I have always preferred the term “responsible sex” over “safe sex”.  It implies that we have a choice when it comes to the decisions we make.  I have written a lot about responsibility as it deals with emotions and how our actions affect the relationships in our poly circle, but today the topic gets a little more earthy.  Let’s talk about sex.  We were all in a Sex Ed class at some time or another.  We all know the statistics, consequences, and responsibilities that come with sex, and by now we all know how to be healthy, sex positive adults.

Do you remember that poster of the sex pyramid?  No not that pyramid, the other one.  The one that shows how many people you actually have sex with when you factor in every partner your partner is with.  Yeah, that one.  As with any other actions in a polyamory, the decisions we make affect each and every member of our family.  I take that responsibility very seriously and do not even consider sex with anyone who tries to weasel his way around safe sexual practices.  I have heard every line in the book.  I consider this blatant disrespect and an attempt to put my entire family in danger, since giving in puts not only me, but my partners and their partners and so on, all at risk.

My family trusts me to make responsible decisions, and I trust them to do the same.  This level of trust is crucial in a poly situation.  I’m sorry, but no sex is worth breaking that trust.  Yes, especially sex with you Mr Random Internet Hookup.  I’m sure you’re just as trustworthy as any other person on the internet, which means I brought my own condoms, so there’s no risk that they’re old, weathered, or tampered with.  As a side note, always make sure your barriers are in good condition.  This doesn’t just mean checking the expiration date.  This means checking the packaging.  Have they been sitting in a wallet for a year getting beat up?  Have they been repeatedly exposed to extreme heat and cold?  Could they have been punctured?  Be smart, friends.   Condoms are not so expensive that you should risk using one that’s past its prime.

The next step in responsible sex is testing.  Unless you’ve been abstinent for the last six months, even if you’ve been protected every time, regular testing is still necessary.  Our family gets tested at least one every six months just to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and this is something I’ve had to explain to clinic staff in the past.  We don’t get tested because we feel dirty or because we’ve done something wrong.  We do it to be healthy and informed. An informed family is a responsible family.

At this time I am blessed to have medical professionals in my life who don’t bat an eyelash when I talk about my lifestyle and are always happy to give me the information I need to keep us all healthy, but not after a long road of judgmental and unhelpful ones on the way.  I have had OBGYNs tell me I should use condoms with my husband because I can never be sure he’s telling the truth about his actions.  I assure you, I would not be married to him if I could not.  There is also outdated information still being passed out by medical professionals about HIV and bisexual men, gay men, and apparently men in general that is no longer useful or apropos, and they have used it to warn me about the dangers of my choices in partners.

I do have partners with whom I am fluid bound.  It’s a big step in a relationship for me, and one I don’t take lightly.  It takes a huge amount of trust and commitment to accept what happens if accidents do happen.  That old Sex Ed cliché “Nothing is 100% but abstinence” has truth to it, and this lifestyle incorporates a certain level of accepted risk.  Making the decision to be poly, fluid bound, kinky, or anything else means acknowledging that risk and agreeing to deal with any fall out as a family if it happens.  In most cases it doesn’t, but it has to be something you keep in the back of your mind, because the power to decrease or increase the likelihood of unplanned events is yours.