Example of “Safer” Agreements [Workbook Appendix B, pt 2]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.

[UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!] Safer Sex Agreements are one of those topics that arise frequently in polyamorous relationships, and they’ve come back around for another visit recently. We in the East Bay Poly Potluck and Discussion Group have been watching the Showtime “Polyamory” series recently, and Agreements of all sorts are regularly discussed on the show. And separately, when local “sexpert” and educator Venus (aka Dr. Melanie Rose) mentioned some of her own Agreements in a local Facebook group discussion, I was reminded that while I’d formatted these Agreements, I hadn’t yet shared them here. (Whoops!)

As I mentioned in that discussion, these particular Agreements were developed at a time when I was in a different relationship structure than I am now.  At the time (and these were first drafted in the late ’90’s, and last revised in about 2007…) I was in a marriage consisting of two co-equal primary partners, in a hierarchical “primary-secondary” type model. The Agreements are also fairly hetero-centric and vanilla (neither of which fit me well anymore, either!). While I still reference these Agreements, they’re not particularly suitable for my current relationship model, which is more of an open network wherein I’m “primary partnered to myself,” and where I no longer assume a preponderance of heterosexual relationships.

In other words, if you’re thinking of using these as a jumping off point for your own Agreements, please take them with appropriate salt, and some careful consideration of your own situation. In Agreements, like condoms, one size definitely does NOT fit all! They don’t have to be lengthy, complicated, or onerous, though. The most important thing in making and using these sorts of Agreements, in my opinion, is that you and your partner/s all sit down and discuss the topic, and hopefully come to some accord about what might be important to each of you, and what various words and concepts mean for each person as well.

I’ve got a few more examples in my files, and I’ll be gathering those up to post soon.  In the meantime, just know that there are more examples of Safer Sex Agreements to be had out there–a few longer; many shorter–and that these are by no means meant to be anything like the last word in such things. In fact, these days I think they provide as much insight into what we were missing at the time as they do into what we were covering!

Do you have any questions or comments about these Agreements? As always, I’m happy to answer questions or engage in discussion either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’m also happy to create coaching packages to help you create your own set of Agreements tailored to your situation. We can discuss your particular needs in a mini-consultation, if that floats your boat.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

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Safer Sex Agreements for “Example House”

These guidelines are being presented as an example of what might be done for Safer Sex Agreements. Feel free to use them as a jumping-off point for discussion of your own rules.  You may notice gaps, or activities that you enjoy that are not covered by this agreement. Obviously, you’ll need to change the agreements to cover the actual situations that YOU encounter.


These are guidelines, not fixed rules. However, any exceptions to these guidelines can only be made in the face of what we feel to be comparable or even more strict safety-making mechanisms. And consulting with one another in advance of sexual contact is a requirement for making those kinds of exceptions.

Each level describes what WE are OK with doing under those conditions.  But YOU have to decide if YOU are OK with these behaviors. Your requirements could be more stringent than ours.

We recommend consulting a reliable source of sex information (e.g., San Francisco Safer Sex Information hotline) for the most up-to-date information, since safer sex is an ever-changing field.

Agreements (These apply to all of our lovers):

  • Partners will be tested every six months unless otherwise negotiated (HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis B&C (& possibly A); baseline HSV test recommended; women get Pap yearly if possible, especially if they have not had the Gardasil vaccine.)
  • The following vaccinations are recommended: Hepatitis A & B, and Gardasil (HPV). Vaccinations are not fail-proof however, so continued periodic testing is recommended.
  • Condom breakage/slippage will be reported ASAP to all immediate partners
  • A positive STD test (either first time, or a change in status) or a known, incurable STD will be reported to all immediate partners ASAP, before the first (or next) sexual contact.
  • Risky behavior (whether your own or your partner(s)’s) will be reported to all immediate partners as soon as it is known.
  • A new partner will either be able provide recent test results—within the past 6 months—(and sufficient history to confirm their continued validity), or will get new test results before contact.
  • Once first test results are obtained, partners are considered at Level 3. If the second test is not taken at the six-month point, or risky behavior is occurring, the relationship reverts to Level 1.

