This is part of my three-part series around sexual health communication for Health Literacy Month.
Although Health Literacy Month is geared towards spreading awareness about the importance of communication between patients and health providers, I want to focus on the communication people can have with friends and sexual partners about STI’s.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, therapist or medical physician. Please consult with a qualified professional to figure out an approach to this topic that works best for you.
This is the second installment…
It was a regular/smegular summer day. I was getting food from one of my favorite food spots. I was sitting down looking at my phone and scrolling through Instagram when I felt the energy in the store shift. I turned to the door and saw a blast from my past – Michael.
You may have heard me talk about Michael in this story because he formally introduced me to BDSM. But due to a difference in point of view, ethics and all-around hurt feelings on both our parts, we stopped speaking. Regardless, when I saw him, I instantly felt a connection all over again. Despite what we went through, I missed him.
When he saw me, he came over and sat down next to me. We shared new stories about life and agreed to keep in touch again. After a few texts and calls filled with “I miss you’s” and “are you home’s,” he came and got me for a drive down memory lane – literally.
As he drove, we talked about his business, my writing, his job, my Erotic Blueprint certification, his son and briefly his son’s mother. A few minutes later, low and behold – we were at his place. The rest is pretty much self-explanatory. Lol.
Even though I wasn’t in the best physical shape ( I had a breakout on my back that was so bad he thought it was a BDSM bruise), I was excited to be with him again. So much so, I even told him I loved him.
It felt like old times, minus him talking to his child’s mother a few minutes after we had sex. (To be clear, he told me they were co-parenting but were not together, so control the urge to side-eye me. Lol.) After a few more minutes of cuddling, he had to go to his other job, so he took me home.
I was on Cloud 9. I thought I had my ‘dom’ back. While he didn’t officially collar me (officially make me his sub), I felt a certain allegiance to him and had a love for him.
Off and on throughout the day, I thought about our sexual encounter – until I remembered I had HPV.
I was so consumed with being with him again, I neglected my own body (which wasn’t in the best shapes to begin with) AND I neglected to share my sexual health status with him.
I waited a few days to get the courage to tell him I had HPV. When I told him, he didn’t know what to say. But I could tell he was angry, especially when he hung up on me. We briefly continued chatting via text, so I told him to check out my article on HPV and to let me know if he had any additional questions. Unfortunately, my article made the situation worse.
In the article, I spoke about having HPV in college, so he assumed I had it since then. He even went as far as to say I never cared about him since I never disclosed I had HPV. Although his sentiments were understandable, that’s not how HPV works. When I was first intimate with him, I was HPV negative, so I didn’t feel the need to tell him about my previous status. When he and I stopped speaking and I gained a new partner, my HPV results came back positive.
A few nights later, he texted me to come outside so we could talk only to tell me “never mind” and drove off. A few weeks later, he FaceTimed me and said he still wanted to have a BDSM relationship with me but because of my ‘situation’, he was scared.
Since we both had events to go to in the same borough that night, I asked if he could pick me up so we could talk on our way. He told me not to rely on him and that he’ll call me back to see if that would be feasible. I didn’t hear from him until a few months later.
Although I apologized, I didn’t get a chance to do it in person.
I didn’t get a chance to ask what he needed from me to gain trust back.
I didn’t get a chance to ask what he needed to feel safe sleeping with me again.
So, I understood his hesitation and behavior – even though it hurt.
While there were other contributing factors to our situation being unhealthy, my forgetfulness and lack of disclosure of having HPV when we started sleeping together again didn’t help.
By the time we spoke again, it didn’t occur to me to bring up what happened since it seemed like we were on good terms. Plus, I had no interest in immediately having sex with him. Regardless, those good terms had a shelf life. If we didn’t argue about one thing, it was another.
Now that I’m giving myself time to reflect on our situationship, I see how problematic that line of thinking is when you’re dealing with sexual health.
Although this wasn’t the proudest moment in my dating/situationship life, I wanted to talk about the different facets of sexual health – the good, the bad and the hard to get over – to destigmatize STI’s and have a healthier sex life.
Have you had a similar conversation? How did it go? What was the person’s response?