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  • Sexual Consent Can Only Be Given In The Moment

    There are not many universally applicable limits around sex and sexual practices. What consenting adults can do and enjoy in the privacy of their space is nearly limitless. However, there’s one that applies universally: That is Sexual Consent, and sexual consent can only be given in the moment.

    When there’s consent in the moment, the risk of sexual trauma is low. When sexual consent is in place and each party is clear about expectations and boundaries, nearly all sexual and/or romantic expressions, acts, and experiences become matters of preference or like. There is safety because there’s consent. It’s a full knowing that “nothing will happen here that I do not want.”

    No is Always No. Only Yes, is Yes

    Educating Yourself On Matters of Sexual Consent

    Please take time to continue educating yourself and others on the importance of sexual consent. After reading this blog. maybe you want to head on over to Manitoba’s Province of Manitoba | You Are Not Alone project. It’s an excellent resource!

    Importance of Your Own Consent

    There are always multiple aspects to consider with consent, two of which include: a) that of seeking your own consent from YourSelf and Your Body, which is entirely so very important, and b) the extension of your respect towards your partner’s consent. No is No, only Yes is Yes.

    In this blog I will primarily focus on point b, that is, your attention towards your sexual partner’s live, in the moment consent. This takes attention and attunement on your part towards your partner’s in-the-moment needs, likes, desires, turn-ons and turn-offs, yes all of that, but also their limitations and boundaries. In real time. In the moment.

    However, please note that having your consent respected is equally as important as you respecting your partner’s consent. Each point below applies back to you in the same way as it applies to your partner.

    If your partner does not respect your consent, you may want to speak to a professional to explore ways to navigate this painful situation, and what your best options are for moving forward. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us any time if you would like to speak to one of our warm and compassionate therapists.

    Sexual and/or Romantic Enthusiasm

    You know that thing you feel, or maybe did in the past, when you are excited about an upcoming sexual or a romantic experience? The giddiness feeling? Which can sometimes bubble up as lots and lots of words that just come out? Let’s call that sexual and/or romantic enthusiasm.

    Please note that from here on forward in this blog, the /or will be implied with the and/or when referring to sexual and/or romantic enthusiasm. In other words, romance is never assumed or necessary in sexual experiences.

    Let’s define sexual and romantic enthusiasm. Let’s say, “sexual and romantic enthusiasm is any sexually stimulating enthusiasm as expressed through word, physical demonstration and gesture, and sexually arousing physical stimulus.”

    • Through word: Such as “tonight we’re so going that thing we like so much”
    • Through physical demonstration and gesture: Such as the demo of a type of dance that could be on the table for tomorrow tonight, flashing body parts that are intended to lead to sexual arousal and stimulation for you, etc.
    • Through sexually arousing physical stimulus such as physical touch and other physically arousing acts and play

    In-the-moment sexual and romantic enthusiasm looks a lot like “Yes, I like it when you do it that way!” On the other hand, sexual and romantic enthusiasm can also be any future-referring sexual enthusiasm. It’s perfectly healthy for sexual and romantic enthusiasm to show up in both experiences: In the dreaming about the sexual act, and in the sexual act itself. However, this is not the case when it comes to consent. When it comes to consent, it all comes down to a clear Yes or clear No, in the moment. Consent can never be given ‘for later,’ or for an event that will happen in the future, even if this future is let’s say in the next hour.

    In other words, any future-referring sexual enthusiasm can never be considered as consent. There is no such thing as future consent, because consent can only ever be given in the moment.

    Consent Is Only Ever In the Moment

    Let’s say there’s that sex position you like. And let’s say your sexual partner suggests, that, as part of a sexy-date you’ve got planned for tomorrow, they might enjoy that magical position of yours. They say, “tomorrow as part of our date, I’m telling you we are so doing that thing you love so much!” Tomorrow rolls around and voila, consent can only ever be given in the moment.

    Now it’s today, your sexual partner considers consent in the moment, and takes that favourite sex position off the menu for today. For your sexual partner, today’s sexual desire may range anywhere from “nothing sexual feels right today” to “many things are on offer,” but either way that magical position of yours feels wrong to them today because…

    • … yes it is acceptable for them to say “I just don’t feel it today.” That’s a valid reason! Yesterday was not an expression of future consent, it was an expression of sexual and romantic enthusiasm. Consent only ever happens in the moment, in real time
    • … it’s a vulnerable position for them, and it doesn’t feel right today
    • … they are intoxicated and not currently in a position to give consent

    Now, you may momentarily almost feel entitled to that magical position of yours. Maybe there’s that voice: “But you promised!” or “You owe me!” Work through those feelings in the moment and remind yourself that, yesterday was about your sexual partner expressing sexual and romantic enthusiasm, today is all about consent. Past Self cannot grant consent for future Self. Your sexual partner’s yesterday’s Self neither could nor meant to express consent for today’s sexual experience. Consent can only ever be granted in the moment.

    It feels like they changed their mind? Remember, yesterday was sexual and romantic enthusiasm, consent can only ever be given in the moment. Yesterday, that expression of sexual and romantic enthusiasm was fully meant by your sexual partner, but that was a separate experience entirely on it’s own. It was 100% about the sexual and romantic expression in that moment. It was about the romance and sexual steam that’s held within that expression itself. Focusing on any other part misses the point entirely. It misses a grand opportunity for you and your partner to experience a wider array of sexual expression. A broader scope and diversity of romance and/or sexual experiencing. Treating these as anything but separate experiences misses the opportunity for you and your sexual partner to enjoy sexual and romantic playfulness. Playfulness leads to the deepest and most enjoyable way of experiencing each of these fully, as separate experiences.

    But wait. At the end they do come back together again, don’t they? By leaving yesterday with yesterday, you created safety between you and your partner for today. You did foreplay. You stayed in the moment. You stayed attuned to your partner’s true intentions in that moment; that is, for yesterday to be about an expression for yesterday. Your (and their) nervous system did not get negatively activated by you interpreting yesterday’s expression of sexual enthusiasm as a promise for today’s sexual acts. For your partner, this creates safety for future sexual playfulness. It makes sexual playfulness safe because your partner’s nervous system won’t feel like it has to pay a price for being playful with you; by having to “keep their promises” in the future. It makes play safe. It makes sex safe. And do you know what happens when sexual safety and playfulness come together? That’s when real magic happens!

    So, regardless of what was said in a moment of sexual and romantic enthusiasm yesterday, your sexual partner was literally unable to consent for today’s Self. No changing of mind happened, since future expression of sexual and romantic enthusiasm cannot be considered as consent. We know that because—and say it out loud with me this time “Consent. Can. Only. Be. Given. In. The. Moment.”

    Speak it to yourself, out loud, over and over again to deepen your understanding and muscle memory of in-the-moment consent. Speak it to others. Share this post. Encourage your friends and family to read this post. Let’s continue the conversation about the importance of in-the-moment sexual consent.

    Please reach out to us any time for questions or to book a therapy appointment with one of our warm and compassionate therapist. We look forward to hearing from you!

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