Consent is the most important part of any sexual encounter, and everyone needs to make sure that all parties involved are willing and enthusiastic before getting to the fun stuff. Sometimes consent isn’t as clear cut as yes or no, so check out these six ways to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that everyone is keen to get a bit frisky.
1. Ask directly.
It goes without saying that one of the most effective ways to confirm consent is to simply ask the other person if they're comfortable and want to be a part of what's happening. This can be as simple as saying, "Is this okay?" or "Do you want to keep going?" If the other person is hesitant or unsure, stop! Respect their boundaries and don’t pressure them into doing anything they're not 100% okay with.
2. Look for nonverbal cues.
While verbal communication is important, you should also pay close attention to nonverbal cues, like body language and physical gestures. If the other person is tense, can’t make eye contact or seems disinterested, it's a good idea to stop and check in with them.
3. Be respectful of boundaries.
Consent is not a one-time thing; it's ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time. The same goes for boundaries. Just because your partner was okay with doing something once doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to want to do it again, and if they tell you they don’t like being touched in a certain way or want to go slow from now on, listen. If they say no or show signs of discomfort, stop immediately and make sure they're okay.
4. Be aware of the potential for coercion.
Coercion is when someone is pressured or manipulated into doing something they don't want to do. You might not even realise you’re doing it, or that the other person is. Saying things like ‘But I can’t cum if we don’t do this’ or ‘Don’t you want me to do X, you usually like it’ or continuing to touch someone after they’ve told you to stop because you think they’re just playing (thanks for that Hollywood) can all be forms of coercion. You should always be aware of the potential for coercion in any sexual encounter and avoid pressuring or manipulating the other person into doing something they're not comfortable with.
5. Understand the effects of alcohol and drugs.
Alcohol and drugs can impair a person's ability to make informed decisions, including decisions about consent. If one or both of you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, be extra cautious and check in with the other person to make sure they're able to give consent. If they’re slurring, can’t keep their eyes open, keep repeating themselves or seem out of it, either put them to bed or make sure they get home safely and check in with them in the morning!
6. Keep checking in throughout!
Remember that consent is ongoing. As we said before, consent is not a one-time thing; it's ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time. It's important to keep checking to make sure everyone is willingly participating, plus it’s always sexy to be asked ‘do you like that?’.
Do you have any other tips for confirming consent? Let us know in the comments!