Constantly checking in for consent: sweet or annoying?

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Constantly checking in for consent: sweet or annoying?

Unread postby AphroditeLoves » Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:48 pm

CW: mentions of past sexual assaults/abuse/r•pe, kink. Also, he/him please!

I'm gonna start by saying I'm a complete virgin, if you don't count rape as the stealing of one's v card. I feel the need to tell y'all this because I am speaking from the perspective of someone with zero experience and I'd like to know a bit before I get started?

So, in my fantasies, there's always the element of constantly checking in for consent, even (especially) in moments where it would be completely awkward. It doesn't matter what is happening, even in fantasies where the lack of consent is kinda the point, one of us asks "Hey? Y'all good babe?" (usually way more eloquently, but you get the point.)

What I'm wondering is this... Annoying? Or weird? I feel like being on the receiving end of this would be awkward, even though I know I'd probably need it and would otherwise dissociate or be too scared to say no. And even if it is completely needed, how the hell would I bring that up to a future partner? "Hey, I was mf-in' yeeted when I was like six and now I want you to ask me if I'm doing fine like literally every fifteen seconds, and I'll probably do the same to you." Like?? I can barely talk to my therapist in a serious manner, let alone someone who isn't legally required to keep my information private.

Do people who don't have issues with saying no even think about this too much beyond the obligatory asking for consent in the first place thing? I don't want to make a partner feel like they might hurt me or feel guilty if they want to try anything. Ugh. This don't feel cute, sis.

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Re: Constantly checking in for consent: sweet or annoying?

Unread postby Gone.Sorry. » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:01 pm

Hi, AphroditeLoves! Welcome to the boards. =)

The first thing to know about consent is that it doesn't have to be sweet, cute, sexy, flirty or whatever else. It is necessary. And anybody worth your time will respect and support your boundaries.

The next thing to know about consent is that it is fluid. You are allowed to change your mind about doing something whenever. You are allowed to decide you want to stop having sex completely in the middle of sex. You are allowed to decide something you tried isn't for you and that you don't want to finish it and want to do something else instead. You are allowed to be in the middle of something and decide to revoke or change your consent. So, partners are and always should be seeking to see that they still have consent to be doing what they're doing. People may do this even without realizing. Besides verbal consent, it's good to pay attention to people's body language and sounds. Are they still as engaged in the activity as you are? Are they staring off bored somewhere? Are they relaxed and free moving? Are they stiff and tense? Is their breathing excited? Even? Short and anxious? Are they making sounds of pain? Are they making sounds of pleasure? Of flirty frustration?

So, consent is fluid and is something partners should be checking in with each other continually as they're going along. And if you want this consent to be verbalized, that's a-okay, and that's absolutely a boundary you can have!

I know you're worried about how you'll come off with having such a boundary, so let me also tell you a little secret. Sex and even intimacy in general is often awkward - and often funny! People will be figuring things out all the time: the first time they do a certain activity, the first time they do a certain activity with someone different, the first time they are with someone they haven't been before, etc. Often the secret to getting closer and navigating each other's boundaries and interests and desires is to be able to laugh at yourselves and at each other. It's okay when things are awkward! It's okay to find the awkwardness funny! It's okay when things are funny! Sex isn't always smooth and perfect. People fart, skin rubbing or slapping together makes weird sounds, the furniture you're on may make unexpected noises, interruptions happen, figuring out a new position may mean some awkward Twister, people can accidentally knock head's, etc. A great way to relax is see those things for how funny they are and laugh together and work to move past them and figure out what you want and how you want to be doing it.

And, over time, you might find that you move from wanting mostly verbal consent mostly to code words or gestures. For example, when people spar, someone tapping the other person or the ground three times wherever their hand can reach means that they fold. If you find the verbal consent getting unwieldy, you could come up with a phrase like "salami" means "is this good? do you want to continue?" and then the other person can give a yes or a no. Or maybe gently tapping a finger twice on their temple means "is this good? do you want to continue?" and the other person can nod or shake their head.

