This post was originally published by The Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center. It has been edited for republication here.
Consent is about more than sex. It’s about showing respect for your partner and their body, and it’s an integral part of healthy relationships. Consent isn’t just a legal concept: it should be central to every romantic or sexual encounter you have. When consent is missing from sex and dating, trust can be eroded, and feelings may be hurt—and sometimes worse things happen too. If you’re unsure whether someone has consented to something or is concerned that someone is coercing them into doing something sexual they don’t want to do, then this guide is for you!
Consent is sexy.
While you may be tempted to think that consent is “just a word,” it’s not. It’s a symbol of respect, trust, and love. For example: if I asked for your consent before kissing you or holding your hand, that would show me that we share an intimate connection and that I care about your boundaries.
By getting someone’s consent before engaging in sexual activity, you’re showing them that they matter enough to ensure their comfort and safety—otherwise, why would you want to do anything with them?
It’s clear from this simple example why consent matters so much: it’s one of the most fundamental ways we can demonstrate our mutual desire as human beings with each other.
You can’t tell someone’s consent status based on their sexual orientation.
There is no reliable way to determine someone’s consent status by looking at their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This is because a person’s sexuality, gender, or gender identity—are not an indicator of whether they are giving consent to another person.
When we look at how people express themselves through clothing or makeup, it can seem like there are clear distinctions between men and women or between masculine and feminine-presenting people. However, these are just societal expectations based on our experiences with dominant cultures (i.e., Western society). There are many other ways that people choose to express their gender: some wear makeup every day; others don’t; some women have short hair while others grow theirs long; some men wear dresses because they like that style while others don’t care what they wear as long as it makes them feel good! And none of these choices affect whether someone wants to have sex with you!
Even when two people say “yes” at the same time about having sex together (but only after asking each other first), there could still be problems later down the road. If trust becomes damaged because one partner felt pressured into saying “yes” instead of genuinely feeling comfortable saying so voluntarily before making any moves together sexually…
There is no such thing as implied consent.
If you’re unsure if someone is giving consent, don’t assume they are. There is no such thing as implied consent. If someone is uncertain about something and wants to talk about it, they will tell you by saying “no.” Every time.
Your partner’s “yes” in the past doesn’t mean they will consent now or in the future.
You can’t emphasize the importance of getting verbal consent when supporting. Your partner’s “yes” or “no” shouldn’t be taken as a static agreement; it’s an ongoing process that should be discussed throughout sexual activity.
A person who had given consent before (for example, they said yes last time you asked) doesn’t mean they will provide it again in the future. If someone asks for sex, don’t assume that because they said yes once before, they will say yes again. The same goes for any other kind of sexual touch—if your partner says no to something tonight, then ask if their feelings might change tomorrow or next week; if so, come back with another request!
To be valid, consent must be given freely and with knowledge.
- Consent must be given freely and without coercion. Any form of manipulation or intimidation is not consent. This can include verbal pressure, implied threats, blackmailing, or any other means that interfere with your ability to make an informed decision about what you want to do.
- Consent must be given with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding sexual activity. Some things you may want to know before giving consent: what will happen (oral sex, vaginal intercourse); where it will happen (in my dorm room? In public?); who else might witness this act (my roommate? Our friends?); if there are any risks involved (STIs, pregnancy).
- Consent must be given with knowledge of the outcome for both parties involved in a sexual encounter/relationship—including possible pregnancy and STIs and emotional trauma associated with certain acts such as penetration or oral sex performed on men or women. This includes understanding how alcohol consumption affects one’s ability to give consent; while having sex when intoxicated may seem like fun at the time, there’s always a potential risk involved in engaging in sexual activity while under the influence.
Sexual and romantic relationships should be based on mutual willingness, not coercion or obligation.
Consent is the process of permitting something to happen. It’s an ongoing dialogue between you and your partner, where you check in with each other throughout the relationship to ensure that both parties are still happy with whatever is happening. Consent isn’t just a one-time thing—it’s an ongoing conversation!
Consent is not the absence of a “no” or “yes.” Your partner can say no to any activity, even if they consent. And it’s not only okay but also imperative that you respect your partner’s boundaries and don’t push them into doing anything they aren’t comfortable with. If your partner says no, respect their wishes when attempting sexual acts or expressing affection in other ways—even if this makes you feel uncomfortable or frustrated. Your needs aren’t more important than theirs; make sure that your desires align with your partner’s before proceeding further together sexually or romantically.
I hope this article helped you understand the importance of discussing consent with your partner. We all want to be good people and make sure our partners are happy, but we must remember that it takes more than just saying “yes” to have a healthy relationship. If you’re having trouble communicating with your partner or they don’t seem to be into what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to stop and ask them if everything is okay! You can start by asking them how comfortable they are with certain activities—this will help you communicate better about what does or doesn’t feel good for each other so that no one feels pressured into doing anything they aren’t comfortable with.