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"When can I have sex with my girlfriend again?"

You can tell our Support Services Team anything that's on your mind. We'll listen and do our best to help. This question is an example of a common one we've been asked recently. We hope you find our response helpful.

Your question:

December 2020

My girlfriend was treated for blood cancer last year and has been shielding. We don't live together and haven’t seen each other for months, apart from a few meetups in the park where we didn’t touch. Even when lockdown was relaxed, she was worried about seeing me. When will it be safe to us to go out together properly and start having sex again? I want to get back to where we were.

https://media.bloodcancer.org.uk/images/Bav_screen_in_shot.2e16d0ba.fill-530x395.jpg

Our answer:

This might feel like rejection, but remember that your girlfriend is at higher risk than most people and may be scared. This is actually a rational reaction to the situation she’s in. And at the moment, depending on where you live, you may not legally be able to see each other indoors.

It sounds like you need to take things slowly. It may take time to work up to where you want to be, but there are some practical things you can do to get your relationship back on track.

For example, if pubs and restaurants are open in your area and your girlfriend is willing to consider a date, do your research in advance. Ask what measures are in place for social distancing and discuss them with her before you go. Think about best- and worst-case scenarios. Decide together how long you plan to stay at the venue and agree that you’ll leave if she doesn’t feel comfortable. Perhaps have a code word that you can use if she needs to make a quick exit.

Talk about how to reduce infection risk

If your girlfriend is worried that you might be a source of infection because of the way you’re living, have a discussion about your social life and work life. See if there’s anything you can do to reduce your risk and hers. Come up with a plan together and agree what you’re going to do.

What’s the home situation for both of you? If either of you live alone, you can form a support bubble with one other household, even during a lockdown. This means you can legally meet indoors without distancing and stay overnight with each other. If this is an option, discuss it with your girlfriend and see how she feels about it.

Ask your girlfriend about her worries

When your girlfriend begins to feel more comfortable about her risk levels, you can start a conversation about sex. Think back to how your sex life has been since your girlfriend finished her treatment. Is she primarily worried about coronavirus, or do you think there’s a wider anxiety about sex since she had cancer? If so, her healthcare team may be able refer you both for help.

These conversations may not be easy, but it’s important to keep talking to each other. Try to understand your girlfriend’s point of view and take things one step at a time.

Find out more about supporting someone with blood cancer. Here's our full list of questions on topics you may find helpful.

Dawn, support line worker

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