Power Differences in Sexual Relationships?

What we know about power differences in relationships:

Sometimes people do what their partners want because they are afraid of their partner’s reaction. For example, one partner may be afraid to ask the other to wear a condom during sex which increases a person’s chances of getting or transmitting HIV. This is an example of how power differences can be harmful to the relationship and each partner.

Some relationships become abusive and violent because the power differences are so great. In these relationships, it might be even harder to ask a partner to use condoms or to have less risky types of sex. People in abusive relationships may have sex with others outside the relationship who feel safer or seem more caring or supportive.

What you can do

Think about how power affects your relationship and the things you do for your sexual partner. If you can, talk to your partner about your preferences before you have sex. Being able to talk openly is important for getting what you need in a relationship and staying healthy. However, if you feel threatened or have experienced violence in your relationship, it may not be helpful to talk with your partner without help from other people. A counselor can help you think of ways to talk to your partner and find other resources to get out of an abusive relationship. If you are using power to control or otherwise abuse your partner, seek support from a counselor or find other resources to help you learn different ways of being in a relationship. Communicating with your partner, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect are a few ways to keep relationships healthy and nonviolent.

Read full article on wwwn.cdc.gov