What is Consent? in Sex

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When it comes to having sex, regardless of if you've done it before, or being with your current partner before, one thing you always need is consent. So, what is consent and how does someone give it?

When it comes to sex, consent is key.

Consent is about your choice when it comes to having sex with someone. It’s also about saying what you are and aren’t comfortable with doing when it comes to sex – whether it’s kissing, touching or anything else. It’s important that you respect whatever people say yes or no to or make visibily clear. It’s also important to respect that people can change their minds at any time when engaging in any sexual activity.

So it’s just about people saying yes or no?

Consent can be verbal and non-verbal. If a partner tries pushing you away, or freezing, or doesn’t seem comfortable with what is happening – stop and ask if they are okay. Ask if they want to continue. And respect whatever decision they make.

They said no but they seem like they want to – they were kissing/touching me. Should I just make them have sex anyway?

No means no. If someone says they don’t want to have sex you should respect their decision.

This person was flirting with me/wearing a revealing outfit – they must want to have sex.

The only way to know if someone wants to have sex with you is to ask and get their consent to do so.

I know my partner has had sex before, so they must be okay with me having sex with them?

It doesn’t matter if someone has had sex before or hasn’t. You still need to ask if they want to have sex and talk about what you are both comfortable doing. Maybe they are okay with kissing but not touching. Maybe they want to have sex but don’t want to do certain things. You need to talk about this.

Me and my partner have had sex before, do I really need to ask for consent each time?

You need to have consent every time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had sex before or slept together multiple times – you need to make sure your partner consents and is okay with everything. Just because they’ve done something before doesn’t mean they are okay with it every time.

My partner wants to have sex and I don’t want to. But I want to make them happy. Should I do it anyway?

You should never feel pressured to have sex. Sex should be an activity that you both enjoy and get pleasure from. If you don’t want to have sex, then you shouldn’t force yourself to do so just because someone else wants to.

Find out more about feeling pressured to have sex.

Head back to young.scot/consent to find out more about 'New Rules' and get information about consenting to sex and healthy relationships.