Once you understand what consent is, you know you have to explicitly seek it out. But how do you do that? Luckily, asking for consent is way easier than you might think. Asking permission to do something demonstrates respect and a willingness to adhere to another’s boundaries.
How to Ask:
- Be direct by naming or describing the act clearly - “Can I kiss/touch/whatever you?”
- Frame it as a question of preference – “What do you want to do?”
- Ask open-ended questions as a way of starting an ongoing dialogue about what you each want.
- Make sure you’re leaving space for your partner(s) to respond freely and giving them a legitimate option to say IF, WHEN, and HOW they want to do something.
- Asking can be easier and more natural if you talk about boundaries beforehand, including wants and limits.
- Frequently checking-in with your partner(s) ensures everyone is on the same page and is often welcomed as a sign of respect and caring.
- Set aside the notion of “getting” consent and consider what it might mean to mutually generate consent mutually with your partner(s)
- Be clear about your expectations and boundaries so as to avoid confusion or unintentional pressure. Saying what you do and don't want sexually can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but like most things, it gets easier. Consider these tips on setting healthy boundaries.
- If you do receive a “no,” accept it the first time. Don’t proceed or pressure them. They’re declining the sexual act, not you. Appreciate that they've trusted you enough to tell you what they really want. Learn more about how to respect someone else’s boundaries.