By Guest Blogger, Caitlin E.
Online Dating and Sexual Health: What You Need to Know
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Millions of people use online dating websites and apps to meet new people and engage in different levels of intimacy – from just chatting to casual sex to romantic relationships. With the rising popularity of various platforms such as Match.com, EHarmony, Tinder, and numerous others, the stigma that once existed around online dating has been greatly diminished. Even statistics show that the majority of Americans claim online dating is a good way to meet people.
But it’s still a relatively new landscape, where it’s crucial that we’re all well-informed and understanding of how we can navigate it responsibly. Here’s what you need to keep in mind regarding sexual health when meeting new people on dating platforms.
Sexual health is about psychological well-being too
The concept of sexual health is often mistaken for only the physical aspect of health in regards to sexuality, such as the absence of an STI.
But the World Health Organization reminds us that sexual health goes much further than that, implying psychological wellbeing, freedom of choice, and the ability to have a satisfying and responsible sex life.
In the online dating culture, you have all the freedom you need to engage with whomever you want and however you want. And when you have this kind of freedom, it’s especially important to listen to your gut instinct and to be cautious when meeting new people online.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of it, which makes it even more important that you fully acknowledge what you want and what you don’t want – regardless of how the person you’ve met will react. Listen to your innate needs, take care of yourself, and don’t let yourself feel pressured at any point.
Online dating is there to make things easier and more enjoyable for you, not to become a burden on your well-being.
Always use protection. Always.
A lot of people are hooking up through dating platforms, as the medium makes meeting new people much faster and more convenient. The math is quite simple – the more casual sex there is, the more STIs are likely to be circulating.
This is nothing new, as STIs are more widespread than you might expect. There’s just too much stigma around them so you can be sure that nobody is going to explicitly tell you they have an infection when they meet you.
Not only that, but your partner may have no idea he or she has an STI.
The only way to stay safe from STIs and maintain your sexual health responsibly is by using condoms – every time, no matter what.
This is especially important to take note of among the older demographic, where there’s still a common misconception that there’s no need for condoms if you can no longer have children. Regardless of fertility or other forms of contraception you might be using, condoms serve to protect you from STIs, and both sides of the relationship should have them around.
Maintain your good judgement
A lot of people rely on drugs or alcohol to ease into the situation and “loosen up” when meeting someone new. Again, you have the freedom to do whatever you wish – just make sure that you own it, that you have the confidence and your best interests in mind.
Overdoing it with either of those two will definitely cloud your judgement – and that’s where it will be difficult for you to keep your best interests in mind. Whether it’s engaging with someone you don’t actually feel that comfortable with or forgetting to use a condom during sex, clouded judgement increases the chances of turning an otherwise pleasant experience into a sour one.
The rising popularity of online dating is no coincidence. People feel comfortable with these platforms, and they present a convenient and exciting way to meet potential partners and like-minded people. But as more and more people use online dating apps, there’s a whole new dialogue opening up around sexual health and safety. Whether you’re entirely new to online dating or have an established profile, keep these points in mind to make sure that you navigate the landscape to your best interest.
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