I’m talking about a “you should get tested” text, I mean.
Regardless of how mild or wild your love life is, being told via text message (or a phone call if you’re more old-fashioned) that you may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is never a fun experience. It’s a feeling in the gut that instantly makes you reassess not just what you did with the person in question, but everyone since. And if you’re as anxiety-ridden as me, you may just start extrapolating these feelings into everything else in your life. “If I had taken that other job I wouldn’t have known these people and we wouldn’t have gone to that club and I wouldn’t have met that person and I am doomed to forever be poor and alone,” before running to the doctor with a detour to Sixteen Handles.
However, as enjoyable as it is to get a text from a former one-night stand – in which case, look on the bright side: it’s nice that they kept your number! – or a friend-with-benefits-and-chlamydia-too, it’s even worse to have to be the one sending that particular message. Despite how common STDs are these days, and how treatable most of them are, it is inevitable that pressing that send button is like partaking in a walk of shame two months after the fact. It’s even worse if you are unable to determine your ground zero, so to speak.
Okay. So you’ve come to grips with the news and you’ve gathered up your courage to get tested and you find out you’re positive for something that is treatable. Your butt cheek is still reeling from that plunger-happy nurse with that extra-thick syringe. What do you do next?
Well, first you should try and remember all the people you’ve been with since your last sexual health checkup. Now, this can be a time-consuming task for some, so, firstly, congratulations: you’re a fully-operational adult with a perfectly normal sex life! Secondly, hopefully you’re getting checked out at the doctor frequently enough that you don’t need an abacus and miracle memory pills to remember them all.
Next comes the hard part. This particular type of text message shouldn’t just be something you type out willy-nilly like you’re sending an RSVP to a party. Try and personalize it (if you remember their name) so that it doesn’t just sound like they were one in an industrial line of anonymous sexual playthings. For all you know, they considered you the best lay of their life, so it’s nice if you can avoid making them feel even worse that you didn’t get in contact sooner.
Try and have a sense of humor about the situation, if you can. While I am not advocating the use of a ‘knock knock’ joke to share the news of your latest development (“who’s there?” “I HAVE SYPHILLIS!”), a little bit of levity can’t hurt. A spoonful of sugar and all that.
Also, it’s sometimes good to remind the person that you got whatever it is you got from somebody by doing exactly what the two of you did. This may just be for your own benefit, but it bears repeating. If they’re going to act angry, shocked and try to shame you, then maybe they should remain abstinent from life. STDs are a fact of life and until we’re able to enjoy sex in futuristic contaminant-free bubbles, some things are just gonna be there. Sh*t happens, as they say. 99% of people will respond like rational adults, so don’t take it personally if somebody has a bad reaction. Like that rash downstairs, their temper will soon fade.
It’s awkward and embarrassing for everyone involved, so try and just be human. Be open to them wanting to talk because it’s just rude otherwise. Take your medicine and just maybe this will become a humorous anecdote of how you reconnected with that cutie from the bar.