The dating culture in today’s world is changing at a lightning speed especially with the easy availability of technology. And when things come THAT easy, sometimes it’s difficult slow down and take time to gauge the other person’s interests. Human behaviour is complex and to avoid overstepping someone’s boundaries both parties should be on the same page. So yes, consent is necessary!
Consent in dating and relationships is the mutual agreement of partners to perform sexual activities including kissing. Just because someone is friendly and flirty doesn’t mean an automatic yes. Inversely if a person is shy and quiet, doesn’t mean a definite no. Consenting has a wider scope than simply granting permission; real consent is clear and enthusiastic!
Consent can be in the shape of clearly stating desire. For some people it is attractive (also a safe play for the other party) to stop mid sentence and say something like “I’m going to kiss you now”. It gives the other person a chance to show whether they are into it or not, and being an imperative sentence it won’t kill the mood (a buzz kill for some people). Ensure your partner is enthusiastically picking your cues though!
Consent through body language. If you’ve been on a couple dates with someone (provided you can read basic body cues), ease into the position of intimacy and wait on the other person to follow lead. If they are interested they will “show” you through body language, eye movement, and through their lips.
Unfortunately awkwardness is a part of consent sometimes. But you can make it sexy! Once a gentleman once came close to me in middle of the conversation and leaned in, only to stop a short distance from my face and gaze at me. That was my cue, my invite and an “ask” for consent. It was very, very charming and respectable way of asking, rendering my decision to move ahead – final.
Being able to read the body language and attitude of people is a huge life saver if you’re not comfortable talking. Consent can be non-verbal but should be taken slow. For example, you could halve the distance between you and the other person and then wait on them, if they are interested they’d meet you midway and there is your answer! But definitely do not do this if it’s your first time with them. For most people first kisses are very special and verbal communication should lead the way.
The general rule of the thumb is to feel out situation when with someone. Non-verbal consent needs such a mental checklist.
- The 90/10 rule – If you lean in 90%, does the other person come the 10%?
- Is your partner comfortable with other forms of touch, like hand-holding, hugs, arm around the back, and close body contact?
- Do they apologize while accidently touching you? Judge their reciprocity.
- Do they enjoy simple touches of the hand or arm? Are they still smiling and engaging in conversation after the touch?
- Do they linger after a hug?
In case of surprise kisses, let them not be a total surprise. Make a judgement on your present chemistry with a person. Is the other party expecting it from you? No one wants to be the recipient of an unwanted kiss; it can be totally counterintuitive if the other person is the kind to take things slow.
Simply Asking. Before kissing, you can simply ask “Can I kiss you?” If this is too awkward or a mood killer to you, flip the script! Say “You can kiss me if you want”. Or be cheesy and indirectly imply that you’re up for kissing and let the other person move in! Consent doesn’t have to sound like filling out forms; it can be exciting, flirty, and fun. It gives you a better idea of what the other person is up for, creates a comfortable and trusting atmosphere.
Some people have a protective aura about them. For them intimacy includes the clothed areas of the body. In this case it’s best to verbally ask for approval. Let them take initiative. You don’t want to plant a genuine kiss on someone only for them to feel yucky and cheap!
Few questions that one can ask to take physical intimacy to the next level:
- Do you want to go further?
- Are you comfortable if I go ahead?
- Do you want to stop here?
- Do you want to keep going?
- Is this making you happy?
Implied Consent. Some people are walking a fine line when they say things like “They wanted it too because they agreed to go out on a date with me!” Umm, not really. Just because someone is having dinner/drinks with you doesn’t mean they are ready for physical intimacy right away.
Also, don’t assume consent when a person is intoxicated. “Drunken Sex” is a dangerous territory. If either party after getting back to their senses withdraws consent, it can quickly turn to Sexual Assault.
Consent is Ongoing. While levelling up in a physical relationship, at every stage of the sexual encounter, consent has to be asked for. And an “explicit permission” is necessary when it’s your first time having sex with someone. To test waters you can pause between the act and check if the other person is feeling safe in that moment to pursue further. Remember, consent can be withdrawn at any time because people’s mind can change anytime!
Consent Should not be Pressured. It has to be a voluntary activity, otherwise it’s coercion. No one is obliged to participate in things they are not okay with!
Whether someone gives you consent or not can at times have more to do the place you’re at than their feelings towards you. Many people do not enjoy PDA but will be a sport in a private setting.
Not to complicate things too much, if you don’t get a vibe saying “Please Kiss Me For God’s Sake!” or if you have any doubts, just ask. You’re one question away from starting something beautiful!
Have you ever felt consent was missing in any of your experiences?
Tell us in the comments section below.