20 ways to ask for consent
What is consent? In this day and age, it’s easy to assume you know what “consent” means and how important it is in creating a safe, exciting, and pleasurable sexual experience. But, if you’re not sure what consent really means or where the lines get blurry, I like this viral video about tea as a clear explainer. You might remember it (it was super popular in like 2015, I think), but it goes something like this: if you offer someone a cup of tea and they reply “no thanks,” “I’m not sure,” “maybe,” or anything else but “yes, I’d love some tea!” you’re not going to make them the tea. It’s that simple. Now swap out the word tea for sex.
If you’re reading this then you know that consent is important. Yay! But it can be confusing to know whether you’re actually asking or being asked for consent. It might feel like a mood killer to literally say “Can I have your consent to do XYZ.”
We totally get that, so here are 20 alternatives that will not ruin the mood, but even enhance it. How do you ask for consent?
- Can I kiss you?
- How does this feel?
- Is this okay?
- I really want to do XYZ to you…
- Do you want to do this?
- Can I take this off?
- Do you like how this feels?
- How do you like this?
- Want to try XYZ?
- Is it okay if I touch you here?
- I’ve been thinking about XYZ all night, what do you think?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Should I keep going?
- Can I do XYZ to you?
- Do you want to get a condom?
- How would you feel if I did XYZ?
- What kind of stuff do you like?
- What turns you on?
- What makes you come?
- Would it be okay if I…
In addition to using your words, it’s really important to pay attention to any nonverbal cues from your partner. Are they having fun, engaging, communicating, and enthusiastic to be there? If you’re doubting any of the answers to these questions, that means you do not have their enthusiastic consent and it’s time to stop whatever you’re doing and check in.
As you get to know your partner, it’s important to discuss and get in touch with how you’re both feeling. Asking for consent and giving consent doesn’t have to be a clinical and awkward thing, it can be fun, playful, and even sexy. Talking about sex and what you’re doing with each other in terms of consent can also be a gateway into dirty talk, which deserves an article on its own.
Have fun and be safe! And remember the golden rule, if it’s not an enthusiastic yes, it’s a big fat no.