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You have every right to ask your boyfriend (or any other partner) to wear a condom, and to say no to sex if he won’t use condoms. You’re being responsible and looking out for your health and his, and it’s really not cool of him to pressure you to have unprotected sex and risk pregnancy and STDs.

But it’s totally normal for it to feel hard to set those boundaries with a partner who is refusing to use a condom — it’s a tough situation, especially when you really like someone. It can help to write down your thoughts or practice what you’re going to say before you start talking. And try not to have the conversation right before or during sex. Choose a time that’s not in the heat of the moment, so you both have a clear head.

This video has some tips for starting the conversation, and good comebacks for condom excuses:

Try talking about ways to make using condoms fun and sexy — like experimenting with different styles of condoms, using lube, and putting the condom on for your partner. And mention that having sex without condoms really stresses you out, and makes it hard for you to enjoy sex. You can say, “When I feel comfortable, I can really get into sex and it will be so much better for both of us. If we don’t use a condom I’ll just be stressed and not able to focus on what we’re doing.” Your pleasure and health is important, and your partner should want sex to be a positive experience for both of you. If they don’t care about those things, it could be a sign that the relationship is unhealthy.

At the end of the day, if you explain how important using protection is to you and your boyfriend still refuses, it may be time to think about moving on. We know how hard this can be, and how sometimes it seems like you’ll never meet anyone else you’ll like as much, but that’s just not true. There are millions of people out there, and you can definitely find a partner who will give you the love and caring you deserve — but it will be even harder to meet them if you’re wrapped up in someone who isn’t treating you well. So put yourself and your health first. 

Tags: relationships, healthy relationships, birth control, condom