Fluid Bonding and Safe Sex

Fluid bonding is a common term in polyamory safe sex discussions. Fluid bonding commonly means having sex without a condom or other barrier method. The idea being that your fluids are mingling and joining together.

In hierarchical poly relationships, fluid bonding it usually reserved for the primary couple or group. In egalitarian or solo poly fluid bonding is a sign of a highly entwined relationship and a great deal of trust. It is also a potential minefield.

Fluid Bonding and STIs

One of the more popular discussed reasons for fluid bonding is it reduces the risk of getting infected with an STI. By only having barrier-free sex with people you trust, you get some of the benefits of a closed relationship (barrier free sex, lack of worries about infection with the people you have sex with most often) while still being open. So far so good, right?

Here’s where the trouble comes in: barriers are not 100% effective in preventing STIs. For instance, the last time I checked the research, male condoms were believed to be 80% effective in reducing transmission of HIV. 80% risk reduction is damned good—but it is not risk-free. And barriers still only protect against some STIs. It is still possible for people in fluid bonded relationships to pick up an infection and spread it to their fluid bonded partners.

Whether or not you are fluid bonded, you still need to get tested, regularly.

Fluid Bonding and Pregnancy

Whether or not you prefer to practice fluid bonding, pregnancy throws a wrench in the works. Some people rely on fluid bonding to prevent pregnancy outside the “main” relationship. Some people prefer not to fluid bond, but want to have a baby. In both cases, it is vitally important to remember that there is no such thing as 100% effective birth control.

I’ve harped on this point until I’m blue in the face. The vast majority of people who think they are protected from unexpected pregnancy, aren’t.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use fluid bonding as part of your birth control plan. It does mean you need to be honest with yourself about the risks of whatever approach to birth control you choose.

Fluid Bonding and Assumptions

Fluid bonding requires using barrier methods with everyone other than your fluid bonded partners. Simple, right?

Well, if your partner agreed to fluid bonding because they were worried about pregnancy, they may not see a need to use dental dams. You, in the meantime, are trying to reduce your STI exposure and assume barrier methods are being used with all genital contact. Can you say “Recipe for drama?”

Whatever your reason for fluid bonding, check your assumptions at the door. Make sure you and your partner(s) are on the same page about what you expect. Whether your relationship is built on agreements or boundaries, don’t let assumptions bite you on the ass.

6 responses to “Fluid Bonding and Safe Sex

  1. I saw this article on fluid bonding and thought I’d put it put it out there for you and others to read. While not geared to poly relationships per se, it is a good general overview of fluid bonding.


    • John,
      Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately, posting an entire article in the comments is copyright infringement, so I’ve edited your comment to share the link to the original article instead.

  2. I appreciate the refresher on safety,yet how I was looking at the fluid bonding was as it would relate to the hierarchy ,say in a “triad” relationship with two males and one female,,my experience with this in reality was in a few relationships where my wife ,and later a girl friend openly ,cuckolded me,by having consentual sex with other men(we had agreement was if they had sex,conception must be used)with my wife at the time(27 years ago),,she after seeing one guy routinely for a year or so,,they became very much in love,,at first she asked that I no longer have fluid sex with her even though she was on the pill,I reluctantly agreed, then a short while after,,one night when I wished to make love to her,,she told me he had ask her,,to nolonger have sex with me,,her and I in the past had talked of sexual fantasies(we had read Nancy Friday’s..”My Sercet Garden”)..and discussed it in length..anyway,,I had mentioned a black guy ,,she worked with, I thought was sexy..she asked me then,,,by saying” since we can’t make love anymore.I will set you up with so and so at work”…I replied …”I will try ,but what if I do,,?”,her reply was”I think you might be gay,,and you will probably like him”,,so she set me up with him. He and I did become friends(he is gay) and I am not,he is a Top type,,the first time he and I had sexual contact,I knew I was a 100% fem type bottom type,,though we used condoms at first,soon (few months),we no longer where,,anyway,,I thought if I were now in a true mmf triad relationship,,I would play the fem-bottom role,,and the Lady would only have fluid exchange with the Top male,yet he could exchange fluid in me as well…just a idea..Thanks

  3. I wanted to add to my above scenario,call it if you will,..in a polyamory relationship of mmf,,I find it hard to imagine that it could be anything other then one nearly str8 male,one bi or str8 female and one fem type bottom male(whom is non-binary,third-gender etc) for example I can’t be intimate with a male,for example kissing,cuddling etc.yet I can be with a Lady

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences Mike.

      Different relationship structures work for different people. If that is the only mmf setup that you would be comfortable with, that’s what’s right for you. Other people will have other set ups that work for them.

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