Consent is a skill, and you can practice it (non-sexually) by:
- Asking friends if you can hug them before you hug them
- Offering people options when you first meet them (“I’m open to a hug or a handshake, whichever you’re comfortable with”)
- Asking permission to enter someone’s “bubble” (“My bag is behind your chair – mind if I get it?” or “You have a thread on your shoulder – want me to take it off for you?”)
Asking for consent is not just a good idea -- it’s necessary. Nobody is ever allowed to make you feel like you have to do something you’re not comfortable with. Touching without consent is not sex, it’s assault.
Practicing consent teaches us to be comfortable and confident saying “yes” or saying “no,” as well as being comfortable and confident hearing “yes” and hearing “no.” It makes us better listeners, better sharers, and better partners.
Some ways to practice consent (sexually):
- “I really want to _____________ you. Do you want me to?”
- “Is this okay with you?”
- “Can I take off my/your _______________?”
- “Do you like it when I _____________?”
- “What would you like me to do for you?”
Consent is (basically) permission. It extends beyond sex to any form of touch, including hugs.
- Consent means asking a person before touching them if they’d be comfortable with that touch.
- Consent is an enthusiastic, ongoing “Yes!” that is given freely, without force or manipulation or threat.
- Consent is a verbal “Yes,” not the absence of a no.
- Consent looks like smiling, laughing, and eye contact, and sounds like confidence, curiosity, and excitement.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time, which is why it’s important to check in
- Consent is not automatic just because someone is dating, they’ve done the activity before, or because they said “yes” earlier.
Sometimes people tell us that they’re worried that asking for consent will “ruin the mood.” We get it – everything that is new to us feels awkward at first. The good news is that after you’ve made it a habit, it doesn’t feel awkward anymore. It actually feels really good, and having that trust and communication opens up a whole new world of pleasure possibilities.