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-   -   Safe Sex (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=28108)

Fayerweather 09-06-2012 03:44 PM

Safe Sex
Hi everybody!

I have some questions. I was fluid bonded with both of my partners until this past week. My one bf has another gf and they recently started having sex and she recently started having sex with her second bf. My first bf and I decided (just to be safe) to start using condoms and I've been asking everyone involved about STI status and if they've used protection. It's been weird going from carefree sex with both partners (my other bf isn't dating anyone and my first bf and his gf waited a loooonnnggg time before they started having PIV sex) to using condoms all the time and I'm aware that even condoms aren't all that good at protecting against some STIs.

Also, everyone involved (my two bfs and my one bf's gf) have been tested semi-recently. Can't say the same for my metamore's new guy

What are some of your safe sex practices and communication routines? Any advice on how to approach talking about it. I feel like I'm the most worried out of my W-formation poly family, but maybe because I haven't had a chance to have a heart to heart with my bf's gf for a while and have only been communicating via text messages about this touchy stuff. Having a little transition anxiety and wanted to hear what other poly folks do to decrease the risk of infection and to keep themselves safe.


CielDuMatin 09-06-2012 04:23 PM

It's a definite concern, and one that needs to be addressed with a degree of promptness and clarity. Sometimes it needs to get painfully explicit into what activities require protection and which don't. Examples would be oral and manual sex.

I am going to be picky with you about the terminology you use, though - and that's not just for the sake of being annoying - there's a reason.

There's no such thing as "Safe Sex" - the discussion you are having is about "safeR sex". The distinction is really, really important. Because there is no definitive "if you do that you will be safe, if you don't you will be at risk" out there, then these discussions can't be about absolutes.

Different sexual activities have different amounts of risk. So this discussion comes down to a risk/benefit analysis. Since the risks are never zero, you need to decide what level of risk you are willing to take on in order to do that activity. Different people involved may have different levels of acceptable risk - none are wrong or right, just different. It is important to explore each of them, and arrive at a place that everyone can agree to and abide by.

Also, please discuss what happens when things don't go according to plan. This would include a condom breaking, or "getting carried away by the heat of the moment". Put procedures in place that talk about what happens if this occurs, and make sure everyone knows. This shouldn't be punishment, it should be about practicalities.

As an example of this latter, we have the agreement in place that should a condom break, then any sex between either of those folks and others will be with a condom. Since the incubation period for most of the STIs is 6 months or less, a full range of STI testing will be done after 6 months and then, assuming it is negative, the fluid bonding can resume.

I'm not saying that this is what anybody should do, but it just shows an example of the logic we used.

nycindie 09-06-2012 04:41 PM

There is a discussion thread with lots of info here:
Safe Sex - Standards, Practices, Information & Resources

Maybe you will find it helpful.

Fayerweather 09-06-2012 05:59 PM

Thanks Ny. I will check that out.

Ciel - Also, thank you very much for your advice. Discomfort with communication is the main problem I am facing. I feel like I am being obsessive and overly worried about all this. To a certain extent, you have to accept some risks and I understand that. I just want us to all get on the same page about what those acceptable risks might be. As it stands now, I haven't had sex with my bf who's other partner just started a sexual relationship with a new man. I feel like we need to have a family meeting about it, but two of us live relatively far away from the other two and I haven't even met the metamore's new bf yet. I'm holding off on sex with my boyfriend until we come to a clear and solid agreement.

Your input is greatly appreciated, and so was your lesson in appropriate terminology. I am a big fan of using the correct words to most succinctly describe nuances whenever possible

GalaGirl 09-06-2012 07:22 PM


Discomfort with communication is the main problem I am facing.
That goes away with practice DOING. Just do it.

Speak your truth, state your wants, needs, limits. Get everyone's temperature check and sex ed level.

And if you have not enough info yet? Don't have sex with your direct lovers or make it a rule that ALL sex will be barrier sex -- condoms, dental dams, saran wrap, gloves, whatever it is you feel best with for the practices your engage in most. No fluid bonding anywhere.

The only safe sex is NO SEX.

This is safer sex -- so you think about what safer sex is to you.

One of the sheets at opening up has a list of sex practices -- the checklist one. It is not every sexual practice in the world but it could help move the convo along if you are all looking at the same paper. "What about this? What about that?" type.



Anneintherain 09-07-2012 03:23 AM

We have a table I made up, with STI's along the top and activities with any risk factors along the side. Where they meet it says what protection needs to be used for that combo, be it condoms, gloves, if the activity isn't OK at all risk wise, or if no protection needs to be used for it.

This made us take a really good look at risks and what we were willing to accept risking bringing home to the other. Although it's not everyday dinner talk to say "Hey I can send you our safe sex agreement chart if you would like to know the specifics" it does make it perfectly clear what somebody can or cant expect from us (including knowing what will change if they get an STI on the list that they don't currently have) and they'll also know what risks we will take with other partners. It makes it easier to ask if there's anything not clear for them too.

A bit odd, but I know my husband can't remember all that stuff, and we've changed our mind about some things over the last year, so having a hard copy helps keep track of it, and keeps misunderstandings from happening, as well as that whole "I really like this person so I want to make different rules to apply to them than we discussed" in the heat of the moment. I don't mind the weirdness of it, and I like the idea that any metamours will be able to know what the addition of either of us brings risk wise to the table too.

GalaGirl 09-07-2012 03:28 AM


We have a table I made up, with STI's along the top and activities with any risk factors along the side
I like the sound of that! Hot ethics! And PM it to me! :D


opalescent 09-07-2012 02:20 PM

Me too, if you don't mind Anneintherain. (If too much of a pain, no worries!) I would find it a great starting place.

Pliglet 09-07-2012 03:57 PM


Originally Posted by Anneintherain (Post 153295)
We have a table I made up, with STI's along the top and activities with any risk factors along the side.

That sounds amazing!

can i request a peek at it too? :o

Anneintherain 09-07-2012 05:36 PM

Due to it's nature it doesn't copy paste in any useful way, so I believe I've managed to upload it to a magical cloud (ooooh)

I decided to blank a couple of the rows to keep the mystery alive :rolleyes: I was going to blank all but the STI's and activities but, eh wtf. I also understand our agreements on this are much more limiting than a lot of people choose for themselves, but I had a friend lose half of his tongue to oral cancer from HPV so I err on the side of caution.
I left all my overly personal notes at the bottom too.

Two notes:
Adam has HSV2 (with no history of an outbreak), I don't, hence gloves for a couple activities being on there on there for him but not me. His partners are free to accept more risk to them if they like, but that helps ensure it's a talking point where the risks will be discussed.

That's our default "new partner" behavior, after 9 months or so we agreed I don't need to use barriers for oral sex with my other long term relationship now as he's polysaturated and hasn't added any new partners since we started dating. May go back to them if that changes. I'd include that information during a safe sex talk with a new person.


Oh I feel like I just let everybody look in my undie drawer!

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