Some Definitions:

  • PIV:“Penis In Vagina”
  • Safer Sex Agreement: A clear and unambiguous discussion about safer sex, plus regular testing
  • History: Having had the safer sex talk, and having obtained a clear STD status by report but not necessarily by testing
  • Clear: No known STDs, or no change in status from previous test, or no active outbreaks (where non-fatal, incurable STDs already exist, such as herpes)
  • Testing: Full panel of STD tests (VDRL) plus an HIV test and a Hep C test.  Preferably also
    Hep A&B & Gardasil/HPV vaccinations or tests. We also recommend a baseline HSV test if you don’t know your status.  Women should be getting yearly Pap smears. Exceptions to these requirements could be made for a known clear status–negotiated on a case-by-case basis ONLY
  • Fluid bonded with Barriers: Unbarriered “genital rubbing” (frottage) is allowed.  This level (5) might be invoked for pregnancy prevention, for instance.
  • Risky Behavior:
    • Not abiding by the other rules pertinent to the level at which you are currently
    • Multiple outside partners without:
      • full barriers
        *OR* barriered PIV & safer sex agreement/testing with those outside partners
    • IV Drug use, etc.
    • Lying about or falsifying test information or STD status
  • All Partners Abiding: All partners are abiding by all the rules in these agreements appropriate to their level.  Potential new partners are reported to the primaries in “Example House”, preferably in advance of any sexual contact. Required for fluid-bonds, i.e., Level 5 and 6.
  • Ongoing Committed Relationship:  You are in some sort of on-going committed relationship with us, e.g., living with us and/or in a domestic partnership with us.  Additionally, there must be no significant risk of accidental pregnancy (so, for instance, a man might have had a vasectomy).  Required for Level 6 (barrier free).

Levels (in prose):

Level 0—No Sexual Contact:

We don’t need to talk about our history, or know about your testing, because there is no sexual contact between us.

Level 1—Full Barriers Plus Digital:

We haven’t had “the talk”, nor has any history of testing been established.  We can engage in digital stimulation, or oral-genital contact, but ALL contact must be barriered. Both partners are wearing gloves, and plastic or condoms are used for oral-genital contact, as appropriate. No anal contact.

Level 2—Full Barriers:

You’ve relayed your History and it seems OK, but you haven’t been tested within the last six months.  Same as Level 1, except that we don’t have to be wearing gloves. Still need plastic/latex for oral sex, though. No anal contact.

Level 3—Provisional Barriered PIV:

You’ve relayed your History, it seems OK, AND you’ve been tested within the last six months.  However, this was either your only test, or you weren’t getting tested every six months prior to that, so you don’t meet our “Ongoing testing” criterion. This means that we can engage in manual and oral sex without barriers, and that genital-genital contact still requires a barrier. No anal contact.

Level 4—Barriered PIV:

You’ve relayed your History and it seems OK, AND you engage in on-going testing every six months AND the last test was within the last six months and was clear.  This means that we can engage in manual and oral sex without barriers. WITH barriers, we can engage in PIV, genital-genital contact, and anal sex.

Level 5—Fluid Bonded with Barriers:

You’ve met all of the criteria for Level 4, AND all of YOUR direct partners are also essentially abiding by these rules as well.  Additionally, if you are at this level, and you intend to take a new partner, we prefer to know about it, preferably in advance of any sexual contact, and definitely before the next time we have sexual contact. When these criteria have all been met, we can engage in everything allowed by Level 4, PLUS unbarriered genital-genital contact (e.g., “frottage”), although PIV and anal sex must still include a condom (this reduces risk of pregnancy, and also reduces “viral load” somewhat, since the highest concentration of virus is usually carried in the semen).

Level 6—Barrier Free:

You’ve met all the criteria for Level 5: history, on-going testing, all your partners are abiding by this agreement, there is no discernable risk of pregnancy, AND you’re in an ongoing committed relationship with us. In short, you’re “one of us” now!  No barriers are required for any sexual contact with us.

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Would you like to get a printable pdf of these Agreements? You can get one by filling out the information in this webform below.  You’ll get the opportunity to sign up for my Newsletter at the same time, but if you decide you just want the pdf and not the Newsletter, you can opt out at the teeny tiny link at the very bottom of each letter you get from my Infusionsoft program. (Though of course I hope you’ll stay!)

One EXAMPLE of Safer Sex Agreements

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Thinking of writing some Safer Sex Agreements, but need an example to look at? Here’s one way to do it (taken from actual agreements between a married couple in a Primary-Secondary/Hierarchical model of polyamory.)

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

[Relationship Agreements Example: Appendix B, pt 1]

[Next Entry: Resources: More Relationship and Agreements Info ]

[Previous Entry: Agreements Tip #2b: Measurable and Verifiable Standards]

[Return to the Table of Contents for the Agreements Workbook Series]

[Return to the first text entry in the Agreements Workbook series]

[UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!]

3 thoughts on “Example of “Safer” Agreements [Workbook Appendix B, pt 2]

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