Tips & Scripts for Emailing Your Partners
so they can know they need to get tested for an STD
- Think about how you would like to be told, if you were the one being emailed.
- The nice thing about email is that you can write it all out, give it a read, and easily link people to more information.
- The not great thing about email is (a) if you don't hear back, you don't know if they got it, and (b) emails can be shared with other people in a way a conversation really can't be.
- If you're sending someone an email to their work address, be aware that sometimes people's work emails can be read by their bosses.
- Know the basic facts about your STD so you can put the important one in your email.
- Always consider your own safety before notifying your partners. If you're afraid that your partner might hurt you, notifying them anonymously or not at all might be safer than telling them in person. To talk to someone who understands what to do to be safe: 1-800-799-SAFE.
When to email
- Email within the first few days after you’re diagnosed. For your current partners, email them before you have sex with them again, and make sure you either use condoms or don't have sex until you are both cured (if you have an STD that can be cured). It’s okay to take a day to process and calm down before notifying your past partners, but the more you put it off the less likely you are to do it, and the more likely your partners are to spread the STD to someone else.
- Don’t write your email when you’re angry or upset, or if you do wait to send it until you've calmed down.
- Email during a time when your partner is probably alone- not in class or at work- or if they only check their email in class or at work, email them shortly before they end for the day.
What to say
- For your subject line, choose something that they'll open but won't "out" them to anyone if someone sees their inbox over their shoulder. Something like:
- “Please Read in Private”
- “Important Info”
- Say hello- emails without a greeting can make you sound angry.
- “Hey [name],”
- Dive right in, and it might be good to emphasize that you just learned about your diagnosis, rather than have your partner think you knew you had an STD when you slept together or you waited a long time before telling them. Here are a couple ways to put say it:
- “I went to the doctor the other day, and learned I had [STD].”
- “I just got tested and found out that I have [STD].”
- If you don’t think your partner will recognize the name of you’re STD, you might want to add:
- “It’s an STD.”
- Apologize. Even if you don’t feel like it’s your fault. Maybe if you have only had sex with one person ever you don’t need to, but otherwise an apology makes everyone feel better. Something like:
- “I don’t know if I gave it to you or you gave it to me, and if it was me I’m sorry…”
- Tell them what to do next (which is to get tested):
- “I just wanted to let you know so you could get checked out.”
- Say goodbye, unless you want to say something else first:
- “Anyways, sorry to have to tell you this, and hope you're well otherwise,”
- After you sign your email, if you think your partner won't know for sure what your STD is or what it means for their health, give them a bit of background:
- “Some background on [STD]:”
- There's obviously a lot of background you can give on your STD. If you want to see the pieces of information we think are most important for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis, send yourself one of our anonymous emails and read or copy the content.
Have a tip or resource you think should be added to this? Think any of this advice is wrong? Contact us.