How Does Safe Sex Work In Open Relationships

Women's Dating

How Does Safe Sex Work in Open Relationships?

Katie B.

Written by: Katie B.

Katie B.

Katie B. has a MPH in health promotion and has plans to complete a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. You can read more about Katie B's journey in an open relationship at

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Practicing safer sex in an open relationship is much like practicing safer sex in a monogamous one, except you have more people and factors at play.

Healthy behaviors to practice, regardless of your relationship status, include:

1. Communicate verbally.

Talk about your past sexual partners and your past safer sex practices.

2. Get tested for STIs.

Do this before having sex (oral, vaginal, anal) with a new partner.

Share your test results with your partner and expect a similar level of disclosure in return. This allows you both to make an informed and conscientious decision around your sexual relationship.

Remember different STIs have different exposure timelines.

For instance, HIV can take about six months to show up on an HIV test. If you are worried about a possible exposure from last week, an HIV test this week won’t tell you if you contracted HIV.

Visually check out your partner for sores or lesions. Invite them to check you out, too.

“Talking about safe sex can feel unsexy,

but it gets easier with practice.”

3. Use barrier methods.

Use male condoms, female condoms, dental dams and more to prevent STI transmission.

If you and your partner want to have unprotected sex together, ensure that there is trust established that you will respect one another’s sexual health.

This includes practicing safer sex with people if you cheat, so you don’t transmit STIs to the partner you have unprotected sex with, and practicing safer sex with other partners if you are in an open relationship.

4. Discuss birth control methods.

Do this if you are having straight sex and talk about your plan of action if you unintentionally get pregnant.

When adding more sexual partners to the mix, it is important to communicate clearly with everyone about your sexual practices.

In my relationship with my primary partner, we have unprotected sex (I have an IUD that we rely on for birth control) and use male condoms for intercourse with all other partners.

We both get tested every three to four months for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV.

We make sure to get hard copies of our results in case any of our future partners want reassurance about our negative test results.

We both talk with any new partner about these practices and ask similar questions of them:

  • When were you last tested?
  • What were you tested for?
  • Who else are you involved with sexually?
  • What safer sex practices do you use with them?

From there, we are able to make an informed decision about what kind of sexual relationship we want and are comfortable with.

If I have a few different partners at any given time, I make sure to keep the lines of communication open, so if anyone has any questions about my safer sex practices with other people, I can talk about it.

Talking about safer sex practices can feel unsexy, but it gets easier and more natural with practice.

It’s important for your health, can help you relax with a new partner and shows you care about your partner’s health, too.

It’s the responsible and ethical thing to do if you do have a chronic STI, and it also demonstrates to any new partners that you care about and respect them enough to provide them with that kind of personal information.

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