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How Do I Know If I Have Consent?

Scenario

Jess: "So, you wanna?"
Jess nods to upstairs.
Alex: "Do I want to have sex? Yes!"

If your partner isn't being clear, ask.

If you aren't sure you have consent, you don't have it. When choosing to kiss, hook up, or have sex, it's on you to make sure your partner(s) want to as well.

Here are ways to know you have consent:

  • You and your partner(s) have given an informed, uncoerced, verbal "yes."
  • You and your partner(s) aren't at all incapacitated
  • You and your partner(s) are of legal age

Remember, check in regularly! Consent is ongoing. Ask your partner(s) how they're doing, ask if they like what you're doing, ask for feedback! Listen for the answer.

Body Language & Consent

A lot of communication in intimate situations is nonverbal. Nonverbal cues convey our thoughts and feelings, including smiling, nodding, and touching.

When we're talking about consent, though, body language often isn't enough. Relying only on nonverbal cues during sexual activity is risky, and the stakes are too high to be wrong. It is best to rely on explicit verbal communication to make sure you have consent. Complement the verbal with all the nonverbal communication and body language you want.

*Adapted from Princeton UMatter

Gauging Consent

Signs You Should Stop

  • Your partner(s) has/have indicated that they don't want to have sex with you.
  • You are intoxicated and cannot gauge or give consent.
  • Your partner(s) is/are asleep or passed out.
  • You hope your partner(s) won't say anything and go with the flow.
  • You intend to have sex by any means necessary.
  • You or your partner are under the age of consent.

Signs You Should Pause and Talk

  • You are not sure what your partner(s) want(s).
  • You feel like you are getting mixed signals.
  • You have not talked about what you want to do.
  • You assume that you will do the same thing as before.
  • Your partner(s) stops or is/are not responsive.

Signs You Can Keep Going and Communicating

  • You and your partner(s) come to a mutual decision about how far to go.
  • You and your partner(s) clearly express comfort with the situation.
  • You feel comfortable and safe stopping at any time.

Last Updated: 3/22/16