Healthy relationships and consent

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Healthy Relationships and Consent

When many people think of the word ‘consent’ and why it matters, sexual assault and rape is what often comes to mind. As important as this is, what is less often discussed is that consent is also a fundamental part of a healthy relationship.

Due to consent within relationships not being as heavily discussed, some people have experienced nonconsensual sex with a partner, this isn’t okay. Just because you are in a relationship, even a long term one, does not mean that you give up your right to give consent. In a relationship consent should always be discussed; no one should just assume that someone has given their consent.

Remember you always have the right to say no. No one can assume someone has given consent. There is nothing wrong with having regular check-ins with your partner, to make sure the both of you are happy. Just because someone gives consent to something one time, does not mean that they will give consent every time and everyone is entitled to change their mind.

What should consent look like?
– A verbal ‘Yes’
– No coercion involved
– Enthusiasm

What consent does not look like
– No
– Doubt
– Unclear answer
– Reluctance
– Them not being able to consent in the first place – i.e. being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, being unconscious, or being asleep.

We’ve established you should always have consent when it comes to do anything sexual, no matter your relationship status. But how do you ask for it? For many the idea may feel awkward or daunting, especially if you are just starting a relationship. This doesn’t have to be a straight up ‘can we have sex?’ You can ask for consent in a variety of ways:

– ‘Are you sure…?’
– ‘Is this okay?’
– ‘Can I…?’
– ‘Do you want to…?’

Not only is consent necessary in a healthy relationship but it is a legal requirement; it may feel awkward at first but it will soon feel comfortable or even fun. Asking shows you care and will prevent you from hurting your partner.

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