We need to talk: How to reveal something they may not want to hear

First the good news: What you think is a deal breaker might not be a big deal to the person you’re dating. Now some bad news: You’re going to have to have the talk to find out. Here are a few tips to get you through it.

I’m a virgin
If you strongly self-identify as a virgin and plan to stay that way until marriage, consider making that a part of the getting-to-know-me conversations that happen when a relationship is new. You want someone who respects and shares your values, so putting it out there early is a good thing.

If your virginity is more about waiting for the right person—and if you feel like it’s time to get it on because your new partner is the right person—then timing the talk after you’ve fooled around a bit might make things easier. Why? Because you’ll already have established some intimacy and trust, and that will naturally pave the way for more.

Reality Chick’s Manswers column addresses when you should show your V card. Em & Lo don’t tackle the question, but their readers do. And Gurl.com has a video urging you not to stress about whether or not your partner will freak out over your virginity.

(BTW, if you plan on doing it, make sure you plan to use birth control. That goes for condoms too until you are both cleared for STIs. After all, it may not be your partner’s first time. Also, some STIs are transmittable without intercourse, so it’s good to get tested.)

I have an STI
The time to reveal this is before you’re intimate, not after. Do it in person, in a safe, private place, and enter the conversation by being as honest and informed as you can be. And please feel confident that you’re doing the right thing. (As opposed to feeling defeated or like something is wrong.) The STI doesn’t define you or make you less deserving of a hot, healthy relationship. (Just be sure to use birth control that’s also good for STI-prevention.)

WebMD offers some good insight into this type of talk. (Your attitude and mood will influence how your disclosure is received…) So does The STD Project. (…where you tell someone you have an STD is just as important as how.) TresSugar does this justice too. (Here’s the hard part. You have to be OK with rejection.)

I’ve got a lot of exes. Like a lot.
There’s a big difference between 18 exes and 80 or 800, but if that’s your story, that’s your story. Please don’t ever feel bad about your sexual choices or number of partners. But if you’re being asked how many people you’ve been with and you’re worried about sharing this information with someone new—because a lot of people do judge the number—then you should know that it’s OK to be vague or not answer at all. (Or, if you’re really pressured to reveal a number, some experts suggest you say “8 people” and leave it at that.)

Our Ask A Man friend shared his thoughts on this. So does this guy. And The Root has a really great take on revealing (or not revealing) your number.

The truth is, if you have something big to reveal, we cannot guarantee the outcome of the discussion. But we can support you through it, no matter what happens. So be brave, honest, and strong. And please post a comment if you have a story about a fierce conversation that went way better than expected. We also welcome comments if you need a little “there, there.”

We got you,

P.S. IUDs are growing in popularity for good reason. If you’re thinking about getting one, we’d be happy to clear up any myths about them.

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