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Over the summer I met a guy and we hit it off. We had a lot of great conversations together and I grew to really like him and look forward to those conversations. Finally, we decided to make an attempt at dating.
It didn’t work out.
It’s not that there weren’t, you know, sparks and such. Honestly, I don’t even know if there would have been sparks because we never made it to a first date. Before we could get that far, we had “the talk.” You know, that one you dread and put off for a while? The STI talk. Okay, so mostly I talked and he revealed that he’d never been tested. That was a bit odd given that he was in his early thirties but I thought, “Okay, that’s just what people in this area aren’t used to. So long as he gets tested now, we’ll be square.” But then he revealed that he didn’t even believe in testing, and suggested we “roll the dice.” And that was when I remembered I’ve never liked casinos.
At this point, I have to be perfectly honest and say that I, who have been working the boards at Scarleteen for over a year and a half now, actually considered bending my rules a bit and going without testing but keeping up with condom use. I really liked him, and that just doesn’t happen very often for me, liking someone like that, I mean. Our interests and personalities and sense of humor just seemed to match up so well.
So I batted the idea around in my head for a while. I talked to some friends, who thought I was unrealistic for expecting testing prior to sex. I talked to my mother, the nurse, who agreed that he was far too old to never have been tested before but also thought that my rule could stand a little tweaking. I even talked to my cat, who just meowed and wanted that I pet him and put aside this silly notion of dating and leaving him alone on Saturday nights.
Finally, I came to the Scarleteen boards and I read. And I read. And I remembered all the users we’ve had who ended up with an STI because they thought testing was no big deal, or because their partners had lied about getting tested. I thought about the users we’ve had who were heartbroken when they discovered they had Chlamydia and thought their partners had been monogamous. I thought about how I told users each and every day that STI testing is important, and that I would be a hypocrite if I didn't "practice what I preach." I thought about how I wanted to live as long and as healthfully as I could and how this guy just might not be worth it, even if he did enjoy picnics in the park as much as I do, but I didn’t even know if he did. I also thought about how totally lame it would be to end up getting an STI from a guy named Bob. I don’t even like that name when it’s connected to Halloween party games involving apples.
I’m not saying I couldn’t handle an STI or even that getting an STI is so terrible. If I get an STI, I know I would be able to handle it because I know that it’s not the end of the world or even the end of my life. I know that most of them are curable, and the rest are treatable, and every day we are moving closer to finding cures for even those. But I also know that I have the knowledge, the information, and the ability to prevent getting an STI, more so than most people in the world, and if I don’t do everything in my power to avoid getting one, then I won’t be able to forgive myself.
I’m ignoring the rules my friends go by because they’re not in alignment with my own principles. And I’m ignoring the temptation to have a little bit of fun at the risk of a lifetime of personal resentment. In short, I am officially taking over the wheel of my sexuality ship. I realize my rules on testing may mean fewer passengers, but I’m not looking to take over the British fleet. I just want a pleasant little cruise with a few fun adventures.