But there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting verbal consent and wanting it often. This is a good way to keep things clear! This is your boundary and therefore it's a fair boundary to have and to uphold!

People are all sorts of different. Some people are really verbal, others may speak more with body language, etc. If you find someone who can't respect your communication needs or your boundaries or even "finds them annoying", that just means that's not a good person for you to move forward with sexually!

As well, you absolutely do not have to explain why you have a certain boundary. If someone asks, all you need to do is say "I like being really clear, and I best connect with verbal methods of consent. Is this something you can do?"

Exploring your sexuality can be very fraught and full of pressure for everyone! Many people overthink things, worry about things that never come up, and more. These are perfectly natural questions you have, and I'm glad you found ScarleTeen a safe place to ask them!

Since you brought up struggling to open up with your therapist, I do also want to quickly check in with you there. Have you been working with your therapist for a while - and do you feel they are helping you? Do they let you explore methods of communication that are easiest for you (for example, I communicate a lot better via writing than verbally, so I like to write out anything serious I have to say and then either recite that to people or let them read my letter)? Is starting to explore your sexuality and your sexual boundaries something you feel like you can bring up to your therapist? This might be a helpful topic to cover with them, as (I know from my own personal experiences), this could bring up new or old or conflicting feelings for you and having some good strategies in place to help cope with those feelings might be beneficial.

Finally, how are you feeling about your exploration so far? Thinking about your boundaries ahead of time is really smart, not something everyone does or feels like they can do, and I'm so happy this is something you're giving yourself time to think about and define.

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Re: Constantly checking in for consent: sweet or annoying?

Unread postby al » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:02 pm

Hi there AphroditeLoves, and welcome to Scarleteen!

[Edited to add - horriblegoose got in here first, but here's my take!]

First off I want to just affirm how great it is that you're taking time to think about what you want your sexual experiences to feel like if/when you eventually have them. You're absolutely right- sexual assault does not count as sex, because sex can only happen with consent. When we talk about 'losing virginity', we're talking about the first time that someone freely and enthusiastically decides to be sexual with someone else. (Although 'virginity' as a concept is based on a lot of harmful historical beliefs - I recommend checking out Magical Cups and Bloody Brides: Virginity in Context if you haven't already).

In terms of your question, I think that anyone who's worth your time shouldn't have a problem with checking in consistently. Just like you wouldn't want to hurt a potential partner, someone who cares about you and wants to be a good sexual partner will want to respect your boundaries and make sure that you have options to communicate what you are and aren't comfortable with. Ideally, that's something that all of us should be doing with someone who we don't know all that well, or are having sex with for the first time - checking in frequently.

I understand why you might feel hesitant about it though; it's not like there's a whole lot of representation out in popular media of sexual partners overtly discussing what they like and don't like and checking with each other frequently. Most often we're shown couples who barely say anything, much less ask each other how they're doing or assert that things need to slow down, stop, or be done differently. But there are absolutely ways to address those things in the moment that don't have to slow things down or ruin in the mood. Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent gives some really good examples, as well as talks about why those check ins are so important, especially for those of us who have experienced assault or abuse.

I'll also say that opening up about what you've experienced can be a deeply personal and vulnerable thing to do (although the way that you phrased it had me absolutely cracking up). You don't have to share that with every single person that you're sexual with; you can always ask that your partner(s) check in with you every so often/pause and ask before initiating any kind of new activity and get an explicit "yes" before continuing - all without explaining your own backstory. And if they're unwilling to communicate in a way that keeps you feeling safe and engaged, then they probably aren't going to be a great sexual partner anyway.
But that's also the type of thing that you could save for situations wherein you've been able to feel someone out a little bit, and have a little bit of trust in them and their ability to respect your boundaries. You might not feel comfortable opening up about that with a stranger, but with someone that you've known for a while or have been dating for a little bit, you might have more of a rapport with, and might feel a bit more comfortable sharing your own wants and needs with. Does that make sense?
Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it. -Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully

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