In this edition of disturbing male confessions, more than 80 percent of guys admit to having used at least one tactic to avoid using condoms during sex, according to a new survey published in the Journal of Sex Research. And even worse, men said they try three and a half different kinds of tactics over the course of their hookup history, on average. Definitely not OK.
For the study, researchers from the University of Washington polled more than 313 men between the ages of 21 and 30 on their sexual behaviors, including their histories with condom use and/or resistance to using condoms. “We wanted to uncover how common condom-resistance behaviors are among men and what kinds of coercive tactics are most frequently employed to persuade their partners,” says study author Kelly Cue Davis, PhD, research associate professor at the University of Washington. “Not only had most men attempted at least one tactic since the age of 14, most had also tried a number of tactics throughout their lifetimes.”
While condom coercion is scarily common, your options aren’t limited to throwing him out of bed or just having unprotected sex when you’re not OK with it. Stalling the foreplay to make sure he suits up may seem like a buzzkill, but if you or your partner aren’t monogamous or you’re relying on condoms as your primary form of birth control, using one tends to fall into the not-optional category. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at higher risk for pregnancy and STDs. So what do you do if your guy’s lobbying to go without?
Ideally, you’d nip this all in the bud by laying out your protection policy ahead of time. That way when things get steamy later, he’ll already know how you feel and what to expect. “If you stand firm and lay out your rules for him, most guys will ultimately respect your decision,” says Belisa Vranich, PsyD, clinical psychologist and author of Boys Lie. “You just need to have an open conversation about it when the time is right.” But in case situations still, ahem, arise in the heat of the moment, Vranich offers these tips for how to handle the top lines men reported trying in the survey—without killing the mood.
His line: “Don’t worry, I’m clean.”
This is the most common tactic men try, according to the survey; 73.7 percent of guys think a self-reported clean bill of health is enough to convince you to ditch the rubber. “Men have a tendency to assume that if it looks normal, then everything’s OK,” says Vranich. “But STDs are often asymptomatic in men, so without being tested by a doctor, they may never know if there’s a problem.” Nothing kills the mood faster than dropping the S-bomb, so counter with quick, “Yeah, but there’s the whole pregnancy thing to worry about, too.” Then proceed to start opening the condom before he can argue with you.
His line: “You’re so sexy—I can’t wait. Let’s just do it.”
Most men (73.2 percent, to be exact) think that if they can sweet-talk you, then you’ll agree to some condom-free action. “This is one of the more dangerous tactics since it’s easy to be charmed in the heat of the moment when hormones are rushing,” says Vranich. “Eliminate temptation by making it as easy as possible to stick to your plan.” Stash a few rubbers in your purse or bedside table ahead of time, for example, for easy access. Having some at arm’s reach will help you stay strong if he suggests getting frisky without suiting up—plus, being able to whip one out in a matter of seconds trumps his “we don’t have time to waste” card.
His line: “It’ll feel so much better without.”
It’s the oldest line in the book—and 50.3 percent of guys report having tried it. But, spoiler alert: It may not always be true. According to a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, both women and men enjoy sex as much with condoms as they do without. “Women may actually find that they can climax more regularly with condoms, too, since it alleviates some anxiety about pregnancy and STDs,” says Vranich. There’s plenty of pleasure-enhancing condom varieties out there (think ribbed, ultra-thin and body heat-activated) that can feel like a second-skin, so snag some from your nearby pharmacy and tell your guy you want to try them out to see how they work—that way using a condom is actually part of the fun.
His line: “Can I not wear a condom?”
Interestingly enough, 40 percent of men admit to taking a more blunt approach, flat-out asking for permission to go commando. “He’s probably thinking that if he puts you on the spot, you’ll be more likely to just go with it,” says Vranich. Fire back a response that’s equally direct—simply say, “Nope. No condom, no dice. That’s the deal.” It’s not exactly pillow talk, but you have to be firm. Otherwise, he may interpret hesitation as uncertainty and think he has some wiggle room, says Vranich.
His line: “What, you don’t trust me?”
The emotional play is a jerk move—but according to the survey, more than 34 percent of men have tried it. “Some men may genuinely feel offended by your insisting upon using a condom, while others may use this as a means of manipulation,” says Vranich. “Just explain that is has nothing to do with him personally and it’s just your non-negotiable policy.”
Those are the biggies, but others tactics men tried included deception (for example, claiming they’d been tested for STDs when they really hadn’t) and condom sabotage (like agreeing to use a condom and intentionally breaking it when putting one on—yikes). The bottom line: Whatever your policy on protection, you should be open with your partner about it and stick to your guns—no exceptions. “If your guy is still pushing for no condom after you’ve been upfront about your rules, it may be time to walk away,” says Vranich. “Safe sex is something you need to be on the same page about—no exceptions.”