Scarleteen, sex ed for the real world


How often have YOU actively sought consent in your sex life?

I'm a woman: I have always actively sought consent with partners.
22% (370 votes)
I'm a man: I have always actively sought consent with partners.
18% (294 votes)
I identify differently than man/woman: I have always actively sought consent with partners.
3% (47 votes)
I'm a woman: I have sometimes actively sought consent, sometimes have not.
12% (195 votes)
I'm a man: I have sometimes actively sought consent, sometimes have not.
5% (83 votes)
I identify differently than man/woman: I have sometimes actively sought consent, sometimes have not.
1% (22 votes)
I'm a woman: I have rarely actively sought consent.
4% (71 votes)
I'm a man: I have rarely actively sought consent.
4% (74 votes)
I identify differently than man/woman: I have rarely actively sought consent.
1% (12 votes)
I have not yet/ever had sexual partners of any kind.
30% (497 votes)
Total votes: 1665


Seeking consent

I always actively seek consent, and have check-ins along the way ("Do you like that?", "Do you want to try it this way?", "What position do you want to try?" etc). I find that the point during which the condom comes out during heterosexual encounters is critical for me, because it is posed as a question like, "Do you want to get a condom out?" I find that it is a good opening to say "No", and explain if one person is not ready, doesn't want to have sex at all, or just wants to engage in outercourse, kissing, cuddling, manual stimulation, or other non-penetrative activities. [Having previously agreed on always using a condom during penetration.]
For engaging in activities without barrier methods, the check-in wouldn't necessarily be so obvious or built in.
Even though I actively seek consent from my partners, I have struggled in the past to verbalize my own lack of consent, because it wasn't being actively sought out. It has been hard for me to speak up and say that I just want to kiss, but not have sex, or that I do want to have sex, just not immediately. I have felt guilty for "being a tease", and reluctant to enforce my boundaries even with people who I felt respected me. I think it's necessary for all partners to be verbal about what's going on, everyone doing the check-ins and expressing how they feel.
I have noticed that I don't initiate sex nearly as often as my partners do and I find that problematic. Our sex drives are not wildly different. I don't know if I unconsciously wait for my partners to transition our activities to sex, or if it just takes me longer to be ready for the transition and they happen to bring it up first. I wonder if my partners feel responsible for initiating sex, or think that I expect them to do it since I hardly ever make "the first move". I am usually the one to initiate conversations about comfort levels and things of that nature, and I wonder if/why my partners are afraid to start those conversations. We are going to talk about it and hopefully I'll find out.

    Wrapped up

    I have a tendency to get so caught up in what I'm doing I'll just keep doing my thing, unless he stops me. But even if I didn't get so focused, I don't think I'd like asking every time I do anything... I feel like, he's here with me. If I do something he doesn't like, he'll stop me. Giving him time to think about it when I ask "Is it okay if I XXX" would kind of kill the mood, I think...

      Why do you think you feel

      Why do you think you feel that way?

      Let me suggest an alternate scenario: I am eating an incredible piece of cake and am totally absorbed in the experience.

      If someone asks me if I like it ("Oh, yes!"), if I want more of it ("Have another slice ready please!"), or would I like some ice cream on it ("OMG, that would be even MORE awesome!"), how would it kill the mood of my enjoyment and desire to keep eating cake?

      When we like what we're doing, we're usually happy to affirm that and it's hardly an intrusion. And if we don't like doing something, or aren't totally into something, it's really important we're provided openings to express that. Not everyone or every dynamic creates that without words, and sometimes someone being so into where they're at without check-ins can create a situation where it doesn't feel like we really have that opening, you know?

      Mind, you say "he" so I assume you're talking about one person and unique relationship where you two have already talked about all this and found out, and agreed, that the way you're doing things now works just fine for you. That can be, it just might not be -- and often won't be -- with every person and relationship, especially early on.

        I'm a woman and I always

        I'm a woman and I always actively seek consent, but it annoys my girlfriend. I don't understand, she's been assaulted before and yet she gets mad at me when I go out of my way to make sure I don't assault her.


          To be clearer about that, I've been very clear that no is a sexy answer :-) and I've asked in very mellow ways, but until she changed her entire religion (!) she had a lot of trouble with answering clearly at all, without becoming extremely nervous. I still don't understand what the psychology was.

            I have actually had this problem too

            My partner being uncomfortable with actually answering clear consent questions. She's getting better at it. But she started out having real trouble with it.

            I'm male.

            Might be worth discussing as a problem.

              What's "actively sought consent" mean?

              To make sure it's clear, we mean that you have made an active, concerted effort to be sure that whatever you do or initiate sexually, your partner also wants to be doing that and is okay with; with you asking verbally and/or clearly communicating in other ways, and doing so without coercion or other manipulation.

              For more on consent, see: Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent.


                Consent is sexy. It would not occur to me to *not* ask consent before doing something with a partner. It doesn't have to be awkward and formal. "Do you want me to touch you?" can be said in awesome, sexy ways. "Is it OK if I __?" can be a major turn on. And it makes sure that everyone is on the same page during sex. Some days your partner may just really not want to do something that they usually do. How are you to know unless you ask? It's not a bad thing.

                Mmmm, consent.

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