Consent and Communication

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Consent is really important during anything sexual. Sex without consent isn’t actually considered sex, it’s rape.  Hypothetically, one would think we could vocalize what we want, when we want it and when we don’t want it. However, in the moment it may not be as clear to us. This is why communication is such a key part to consent and to sex in general.

At Planned Parenthood, we like to break down consent using FRIES:

Freely Given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, Specific. Consent is freely given and never under coercion or intoxication. It is reversible, meaning you are able to change your mind at any time and have that choice be respected. You should be informed, aware, and comfortable with what you are consenting to. Consent should be enthusiastic and wholehearted, not partial. Lastly, consent should be specific about certain acts, positions, time frames, etc. It is okay to consent to some things and not others, and it is okay to realize you do not want something or want something different.

Being able to confidently communicate all this in the moment can be hard. It is important to trust your partner or partners as you explore your sexual likes and dislikes. If you find it hard to communicate during sex, try setting some time aside in a non-sexual setting to talk about what you like, dislike or things you’d like to try. This may take some pressure off the conversation or remove the fear of “killing the mood.” Remember to listen to your partner or partners’ wants and boundaries as well. Their needs are just as important as yours, as sex is a two-way street. It may feel awkward at times when you are just getting to know someone sexually, but as time goes on you may gain more confidence and comfortability to explore together. The better you get to know each other, the more you will understand each other’s physical cues as well, potentially needing less verbal communication. However, if you are ever unsure of something, always ask before proceeding.  

In my opinion, consent and communication are the most important aspects of sex. Being able to communicate during sex is what makes it enjoyable for all parties involved. When a situation is consensual and safe, it’s easier to communicate your needs. If you feel comfortable with your partner or partners, you will be able to express what feels good, what doesn’t, and what you want to explore. As your trust builds, you will be able to try new things together. Taking things slow can help build this trust and confidence.

If something doesn’t feel right or pleasurable any longer, pause, reevaluate what your mind and your body want, change direction, take things a little slower or stop altogether. Never rush yourself into something that you are not sure about or feel uncomfortable with. If someone is pressuring you to do something you do not want to do, that is not consent nor is it respecting your boundaries and that is not okay. Sexual assault can look like many things. If you are forced into something or do not feel like you are able to say no when you want to, that is assault. If you feel like someone is not respecting your boundaries then talk to them, a trusted friend or family member, or reach out to community resources. Your local Planned Parenthood, Rape Crisis Center, or Domestic Violence Solutions Center offer non-judgmental help and guidance.

Arianna Spiller
Planned Parenthood Employee 
Aspiring sex educator
These are solely my opinions and not those of Planned Parenthood


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