In the art of love making and building intimacy the idea of consent is sometimes assumed. It can even be more alarming to think about when you are in a long-term relationship and you feel like your losing your control. Consent is the permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something, as well as, giving permission to do something.
So…. Let me tell a story.
I love drinking coffee and tea. I have many different flavors of tea and enjoy a highly caffeinated cup or should I say cups of coffee often. Although, there is a time and place for both of these beverages to be consumed there is also permission to have these drinks too. Often times the minute I wake up in the morning I am desiring something of the caffeinated sort, where as, late at night I am looking for a totally different drink all together, like tea. This is where tea, coffee and consent come together.
Imagine tea and coffee are just like sex. If I offer you a cup of coffee or tea I am asking you to engage. Now if you say YES, I would love a cup of coffee… That is wonderful, now I know what kind of beverage and potentially that your interested (consent) in me offering you coffee not tea.
Asking permission. The art of love and intimacy does have both non-verbal and verbal ways of engaging in asking for permission. It’s best to start with verbal communication when practicing consent with your partner.
Now, if I were to ask you would you like a cup of coffee and you say ummm…you are not sure… and say, “I don’t know, I am not sure”… I could go on and make that cup of coffee or I could ask them if you would prefer tea and still you say “I’m not sure.” I can make a cup of tea or coffee…. however, I cannot assume you want to drink it. Nor can I make a cup of tea or coffee if you do not want to have either. Nor should I pressure you to have this drink. If you say no, I cannot and should not make this beverage or any beverage for that matter. Nor can I get upset, irate or anger that you don’t want to drink a cup of coffee or tea.
No means no. It’s your desire on what you want. Just because someone has a desire or wants it, doesn’t mean you have to participate and go along. Even in long term, established relationships you are always able to make your choice and say yes or no. Deciding what it is you ultimately want is up to you.
Now let’s say I ask you if you want something to drink and you say, “why yes, I would love a cup of coffee.” And I go and make this cup of coffee only to hear, “on second thought, I don’t think I want to have this coffee nor do I think I want anything to drink.” I cannot get mad, just because I went to the trouble of asking you and preparing something for you to drink. Just because you said yes to my cup of coffee yesterday, doesn’t mean I can assume you want coffee today. It is not ok.
People change their minds. When it comes to consent it is best to consistently be checking in with your partner. Just because they wanted it yesterday or even every morning or night for the last week. Things change and check in’s moment by moment – minute-by-minute are vital for safe intimacy.
Whether it is tea, coffee or sex consent is everything… Take time today and really think about how crazy it sounds to force people to drink coffee when the other doesn’t want it. Couples and single people alike need this gentle reminder that asking permission opens up not only conversation but instills safety and compassion for the other. The idea is that your body, mind and spirit empowers you to make choices you want to that will be honest and safe. Consensual Sex is the best sex.
Making love not porn is an organically driven ideain the works; A movement to empower people and communities alike to start learning and talking more about sexual intimacy and respectful relationships. Please reach out and email me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.
Dr. Ryan Westrum is a sex therapist and sex positive educator and guide for couples and individuals looking to have a safe space to understand themselves and learn more about the art of intimacy. Please contact him at 952-261-5269 or email him at email@example.com .