It is important to have conversations with your partner about safer sex and healthy relationships, but that can be a lot easier said than done. Worried about how your new or existing guy is going to react? You’re not alone, many men have those fears. Check out the advice below from other men on how to make these conversations work. These are just suggestions collected from some gay and bisexual men.

It can be awkward!

Yeah, you’re right it can be awkward sometimes. Try to approach the situation with confidence. Chances are if you’re confident and bring it up without judgment, your partner will be open to the discussion. For all you know, he could be just as worried as you to bring it up. Just remember, nearly everyone who is having sex will have this conversation at some point, and many other guys before you have already done it.

Here are some tips that other guys have found helpful in having these conversations:

  • Don’t wait until the heat of the moment to start talking about HIV. It’s better to talk about it earlier rather than later—certainly before you have sex.
  • Some men with HIV have suggested that it helps to talk about their status earlier in the relationship rather than later. Disclosing you are HIV-positive after you’ve become close to someone can cause your partner to feel as though you have kept something important from him.
  • If you’re looking for a way to start talking, show him this web page. Watch the videos together, talk about the campaign and use it as a way to start the conversation. Approaching the conversation this way doesn’t make it sound like you don’t trust him, but rather you’ve been reading about it, heard about it, were talking to a friend who brought it up, etc., and because you care, you want to make sure you’re both protected.
  • Don’t force it. Find the right time and place to have a conversation. You can schedule a time to talk or have spontaneous conversations in a setting where you are comfortable.
  • Try scheduling regular check-ins, or “talkiversaries.” The key to a healthy relationship is having an open dialogue throughout the relationship. It can be hard to find the right time to bring these things up. If you agree to schedule them in advance, no one has to wonder about the timing of the conversations.
  • A conversation does not have to be face-to-face. Whether you talk, type, or text what is important is that you start the conversation about HIV.

With all that in mind, check out the conversation starters below organized by topic:

  • I got tested for HIV and other stuff the first time about a year ago, have you ever been tested?
  • I’ve never been tested for HIV and I’m kind of nervous to do it. Will you go with me?
  • I know we haven’t talked about this yet, but just so you know, I got tested for HIV last [week/month/whatever]. My test came back negative, and ever since I got the results I’ve committed to playing it safe. When was the last time you were tested?
  • So, when was the last time you were tested for HIV? How often do you get tested for HIV and other STDs? I was tested recently, but think we should probably go together to be on the safe side. What do you think?
  • I read something that said we should be getting tested for HIV at least annually, or even more often. How often do you get tested? Where do you get tested? Want to go together?
  • I saw this mobile HIV testing truck last week, and it made me realize we haven’t talked about HIV yet. When was the last time you were tested?
  • Before we take things to the next level, I think we should get tested for HIV. No matter the results, at least we’ll know how to keep each other safe and healthy.
  • Have you heard about the new home HIV test? Do you want to try a home test with me?
  • I was listening to the radio today and they said that you can get your HIV test results in as little as 20 minutes. I’m thinking about going. Will you go with me?