What is consent?
Consent is permission to do something.
- Can I kiss you?
- Yes, you can kiss me, I would like that.
Consent involves a shared decision – one person asks for something, or asks to do something, and the other person responds with yes, no, or I don’t know.
As a society, we’ve decided one person can’t just take what they want or do what they want to another person. Every YES must be freely given, otherwise there is no consent. A NO is always a no, regardless of the circumstances.
You’re attracted to someone and you want to get to know them better – find out about them and their lives, what they like to do, what makes them laugh, cry, their hopes and dreams. Over time, you might want to have sex with them, and you hope they feel the same way about you.
Sexual encounters usually progress through a series of stages – getting to know the other person, getting intimate with the other person, having sex with the other person, and then whatever develops after sex.
Each stage is made up of many small decisions and successfully navigating through them can be tricky. At any point you may become so overwhelmed by your emotions that you miss important signals from the other person.
You’ve decided you know what you want, but how do you know what the other person wants?
Stop Ask Listen is the first part of the Field Model. It’s about recognising other people as individuals with their own rich inner worlds and making an effort to understand what they really want from a relationship.
Ask what the person wants
Listen to what the person says
For each and every decision.
CAN WE MEET UP?
“A first date - cool!”
If both people agree YES to a decision, then you can both enter the ACTION ZONE.
CAN WE MEET UP AGAIN?
“Cool! I really enjoyed spending time with you and would love to do it again.”
CAN I KISS YOU?
“The kissing was awesome. I really like you.”
Each decision is agreed to at a point in time. YES to one thing does not mean yes to everything.
CAN YOU SEND ME A NUDE?
“It’s good that you feel you can be honest with me. OK, No nudes!”
If one person decides NO, then you are in the END ZONE and the other person must respect that no, regardless of how they might feel.
CAN I TOUCH YOU THERE?
“I am really turned on by you.”
CAN I TOUCH YOU A DIFFERENT WAY?
“No problem, I won’t do that.”
If you receive a NO, your job is to manage your own emotions so that you can both get through the END ZONE in a safe and respectful way.
CAN WE HAVE SEX?
That was amazing. I feel so close to you.”
NOW CAN WE HAVE SEX THIS WAY?
“Ok. We won’t do anything you don’t want to do.”
There are no rules for how long it will take to progress through the different stages. For example, two people might choose to date for a few months before progressing to the sex stage, while others might progress through these stages quickly.
How you move through each stage is not as important as making sure both you and your partner freely agree YES to each shared decision.
Rushing, re-ordering, or skipping any of the phases, can increase the chance of miscommunication and missed signals, possibly resulting in a bad experience for one or both of you. No-one wants or deserves a bad sexual experience.
Only do what you are comfortable with – this is really crucial. Sexual encounters should be safe and exciting with each person completely comfortable and able to experience pleasure.