What Is Consent in a Relationship?
If you’re looking for a clear answer to what is consent, the first thing you will need to know is that it’s about mutually respecting yourself and the other person you are getting consent from.
When someone gives you their consent, it means they are permitting you or agreeing to express something with you!
- Consent cannot be assumed just because someone is silent, hasn’t said the word ‘no,’ or because the sexual partners have a relationship or sexual past together.
- Consent may be revoked at any time.
- Force, threat, or intimidation are not acceptable methods for obtaining consent.
- A person who is in any way incapacitated cannot give consent.
Before diving into this topic, there are a few things to remember when having sexual relations with someone.
What is Consent?
Sexual consent means agreeing to participate in a specific sexual activity. Before being sexual with another person, you will need to know if they truly want to be sexual with you as well. On the other side, make sure you’ve communicated what you want with your partner before initiating intercourse or any other sexual activity.
Both consenting and asking for one serve to encourage people to set their own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. Also, it serves to check if everything is clear and, if not, to communicate it properly before sex. Both partners must give sexual consent each time before engaging in sexual activity for the sex to be considered consensual.
Without sexual consent, any sexual activity, from oral sex or genital touching to vaginal or anal penetration, is considered sexual assault or rape. You have every right to decide what happens to your body. It doesn’t matter if you were up for it ten minutes ago and even said ‘yes’ to your sexual partner; you can change your mind freely. Every person is allowed to say “stop” at any time before and during sexual activity, and their partner must respect it.
You have to be a person that is comfortable and gracious about receiving a no. That is what consent is. If you guilt someone, or pressure them when they say “no,” that is not consensual. That is covertly manipulating a situation to get your needs met.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Who can consent to sexual activity is regulated by law. Someone who is drunk, high, or passed out cannot consent sexually. Minors are protected from sexual activity with adults. Meaning, sex with a minor resulted in jail time and sex offender registration.
Despite their legal definitions, rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse all begin with lack of consent. All of these involve unconsented sexual contact. This means that sexual contact without consent is rape, assault, or abuse.
Anyone can be a victim of rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, regardless of their age, gender, or sexual orientation. That said, certain groups of people are more likely than others to experience sexual assault. We particularly want to recognize that women of color, LGBTIA+ individuals, and those with developmental disabilities are more likely to experience sexual assault.
There are numerous ways in which sexual violence can occur. Rape or sexual assault can occur without a weapon, and the victim does not have to fight back, scream, or say ‘no’. Our most common image is of sexual assaults in dark alleyways with strangers, even though that is rare. Family, relatives, and romantic partners often are the perpetrator.
If you or anyone you know has experienced any type of sexual violence, keep in mind that you’re not alone and that help is available to all victims of sexual violence.
How to Ask For Consent
Most of the time, you’ll hear people talking about giving consent before a certain sexual activity. However, asking for consent is equally important in communication between two individuals who will become sexual partners. Both partners need to give their consent to have sex.
Openly discussing consent with your partner is best. Request it in multiple formats. Instead of saying the same thing over and over, ask your partner if they are ready to engage in sexual activity, and then confirm with them if they are comfortable with how things went later.
Asking for consent does not have to slow down or diminish sexual desire. While communicating and being intimate with your partner, you can request consent. Although consent is required before any sexual activity, make an effort to communicate with the person you are getting to know more about. If you are about to have sex with your long-term partner, you probably already know whether or not they want to have sex at that particular time. However, asking for consent implies consent from both partners in a relationship.
How to Give Consent
Like asking for consent, you should give your consent to your partner. That will inform them that you agree to continue being sexually intimate with them and give them the ‘green light’ to proceed. You are not, nevertheless, required to wait for your partner to inquire whether you are enjoying the foreplay. In other words, a person can give consent without waiting for their partner to ask for it.
Informing your partner that you consent to having sex with them helps you both be transparent about your sexual desires and allows you to connect sexually. However, don’t confuse giving consent with receiving it. You will still need to hear your partner say they are okay with moving things forward sexually to continue with a certain sexual activity. Once both partners have given their consent, you can proceed with sex and make the most of it together.
About Life Coaching and Therapy
Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a therapy and coaching practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible. Multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systematically-trained and licensed therapists!
Get to know our founder and owner, Amanda Pasciucco, (a.k.a. The Sex Healer) PhD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist (CST) that has developed innovative therapy programs and therapy videos that get results.
Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help all clients who visit us for a variety of personal, relationship, intimacy and sex problems.
LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs.
Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do.