There is a limit to the advice a dating service or trade body might think it appropriate and necessary to give over sexual matters. Many people start their online dating journey with out any plan for or expectation of a sexual relationship. At the same time others are looking for something more casual or intimate.
We feel it right, therefore, to flag some issues around consent and sexual health: no-one wants any sort of relationship to go wrong or end badly because of confusion or some failure to deal with these issue as grown-ups:
Using condoms for all types of penetrative sex can significantly reduce the risk of contracting and passing on STI’s like HIV. But, be aware of STIs like herpes or HPV that can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact. You can reduce the risk of contracting some STIs through vaccination.
Not all STIs show symptoms, so keep on top of your health and prevent the spread of STIs by getting tested regularly. Think about being tested for STIs before having sex with someone new, and advise that they also get tested.
Communication is everything: Before you get physically intimate with a partner, talk about sexual health and STI testing. Plan on how you will protect yourself and sexual partners from infections when under the influence of alcohol or other recreational drugs. And be aware — in some places, it’s actually a crime to knowingly pass on an STI.
All sexual activity must be consensual and you should keep checking with your partner that they are comfortable with how things are moving. Talking with your partner can help you to respect each other’s boundaries. Always remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Do not proceed if your partner seems uncomfortable or unsure, or if your partner is unable to consent due to the effects of drugs or alcohol.