Consent clearly affirms agreement for actions that involve others and the we-spaces shared with them.
- Supports increased safety, deeper respect, and freedom of choice (including the unpunished freedom to opt-out)
- Brings each person’s power confidently into the co-creation.
- Asking for and reaffirming consent brings the fresh opportunity for each person to check in with their body guidance and express any boundary changes they want right now.
Consent transforms an experience of one person “doing to” another person into a shared one where we are both “doing” – even if one is giving and one receiving.
“I’m going to go give my friend a hug!”
Does your friend want one right now? How do you know?
“But they always love hugs!”
Even when they are sick and concerned they might pass it along? Or they feel smelly and want to shower first? Or just had a fight with their lover and need some space to calm down before they can feel open to being close to anyone – even you?
Asking, “Want to share a hug?” and leaving enough space for them to say no (or not say yes and not open their arms) is… awkward. Most of the time the huggers of the world assume people are a yes. A hug is then done TO anyone and everyone.
This is assuming consent, not clearly affirming it. Some consent-assuming huggers get pretty bent out of shape if you say no or pull away. Sorry, but for thriving relationships we need space to feel into what’s a YES and absolutely need respect for our body autonomy if we don’t want to be “done TO” for hugs, kisses, handshakes, tickles, sex… anything.
Navigating consent can feel awkward. That’s okay! The rewards are immense.
We assert that when people are getting closer, checking in allows for safety and openness to grow and deepen.
If we cannot say, “Right now I don’t feel like ____,” we’re not feeling emotionally free and that we can express what is right for us without rejection, defensiveness, or disconnection.
So much joy can come from exploring what’s a YES for me, what’s a YES for you, and what we choose as our YES-YES right now.
Practice saying NO to those we love: “That’s a NO for me right now.”
Practice staying open with those we want to co-create with: “That’s not a YES for me right now. I do feel a YES for…”
Admit when we’re not clear and see what arises: “I’m not clear what, if anything, is a YES for me right now. Would you be willing to share what’s a YES for you… that I could consider?”
Reserve the freedom to take a powerful pause: “I hear your YES to _____. I’m going to pause right now and feel into that for myself. Is it okay if I let you know in 20 minutes? If not, then I’ll decline.”
Ask for consent before assuming someone is a YES: “I’m struggling with something right now, and I so appreciate all the times you’ve helped me through such times. Before I share it, though, I wanted to check and see whether you’re in a place right this moment where supporting me is a YES for you? And it is perfectly okay to say NO.”
Friends, Lovers, and Co-Creators who are actively exploring consent dynamics in these ways are transforming how energy and power can flow with safety, respect, and outstanding freedom of choice.
- Am I assuming they are a YES without confirming it?
- Are they in a space where they are capable of being clear?
- Do I expect them to say NO if they don’t want me to do something to them, or tell me to STOP? (That’s not consent, and it assumes a person feels confident and clear enough to actually speak.)
- Am I okay hearing NO? (If not, I have work to do to develop that crucial skill of offering emotional safety.)
Agreements, Better Boundaries, Choices, Co-Creating, Co-Regulation, Discernment, Diversity Spectrum, Hold Space, Power With, Powerful Pause, Primitive Brain, Right Distance Right Depth, Trauma-Informed, We-Space
We invite you to share your experiences and wisdom:
- Life examples where this concept has played a role
- Other useful questions
- Links to audios, videos, books, and courses that add to our shared understanding of this concept
- Memes, quotes, and inspiring images