The phrase ‘safe sex’ is expected to apply to the body, but your heart is just as important. Sadly, you can’t protect your emotions with a packet of three, but a few bits of common sense can prevent you getting into obviously heart-breaking situations.
To start with, is your partner single? Yes, some relationships start with one or other partner being unfaithful but it’s not a recommended situation. If your partner is prepared to cheat on their current lover, they may well do it to you in the future. And you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of lonely Christmases if they continue to juggle their lovers.
Does your partner want to keep the relationship quiet? If so, ask why. Having sex with someone who isn’t prepared to tell other people that they’re dating you is a recipe for heartbreak. After all, if they’re keeping you secret from everyone else in their life, what are they keeping secret from you? If they’re worried that their family or friends won’t approve, what hope do you have of a long-term relationship?
Added to this, if you’re forced to keep your relationship quiet, you may end up feeling ashamed of it, and shame can lead to all manner of other nasty things like loss of confidence and regret. Dishonesty breeds dishonesty – and who wants to live a lie? It stands in the way of communication, which is one of the most important things in any relationship.
Is your partner sexually honest? If they refuse to talk about their past, particularly on important things like their sexual history, you could be putting your heart on the line. There could be good reasons they don’t want to discuss things in detail but you need to be in a situation where you can talk about things openly and honestly before you progress to having sex.
Do you want the same out of the relationship? If you’ve got any niggling feeling before you have sex, they’ll only be exacerbated afterwards. For example, is your partner emotionally stable or are they on the rebound? Are they the ex of a friend of yours? If so, don’t do anything without talking to your friend first.
Do you know them well enough as a person? This is particularly important if you’ve met someone online. You may feel you know them intimately but reality and what people say online can be two different things. Do you feel happy that you could say no to your partner and they’d listen? If not, get to know them better.
Have they got a history of abusive behaviour with other people? Tread incredibly carefully if this is the case. It can be very hard to shift negative patterns of behaviour – and very easy to get sucked into a situation that is difficult to deal with.
All relationships put your emotions on the line. After all, opening your heart to someone gives you the chance that it may get broken. However, in a healthy relationship, the benefits far outweigh the risks. If you enter into it with the facts, self awareness, care, judgement and mutual aims, sex has no more the capacity to hurt than anything else in life. It can be wonderful, empowering and beneficial. Get your emotions straight before you get down to it and you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience.