Consent and relationships

When being intimate with another person, the most important to thing to do is make sure that you have their consent. This is an absolute must and it is very easy to do!

What is consent?

Consent is an agreement between people that they are happy to do something together. This could include agreeing that you want to go as far as having sex with other people, or for something as simple as hugging someone else. Consent must be given before doing something intimate with someone else, and must be given at multiple stages throughout. Consent can also be taken away: if someone tells you that they want to stop, you must stop.

How can I ask for consent?

This is simple: ask someone “can I hug you?” “can I kiss you?” “can we have sex?” and, if they say yes, they have given their consent. It is especially good if they seem enthusiastic, are making sure that you also feel happy and safe, and that they seem generally happy with what you are doing.

Keep asking questions: “is it okay if I do this?” “is it okay if I touch you here?” “does this feel good?” or, even better, ask the other person to tell you what they want to do; then you can be certain that they are communicating with you well. But remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If you are unhappy, say so and encourage the other person to do the same.

However, there are times when you may not be sure that they have actually consented. If someone seems unsure or nervous (despite saying yes) you must stop what you are doing until you are both comfortable. NO never means YES, but there are times when YES could also mean NO.

This is especially important if someone is under the influence of alcohol. Though it is possible to consent after having a drink, it is also possible to be too drunk. If someone seems too drunk e.g., they are slurring too much, they can’t stand or walk straight then they can’t consent. The same applies for being under the influence of drugs. If you are unsure for any reason, just stop.

Consent and the Law

Not only is consent important to ensure that everyone is happy and having fun, it is also important in terms of the law and keeping safe.

Legally, no one in the UK can consent to sex if they are under 16.

If you can’t talk to the other person clearly about having sex, this means you are not ready.

If you can’t have comfortable conversations about sex, how can you have safe sex?

Remember, although the age of consent is 16, you can still speak to a doctor, nurse, or school nurse for confidential information.


Helpful links:

Video about consent:

More detailed NHS article:

Disrespect No Body advice: