By: Megan Graves, Columnist
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope your week is going exactly how you want it to — whether that means datin’ it up with your partner during the week, celebrating your singleness on the weekend, or just getting your homework done so you can enjoy a nice glass (or two) of wine with some close friends.
No matter what your Valentine’s plans are, I feel like it’s a good time to talk about consent again. I know that I write about consent a lot. I will continue to write about consent a lot because it’s incredibly important. And who doesn’t like to talk about sex?
It’s a fact that consent is needed in order to engage in any form of sexual activity. If you’re unsure if you need consent to do something, then you definitely need consent to do that thing. But it goes deeper. Part of consent is also being able to discuss your boundaries, and they’re not always sexual.
First off, you not only need to communicate with your partner openly about whether or not you’re going to have sex, you need to discuss what forms of sex you’re comfortable with. Maybe you’re completely fine with oral sex but really not into penetration. Maybe there are things you’d kind of like to try but feel nervous about and need to work up to them at your own pace.
But like I said, boundaries aren’t always sexual. Other boundaries within a relationship include things like PDA, touching, time spent together and privacy. You’re allowed to feel that your partner is touching you (hugging, arm around you, hand holding, kissing, etc.) too much, or that they’re texting you too much, and you 100 percent should talk about that.
All of these things are important. Don’t just sit around feeling uncomfortable. Speak up, and if your partner speaks up to you about boundaries, don’t take it personally. Understand that you’re two different people who might have different boundaries, and that’s okay!
Talk to your partner about all of this. Don’t assume anything at all within a relationship. Don’t say, “Oh, they were okay with this so they must be okay with this.”
Never, ever assume. Just talk it out!
Don’t feel shy about discussing your sexual limits and comfort zones with any person you are romantically engaging with. If they’re the type of person — a bad person — who shames you or ignores you for bringing consent up, then is that really the type of person you want to be hooking up with?
Yes, I know they’re super attractive and really into that same T.V. show as you, but if they aren’t respecting your body or even willing to talk about it, then they’re garbage, and they don’t deserve your sexy-ass self. And that’s the Truth, y’all.
Talking about what you want, like, don’t like, might like with your partner will create an honest bond between you, and, as a bonus, your sex life will be off the charts—Not only from having a clear understanding of what makes sex the best for you personally, but from the huge wave of comfort that comes with knowing your partner listened to you, respects you and won’t push your limits any more than you want them to.
I’ll also say that waiting until things are a-happenin’ might not be the best time to have these talks. Talk about it while you’re eating take-out together, when you’re watching a movie, when you’re studying together. If you don’t have the luxury of time and matters are afoot, then absolutely talk about it right then and there. You also have the right to, at any point during these a-happenin’ matters afoot, say you do not want something, that you do not like something, and that you want to stop right now. That is your right and there is no shame in that.
Own your limits. Own your body. Don’t make yourself uncomfortable for the sake of potentially keeping your partner comfortable. If your partner is someone worth being a partner, they will listen and they will stop without question.
On the other side, if your partner starts telling you they don’t like something you’re doing to them and/or their body and they want to stop, that’s a hard no to the question of consent. That means stop what you’re doing immediately. That means if you keep going, you will be sexually assaulting another person. Consent is that serious. That’s why we need to talk about it.
Always read your partner’s body. Maybe they’re saying yes, but their body is tense and they seem really uncomfortable. Whether it’s during sex or when you try to put your arm around them, that’s a good time to stop and talk.
Make your partner feel safe talking to you, and reiterate that there’s no pressure to do anything. Always reassure your partners that they never have to do anything they do not want to to, or are even just unsure of.
The best way to know if things are as good for them as they are for you is to flat out ask them: to have multiple discussions over the course of your relationship, about things sexual and otherwise, because things can change.
Understand your partner’s boundaries as well as your own. If you talk it out and really listen to what you partner is saying, I promise you’ll have the best, healthiest, out of this world relationship ever imagined. All you have to do is talk.