Information on Sex and Relationships
What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship can take on many forms but should always be based on respect, honesty, trust, and communication. There are many different types of relationships, spanning from committed, casual, to open. If all individuals involved are in mutual agreement of all established boundaries, then it can help facilitate a healthy relationship. All healthy relationships have their ups and downs, but verbal abuse, emotional abuse (also referred to as psychological or mental abuse), physical abuse, controlling behaviors, and sexual abuse are never part of a healthy relationship. A balanced relationship should make all parties involved feel good.
Should we have sex?
Sex is a very personal decision. Prior to all instances and any type of sexual activity, sexual consent needs to be established and applied. Sexual consent is actively agreeing to engage in any kind of sexual activity. All individuals involved must communicate and reach mutual respect prior to initiating any sex. It allows individuals discuss each other’s wants and comfort when it comes to certain sexual acts to make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Consent should be clearly indicated and obvious. When establishing consent, it should be free of any sexual pressure. It should also be noted that giving consent once does not mean giving consent for all future activities. Consent is essential in every single instance and all steps of the way that you are intimate with someone. It is always better to ask outright rather than assume, even with regular partners. An individual can change their mind and withdraw consent at any stage! You do not need a reason for it either. Your partner should respect your decision and stop immediately. Even in committed relationships or marriage, it does not allow a partner the right to freely do whatever they want to do. Both partners must consent to every and each type of activity.
How does consent work ‘in the moment’?
Communication is key in sexual consent. It can be portrayed in many ways.
- Asking your partner, “is this okay”?
- Affirming an act by saying, “I’d like to try that.”
- Using physical cues like a nod and/or a smile to let your partner know that you are comfortable
- Saying words of affirmation or giving reassurance
A partner should not let their worries of ‘ruining the mood’ get in the way of asking for consent. It is important to practice good communication in every sexual act. With more practice, the easier it will get.
What is lack of consent?
Any sexual activity that is heeded without consent is wrong and illegal. If consent is not given and a partner forces the other into sex, it is not okay, and the victim should speak to someone they trust for help and support in this difficult situation.
The following situations are ways in which consent is NOT given:
- Ignoring someone’s rejection, or “no”, and carrying on
- Assuming that certain clothing attire, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for sex
- An individual that is under the legal age of consent
- An individual that is not able to coherently make an informed decision due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Pressuring, intimidating, or shaming someone to have sex with them
- Assuming there is consent because it was given in the past
Saying “no” can come in many forms. An individual may say “not right now”, “I’m not sure”, or stay silent. Body language and physical cues may also signal “no”. This includes facing away, pushing away, curling up, or responding negatively to touch. Any display of reluctance should be an indication that consent is not given, and sex should not ensue.