Consent has NOT been given if no one ever asks for it.
Consent is a must in any relationship.
In order to give approval or permission, one needs to be asked for it.
And in order to agree to anything, one needs to presented with the idea.
When we’re talking about sex and consent, we’re talking about asking someone permission to do anything sexual to them, with them, or for them, and asking if they would like to do it with whomever is asking.
No matter whether it’s between people who have had sex before or not.
Major confusion can come from not verbally asking.
Movies make it look like leaning in for the kiss is the way to go, and that once you tell someone you like them you can feel free to go for it.
But that’s not realistic. That’s how confusion happens, because that’s assuming how the other person feels.
A resounding “yes” must be communicated verbally, and that means a question needs to be asked. And it doesn’t need to be weird!
Here are a few examples of questions that ask for consent:
- “Can I kiss you?”
- “Do you want to have sex with me?”
Whether it’s sex or a kiss or a touch or anything sexual, just ask first. It’s not weird and it’s not cheesy. It’s necessary.
Check in while sexy times are happening.
In the heat of the moment, your hand goes under their shirt or into their pants. And now you’re freaked out. How can you be sure they’re okay with this?!
You ask if they like it, or if it’s okay. Trust me — if it is, they’ll tell you!
Here are a few ways to check in while things are happening.
- “May I try…?”
- “Would you like if we did…?”
You may have heard these suggestions as well:
- “Do you like this?”
- “Is this okay?”
These are okay, but I like the first two best because Instead of asking if something is okay while it’s already being done, you’re suggesting the idea first and asking for permission to do it.
Another way to ask for consent is to make a suggestion or statement, and let the other person say if they are comfortable with the idea.
- “I want to have sex with you.”
- “I really want to kiss you right now.”
If someone says “no,” it means they are not approving of something, they are not agreeing to do it or allow it, and they are not giving permission for it to happen or be done. And if someone says yes, it means that they are.
If they don’t say anything, DON’T DO IT. Do not assume that their silence is a yes!
Make sure the other person is comfortable saying no.
Many people say yes because they are afraid of saying no.
While reading body language is very important — I’ll get into this in a bit — it’s also important to let the other person know that if they do say no, you will respect that and you are okay with it.
If the other person hesitates when you ask for consent, you can comfort them by saying directly, “It’s okay if you’d rather not. What would you like instead?” or something along those lines. This works well for asking anything, whether it’s in the middle of things or before it happens.
Even better: before any sexual situation, ensure that your partner is aware that you respect boundaries. In a relevant conversation, say that you don’t like the idea of making someone uncomfortable and that you expect the same. Talking about boundaries will let them know that they won’t be in a scary situation and also shows that you respect how they feel. Super important! It may open up the conversation to more specific ideas as well, for everyone involved.
Truly respect the other person’s answer.
If you’re making the other person feel comfortable enough to say no, you absolutely must be prepared to respect the no if you receive it!
Rejection isn’t pleasant, and that’s understandable. In any situation where someone changes their mind (literally about anything!) someone is going to be a little upset or unhappy.
But don’t try to change the other person’s mind — a no is a no, and that would be the same if the situation were reversed.
Sex involves at least two people, so consent goes both ways, and it happens from beginning to end.
If the other person changes their mind, it should be respected. Stay within their comfort zone. Pushing boundaries in sex can be fun, as you can discover new things about each other together and share a fun experience as you do so, but it should always be discussed ahead of time so that everyone involved knows what’s going on. Pushing boundaries should never be something only one person wants to do.
Body language matters.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
Reading body language is not something everyone is good at, which is why I want to talk about this.
If someone asks for consent and gets a verbal yes, everything should be smooth sailing, right?
Because, and this is VERY important: people can change their minds.
That’s why asking for consent during any sexual encounter is so important.
Even after consent has been given, everyone involved needs to pay attention to body language.
If someone is physically resisting (for example, pushing you away, closing their legs, trying not to move), or hesitating (not excited, not paying attention to you, or looking away), it might be time to ask for consent again.
It’s really simple! Just check in.
Here are a few ways to ask throughout a sexual encounter:
- “Is everything okay?”
- “Would you like to do something else?”
- “Is this uncomfortable?”
- “Should I stop?”
- “Are you okay?”
- “Do you want to keep going?”
Sex by nature is vulnerable and intimate, so these are questions that the people involved should be absolutely comfortable asking — even if it’s a one-night stand. In fact, this is even more important in a one-night stand! These are situations where people don’t usually communicate with each other.
Being direct is the best way to deal with consent! (And asking what the other person likes is key to having better sex, too! *wink, wink*)
Sex should be fun, not scary.
Stick with what all parties are comfortable with, and it will be a much better time than if people are doing things they don’t want to!
- Consent needs to be asked for verbally, not assumed.
- Check in during sexy fun times, not just before.
- You must let the other person know that it’s okay to say no.
- Respect the other person’s answer & their choice to change their mind.
- Body language is important, as is asking for consent throughout the experience.
- Have fun!