California’s recently passed SB239 softens the blow of offenses that come with willingly exposing someone to a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). Why make such a rule? The reasoning is unclear, but what is blatant is that it will have repercussions on relationships of people who have sexual partners with STDs. As if being in a relationship wasn’t already an uphill battle, now, for some, their fight will be a two-pronged war against biological and mental ordeals.

When one member of a relationship has an STD, they usually choose to keep it under wraps until their partner is ready to indulge in sexual acts. Being forthcoming about something as polarizing as STDs isn’t an easy feat. People go through a denial phase where they want to rebuke their bodily conditions until the damage is irrevocable. That is why it’s critical that people are regularly screened for any biological harm caused from sex. As pleasurable as sex can be, there are still measures that need to be taken to ensure the body remains in fighting form for the rest of your life. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that people in active sexual relationships should be tested at least once a year. Once you come to terms with your own condition, you can start being proactive in how you approach each and every day.

So how does one break it to their partner that they have an STD? The conversation won’t be easy, nor should it be. But always remember to respect the response of the person you are telling. Should they choose to react in a less than favorable way, it is ultimately within their right. After all, dropping a STD confession is not something many people will positively react to on the spot. Accommodations to sex life will have to be made, and there will be a lot of meticulous decisions made in the bedroom to keep both parties safe. For example, condoms will have to be indefinitely used during intercourse so that no harmful fluids will be exchanged. Sometimes snuggling and cuddling up with your mate will have to suffice since those are alternative ways of showing affection that don’t jeopardize either party. But even if one elects to have an active sex life, it is very possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle if parameters are set.

When breaking the news of having an STD, you’ll want to make sure that you give yourself a much-needed reality check. Imagine if the roles were reversed and you were being the one told of someone’s disease. You’d want that person to empathize with you and honor your honesty. To get a holistic understanding of STDs one must look through a different lens so you can gauge how someone else might feel or react. Discussing these topics requires an extreme amount of bravery, so when someone accepts the seemingly insurmountable challenge of addressing their status, a certain degree of respect should accompany that candidness.

Additionally, you must be completely transparent about the condition you are facing. Outright declaring your disease and refraining from toying around with a heavy subject will save time and keep the conversation as serious as it needs to be. You don’t have to delve into how you got it, especially if that part is still unclear, but you should be open to answering any questions that stem from the confession. Guide your partner to a place of understanding by being mentally present to direct the conversation. And no matter how ugly the truth seems, reiterate to your partner that this isn’t the end of the world. Changes will have to be made, but a healthy relationship can still exist despite one member having an STD. Stay strong enough for your partner should they become apprehensive after your confession. As long as you remain confident within your relationship and the role you play in each other’s lives, something major like an STD becomes relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

STDs are not something that should be hidden. Once you wear your weaknesses like a badge of honor, no one can use them against you. STD confessions involve taking ownership of your condition and being forthcoming with your partner. Even if your partner ends your relationship over an STD, you can take some pride in the fact that you were outright and direct with your condition. Something as simple as honesty has a huge effect on the trajectory of a relationship. Don’t let a stalling of the truth damage someone else’s life and leave them with a disease that’ll last the rest of their days. Exercise caution and make sure your partner is aware and safe.