Whether you’re dating to find a serious romantic partner or just having fun, exploring new romantic interests can be exciting. But don’t get so caught up in the fun that you forget to take the appropriate precautions. New relationships mean new sexual encounters, and that is not something to be taken lightly.
Ready to take the plunge and start exploring new relationships? Here are five pre-hookup precautions to take.
When having new sexual encounters, protection should be a top-of-mind concern. Luckily, you have several options to choose from. However, what works for one person may not work well for another. The right birth control for you will depend on a number of factors including overall health, lifestyle, and preferences.
The birth control pill and condoms are two popular methods for preventing pregnancy. While it’s always smart to carry condoms in the event of a hookup, additional birth control methods provide even further protection. From the IUD to the ring, patch, or shot, there are various types of birth control methods to choose from. Birth control pills are one of the most popular options, and with telemedicine growing, the pill is easily prescribed online.
When hooking up, you shouldn’t just be aware of your own sexual health status. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner as well. Make sure you’re comfortable having this conversation prior to any hookups. Practice how you will share information with your partner and how you will ask them questions. This is a moment to be completely honest and open.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are actually very common. They should be of concern to anyone who is hooking up. You can quickly and easily get tested for STDs to give both you and your partner peace of mind. Encourage your partner to get tested and point them to resources if they’re unsure of where to go.
Word of advice: if a partner won’t take testing seriously or gaslights you for asking, it’s probably a sign. On to the next! The right person will want to be safe and respect your wishes.
Dating can be a fun endeavor, but you must be cautious of the people you may encounter. It’s not like kindergarten where anyone who smiles at you is your friend. Unfortunately, there are some weirdos out there. And while you should enjoy the experiences that come with dating, you can also never be too cautious.
To ensure that you’re always safe, share your location with some of your closest friends. Ask them to keep an eye on you and check in every so often. If you want to take your safety to a new level, there are also free safety smartphone apps that you can download. These apps allow you to easily notify loved ones when you feel unsafe and provide detailed location information.
Before you start hooking up, have a serious conversation with yourself about expectations and boundaries. Then, make sure you’re ready to communicate those with a partner. If you go into dating blindly in regard to these topics, it can end badly. So ask yourself the following questions.
- What do you expect from a partner when hooking up? Be clear on what you expect from a hookup buddy or romantic interest. For example, if you want them to wear a condom with every sexual encounter, communicate this early on.
- What are your expectations for a relationship? Let’s face it, the DTR (define the relationship) conversation comes up all the time when there is hooking up involved. So, ask yourself, do you want a relationship? Or are you just looking for something casual? Either is fine, you just need to be upfront about it to any romantic interest of yours.
- What are your boundaries? You should never feel bad about setting boundaries. It’s healthy and completely your choice — anyone who doesn’t respect that probably doesn’t deserve you. From emotional boundaries to boundaries you have in the bedroom, nothing is off the table. Communicate as much as possible to ensure you’re on the same page.
No matter what your boundaries and expectations are, be as open and honest as possible. Even if things don’t work out, you can walk away knowing you did what was best for you.
Whether you’re looking to pursue one romantic interest or play the field, a second opinion usually can’t hurt. Before you start hooking up, talk to those in your corner. Ask for advice based on their experiences. Even if they don’t have much wisdom to share, your loved ones probably know you better than anyone. They can still offer sound advice to make sure you don’t end up hurt or in a bad situation.
Take that conversation a step further by seeing a therapist prior to entering a hookup stage in your life. This will put you in the right headspace in preparation for what is to come. Plus, it can significantly improve your mental health. Therapy will also likely make you more attractive to potential love interests. Studies show that a large majority of people prefer to date someone who is in therapy. That’s a win-win!
Dating can be fun, exciting, and scary all at the same time. You’re dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions while also trying to navigate the hookup world. It can be a lot to handle. But as long as you’re confident in yourself and trust your gut, you’ll be just fine. If you know who you are and what you’re looking for, you’ll attract the right person. In the meantime, enjoy yourself — just make sure you’re being safe while doing so.