship, the same responses persist:
“I don’t like condoms”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“It doesn’t feel as good.”
“I guess you don’t really love me.”
And, regardless of how many times Salt N Pepa can say “Let’s Talk About Sex,” conversations about sex and condoms can be both intimidating and awkward. Sexual Education talks tell us that condoms are a clear safeguard from STIs and pregnancy. Yet, even with this knowledge, only 54 percent of college students report using condoms, and that number only decreases when combined with the use of alcohol and drugs.
Further, one in two sexually active people have STIs before 25 years old; one in four college students have an STI; and 80 percent of these people do not experience noticeable symptoms.
Using and talking about condoms is not only about sexual health, but it is also about implementing communication skills about your wants, needs, values, and standards; skills which are important both inside and outside of the bedroom.
So, if your partner does not want to use condoms, find out why and talk it out:
“I don’t like condoms.” Why not?
“Don’t you trust me?” Trust isn’t the point. People can have an STD without knowing it. It only takes once to get pregnant or pass an STD.
“It doesn’t feel as good.” With a condom, you might last even longer, and that’ll make up for it.
“I guess you don’t really love me.” I’m not going to ‘prove’ my love by risking my health. Do you really love me? Do you want me to feel safe? Condoms can help me relax and enjoy myself more; why do you not want that?
Often, when we think about condoms, we are thinking only male partners. But, condoms can be used for both male and females, in both heterosexual and queer relationships. Another example of when condoms are not used is during oral sex.
“Who even knows what a dental dam is?” I do. And I know that they are a way to transmit sexually transmitted diseases, orally. It is a thin, flexible square piece of latex that helps prevent the spread of STIs or other germs during oral sex. They are easy to use. They are also FDA-approved for safer sex. If you are unable to find a dam, you can cut the condom, and place it over the vulva for safer oral sex.
Additionally, even after talking with your partner, there is the fear that they will still not want to use a condom. In these situations, the woman can use a female condom, instead.
“Why do we need to use a female condom?” “Won’t that be unconformable for you?” The female condom is bigger than a male condom, but it is not uncomfortable. Female condoms are able to offer convenience and control. They are small, discreet and portable. Female condoms let you take charge of your health. Therefore, even if your partner does not want to wear a condom, you can still protect yourself.
Condoms are about more than just sexual health: they are about consent, security, comfort, and communication. And, if after a clear, direct conversation your partner is still refusing, maybe it is time to take some advice from Queen B and tell them: Boy, bye.