"The day my new boyfriend got an STI text from his ex."

Imagine you’re on your first weekend away with a shiny new boyfriend.

You’ve barely had time to savour your first avocado and poached eggs of the trip (with a side of haloumi, to really destroy any chance of property ownership) when out of nowhere he gets a text from a sexual health messaging service telling him he may have an STI (Sexually Transmissible Infection) and he should get tested.

It sounds like one of those delicious yet over-the-top Sex and the City scenarios that never actually happen in real life, doesn’t it? Except, it did happen. To me. I was Carrie and this was my post-it note.

In a split second my admirably transparent Shiny New Boyfriend (SNB) hands me his phone so I can absorb the gravity of the message myself.

sti boyfriend
"In a split second my admirably transparent Shiny New Boyfriend (SNB) hands me his phone so I can absorb the gravity of the message myself." Image via iStock.

There it is in glaring iPhone 3 technicolour:

From: Let Them Know

 [Partner’s name], my Gonorrhoea test is positive. I'm concerned you may be at risk. Please get a test. See

This has to be a joke. We click on the link. Let Them Know - helping people who have been diagnosed with Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, etc to tell their sexual partners that they might also be at risk. It’s annoyingly legitimate. My millennial breakfast had been going so well.

Surely it’s been sent to the wrong number. People really need to be more careful when they’re punching in the digits, I scoff. But wait, it addresses SNB by his first name. Coincidence?


SNB’s mates quickly become prime suspects. They know we’re on our first weekend away and evidently couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw a sexually transmitted spanner in the works.

SNB sends screenshot of STI message to said friends on WhatsApp. Ha Ha. Whose brainchild is this?

The WhatsApp thread blows up. This kind of evil genius requires research, imagination and clear vision (I later learned it requires no more than someone entering a phone number into a website – how is it more people aren’t misusing this?).

The mastermind responsible is bound to step forward and mark their place in the hall of fame of modern prankery.

But no one does.

Eventually, one observant friend points to a woman’s name at the bottom of the text. In our Gonorrheoa-induced trance, SNB and I had completely missed it. I’m going to call her ‘Lou Lou’.

The name matches up. She was a (recent-ish) past fling of SNB and she had chosen the less comfortable option of putting her name to this virtual heads-up in an attempt to add legitimacy to its contents. You know, in case the recipient gets some paranoid idea his friends are playing a practical joke. There was an anonymous option but Lou Lou hadn’t taken it.

I was conflicted. A girl from SNB’s past so abruptly made her way into our present and was now dictating our immediate future. And she’d picked our first weekend away together to do it.

boyfriend STI text
"As deeply inconvenient as it felt, I had to admire her courage and just how grown up the whole thing was." Image via iStock.

She has bloody terrible timing. Excellent taste in men but terrible timing.

As deeply inconvenient as it felt, I had to admire her courage and just how grown up the whole thing was.

Regardless of how fleeting a relationship is most of us will go to great lengths to appear prosperous to an ex. Ideally that path to prosperity doesn’t involve owning up to an STI to stop past sexual partners passing it on to other unsuspecting women. But that’s where Lou Lou had found herself and she took the high road.

It was a courtesy – a courtesy that should always be extended but one that would have brought painstaking levels of embarrassment. She had nothing to gain and lots to lose - but she did it anyway.

I suddenly developed a strange respect for this Lou Lou character. I’m not thrilled she had relations with SNB (naturally in my head I was his only ever girlfriend) but there was something classy in what she had done.

I will never meet her or have the opportunity to tell her I rate her lady balls (let’s be honest, that would be weird) but from afar I figured she had at least earned herself some good relationship karma.

I wondered if I too would act as selflessly in a similar situation.

Needless to say SNB and I took in a lot of galleries and sporting events that weekend.

Sex with Strangers, Electronic Cheating and Dating for the Shy. Post continues...

The moral of this story is definitely not to use an STI alert service as a vehicle for pranks on innocent friends. In fact, misusing it could have potentially serious legal consequences and it’s just a bit shit. But if you do find yourself in Lou Lou’s shoes, there is a mature, safe way to let an old partner, and their new one, know they might want to check their privates. And chances are they will both be grateful for it.

When SNB and I returned home, we both got tested and were given the all clear. In hindsight, it’s possible Lou Lou was actually a deranged ex on a one-woman mission to sabotage our weekend. If that was your modus operandi, Lou Lou, well played and the Melbourne arts community thanks you.

The more likely reality, however, is of a woman who chose to do the right thing, even if it wasn’t the easy thing. And that should be applauded. Terrible timing excluded.

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