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Open relationships: aka "We're not dating, we just get down!"

It could be that you or your partner has a “primary” person with whom you have sex, and a man/men on the side that you’re boning without any talk of commitment. It could be that you don’t exactly consider yourself/them “boyfriend,” but you’re both in a relationship of sorts. Because you’re not an official couple means that there are definitely discussions that need to happen between you and your partner.

Questions to ask:
What are the rules and expectations of this relationship?
Are we using protection with each other?
Are we using protection with outside partners?
How open (or not) is this relationship?
What happens if feelings change or grow?

If the guy you are with doesn’t want to use condoms with you right off the bat, then it is a good bet that he has not used them with others in the past or even presently.


Monogamous relationships: aka “He’s only dealing with me (or better be!)”

Being in a relationship means different things to different people. Never assume being together means the same thing for both of you. Many people gay and straight, wrongly assume that being in a relationship protects them from being at risk for HIV and STIs. While it’s true that monogamy is one way of reducing vulnerability, often times monogamy isn’t always practiced 100% of the time. Trust needs to be built and maintained, but if the choice is made to not use condoms with your partner, ensure you both agree to keep things safe, and schedule regular testing together to make sure that you are both HIV and/or STI free. Cheating can happen in even the most deeply monogamous relationships, so you should also be ready to talk about what will happen if one of you makes a mistake and goes outside of the relationship.

Questions to ask:
Are we using protection exclusively with one another?
Are we using protection with outside partners as well?
What are the rules and expectations of this relationship?
What happens if one of us doesn’t follow through with these expectations (i.e., being unfaithful)?

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