I Found a Way to Have as Much Unprotected Sex as I Want…Responsibly. (I’ll Explain.)

I Found a Way to Have as Much Unprotected Sex as I Want…Responsibly. (I’ll Explain.)

For some people, getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is the worst thing that could possibly happen. They’d rather be stranded in the ocean with bloodthirsty sharks than get gonorrhea, even if it’s asymptomatic. For others, getting an STI isn’t that big of a deal. They go to the clinic, get treated with antibiotics, tell their partners they’ve been exposed, and wait a week to have sex until the infection fully clears.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle—they know that getting an STI isn’t the end of the world but they also actively try to avoid acquiring one. As a polyamorous bisexual, I fall into the “NBD” category, not because I’m polyamorous or bi—I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes that bi, poly people are spreading STIs like they’re going out of style—I just personally have a higher risk tolerance. (More on that later.)

So when discussing protection with my partners, I let them know: While I take PrEP (a medication that decreases the likelihood of acquiring HIV through sex by 99.9 percent) and get tested every six to eight weeks, I have unprotected sex with multiple partners on a regular basis. When I’ve shared this with people in the past, some haven’t wanted to have sex with me, even with a condom. And that’s totally fine! I don’t get offended. I’m honest so that people can make informed decisions. When you’re non-monogamous or sleeping with multiple partners, this kind of conversation is especially important, because everyone’s comfort level is different.


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Most folks appreciate my honesty and are comfortable having sex with me as long as we wrap it up (and so, we do!). Some are even delighted that I prefer not to wear condoms because they love unprotected sex, but feel shameful or “dirty” asking for it. When they find out I won’t judge them and that I actually prefer it, they’ll usually say something along the lines of, “Thank God, I really didn’t want to wear one!” Either way, they always have the information they need to decide for themselves. People can’t authentically consent if they’re not aware of the risks.

But the thing is, sex always comes with risk—even if you wear condoms every single time. That’s why sex experts have moved away from saying “safe sex” to “safer sex,” acknowledging that all sexual acts come with some risk. For example, condoms don’t fully protect against genital ulcer infections and viruses, like syphilis and genital herpes, because you can still be infected in areas not covered by the condom. And unless you’re one of the few people on planet Earth who wears condoms during oral sex (no shade), you can still get oral chlamydia or gonorrhea.

You’re not morally superior to anyone else if you take a more careful approach to sex, but everyone deserves to feel comfortable in bed (or on the floor…or outside…or in their roommate’s bed). Being non-monogamous and dating someone with a significantly different risk tolerance makes this tricky. It doesn’t mean you can never have sex; it just means you need to find a way to have it where the low-risk partner feels safe, and the high-risk partner doesn’t feel like their sexual freedom is being infringed upon.

She was my girlfriend, and to us, sex felt much more intimate when it was skin-to-skin.

One of my exes, Katie*, who I’m still great friends with, was very STI-averse. (She would choose sharks over chlamydia every day of the week.) While we both had multiple sexual partners when we were together, she always used condoms with her other lovers, whereas I didn’t. But…she really wanted to have unprotected sex with me. I get it—she was my girlfriend, and to us, sex felt much more intimate when it was skin-to-skin. (Not to mention that cream pies are just stupidly hot.)

But I really didn’t want to give up having unprotected sex with other people. I wrote about this extensively in my book, Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto: As a bisexual man, having unprotected sex is important to me. I grew up terrified of having sex and contracting HIV, which impeded my ability to experience same-sex intimacy. But thanks to PrEP—which was approved by the FDA in 2012—I can have unprotected sex without fear of contracting HIV. So I knowingly take a higher risk of getting other STIs because I want to experience as much pleasure, joy, and intimacy as possible.

To find a solution that worked for the both of us, Katie and I had a conversation. But not when we were naked and about to have sex, because that’s when you have horny lizard brain and make stupid choices. We were fully clothed and outside of the bedroom.


Katie said that she trusted and loved me, and wanted to start having unprotected sex together. Doing so would make her feel like we were taking our relationship to the next level. I said I felt the same way, and asked, “How do you want to navigate STIs?”

“If we’re having unprotected sex, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with you having it with other people because I really don’t want to expose myself,” she said.

Honestly, I really appreciated how she framed this. I didn’t feel like she was telling me what I could or couldn’t do when I wasn’t with her—a frustrating issue I had run into with partners in the past. Instead, she expressed her comfort level and set a boundary: If I had unprotected sex with others, she would not have unprotected sex with me, even though we both really wanted to.

I told her I totally understood, but that I didn’t like the idea of not being able to have the kind of sex I wanted as long as we were together. So we came to a compromise: I would go get tested, and when my results returned negative, we’d start having unprotected sex like jackrabbits—just nonstop for a few weeks. Eventually, when I had unprotected sex with someone else, I’d tell her, and we’d go back to wearing condoms for a few weeks until I could get tested again. Once I had negative results in hand, we’d go back to barebacking until sunrise.

We encouraged each other’s slutty antics with various partners, feeling nothing but compersion.

“It’s going to be hard going back to condoms when we’ve been fucking raw for a few weeks,” she said. “But let’s give it a shot!”

We did, and guess what? It worked fabulously for us. She felt safe with the level of risk she was taking, I didn’t feel like I was being limited or giving up a part of myself by being with her, and neither of us felt judged for our sexual behaviors with others. We encouraged each other’s slutty antics with various partners, feeling nothing but compersion.

I understand why STI transmission can turn people off from wanting to try non-monogamy. The more partners you sleep with, the higher the risk of contracting something—not to mention, you have to have a lot of talks about your sexual history, habits, and protection.

Every couple, committed or not, needs to figure out what works for them, and that will likely change depending on who you’re with. For me, one thing will remain a constant: I’ll take the intimacy I feel from having sex the way I want over sharks, any day.

*Name has been changed.

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