Tinder has become a cultural staple that’s helped de-stigmatize casual sex with its normalization and easy use. But that doesn’t mean talking about safe sex or demanding safe sex practices has gotten any easier.
When I moved to New York at the beginning of the summer, I downloaded Tinder. I had dabbled with Tinder in the past, but after two long-term relationships back to back, I was ready to put myself first, experiment, go on dates, and maybe try out the one-nights stands I had somehow avoided in college.
So, I sat in a Starbucks off Broadway, uploaded six photos of myself (two of me flexing, one of me eating a burger, one of me posing in a button down and two of me playing rugby for good measure) and started with a simple caption “rugby.”
Tinder is a sphere of swipeable sex objects that tends to make people feel objectified. My profile was superficial, meant to lure in women between 21-41 based purely on physical attraction. I was ready to embrace my inner shallow.
I was off to a good start. I had over 200 hundred matches, and I was feeling myself. There was one particularly muscular sailor I had a good feeling about, but as I readied to meet her in person, I was overcome by anxiety. “How the hell am I going to ask this stranger, this very attractive strong stranger when she was last tested?” Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
So in walk of shame style, I dragged my ass to the clinic, got some blood drawn, and when the results were in, I sent a casual text, “Btw, I just got my results back, and I’m clean.” Her response, “thanks for being upfront about it.” Then a painful five minutes later, “I’m required to get tested for work every June, so you have nothing to worry about.”
I was lucky, I had slipped passed uninfected. But I wasn’t ready to risk that again and began my quest to become fluent in talking about safe sex on Tinder. From using lines like, “I hear Kristen Stewart gets tested, do you? ;)” to, “If we’re going to fricky-frack, I’d rather talk about this over text… last time you got tested??” and even, “So do you have a dental dam flavor you prefer, or…”. I made it my mission to become a safe sex talk connoisseur and that’s why we’ve created 7 tips for talking about safe sex with someone you met on Tinder.
1. Have It Over Text: If you swiped right because this human is steamy hot and you know the second you see their beautiful face, you’re going to want to get it on… plan ahead. Send that text. From, “hey, btw have you been tested recently” to, “what’s your preferred method of protection” to “let’s have sex safe” followed by a bunch of emojis, bring it up. You’ll thank yourself later. Besides, if they’re a jerk because you want to talk about sex safe, were they really worth it?
2. Be Prepared: Bring those condoms, gloves, and dental dams with you (BYOP). If safe oral sex is going to become normalized, it has to begin with you. Don’t be afraid to pause the action, take the protection from your pocket, jacket, or bag, hold it up, and ask your partner how they feel about using it. Remember, there is more to safe sex than the pill.
3. Get Yourself Tested: Different doctors test for different things. Begin the conversation in the doctor’s office. Ask them what they are testing you for and make sure they aren’t just testing you for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Ensure that you’re also getting tested for HPV, herpes, and HIV.
4. Have The Conversation Clothed: Admit it: once the clothes start coming off, the last thing on your mind is your partner’s sexual history.. Have the conversation early on during the sexual encounter.
5. Practice. While I only ever hooked up with the muscled-beauty I mentioned above, I challenged myself to continue to have conversations about safe sex over Tinder long after.
6. Remember: Safe Sex Is Not An Interruption. Safer sex is part of sex—it is not an interruption. Put on the condom together, help your partner hold the dental dam in place, and…
7. Breathe! Finally, as Our Bodies Ourselves shares, many of us were not taught about how to talk about safe sex. If it is uncomfortable for you at first, that is okay. Talking about sex is sexy and talking about safe sex is also sexy.