Finding Intimacy With Condoms
Most of us were taught that condoms are, first and foremost, for protection against unwanted pregnancy. And secondly, that they prevent the contraction of STIs. Though this applies to all sorts of sex, the rules of engagement between two single people being intimate versus two people in a committed, monogamous relationship can be very different.
If you trust your partner and know that you’ve both been tested and are exclusively intimate with each other, then the threat of STIs mostly goes away. And if you’re on some form of birth control–like I was–condoms become pretty unnecessary. It’s still important to practice safe sex habits by getting tested for STIs and HIV regularly in your relationship, no matter how faithful you and your partner are. We’ve all heard the myths and excuses: sex is better without a condom–more “real,” more intimate. While there’s undoubtedly a different level of friction with condom-less, skin-to-skin sex, that doesn’t make it more loving. But for a long time, I believed it did.
When I decided to stop taking my daily birth control pill (for a whole host of reasons), I knew that meant that my boyfriend and I would have to start using condoms consistently for the first time in our relationship. After all, I wasn’t interested in getting pregnant. Adjusting our sex life around a new protective barrier felt like a huge sacrifice at first, albeit worth it; better this than the risk of unwanted pregnancy, or the continued discomfort with birth control’s noticeable effect on my weight and anxiety levels.
I was nervous that introducing condoms into our routine would feel like our relationship was taking a step backward in terms of intimacy. But to my surprise, it made the sex feel just as close. Once my body was in less flux due to my hormones balancing out, I was immediately more confident in bed (which makes a huge difference)! I also cherished the trust that came from knowing my boyfriend would always choose a condom–despite it being a new barrier between us–if that meant me being more comfortable.
There’s also a deeply intimate moment that comes from condom-use: the moment of anticipation after foreplay but before sex, when you both take the time to make sure the condom is on properly. Though its a practical step, it inherently builds anticipation. Ultimately, sex felt as intimate using a condom as it did when we were feeling each other directly. And as an added bonus, clean up was easier too.
Yes, condoms can be expensive and temporarily interrupt the “heat of the moment,” but I encourage you to embrace the challenge of finding the beauty in the rubber. You’ll be surprised by how much more exciting sex can be when you feel safe–naturally!