What is consent? You may be hearing more and more about this topic and may still have questions about the specifics of consent. For the purposes of this post, we are speaking about consent between romantic partners, whether that be a boyfriend or girlfriend, hookup, husband or wife, or even a date. Consent covers everything from holding hands to having sex. The goal in a healthy relationship is to always establish that what is happening is consensual and the best way to do that is through clear communication and boundaries.
Consent should always be verbal. Consent is not implied based on behavior, clothing, or flirting. Consent is never silent. There are simple ways to ask for consent such as:
- Is this okay?
- Are you feeling comfortable?
- Do you want to go further?
- How is this for you?
Consent should always be enthusiastic. You or your partner should never feel pressured or guilted to engage in an activity. Everyone should be on board with any activity.
Consent should always be freely given. Consent is not saying yes under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sexual activity is not truly consensual if you or your partner is not sober.
Consent can be taken back at any time. You can change your mind and decide you no longer want to engage in sexual activity. This should always be respected.
Consent is always specific. Be clear about what is okay and not okay. Communication of physical boundaries is very important here.
Consent should be asked for every time. Just because you partner agreed to an activity one day, does not mean it is still consensual. Check in with your partner to be sure he or she is comfortable and on board with what is happening. Never feel like you are required to agree to an activity to please your partner and be wary of negative reactions when consent is denied. You are not required to be sexual and should never be made to feel bad by a partner.