Chapter 3 - Situations Subchapter: Consenting to sex

Scenario: yes then no, is no


Elisabeth is in the final year of a psychology degree. She loves the academic life and hopes to graduate with honours and get a place in a PhD program. Elisabeth has a five-year plan and she’s on track!

To support herself while she studies, Elizabeth has a part-time job at a local bookshop that specialises in medical texts. She had a lot of trouble finding a job that fit with her study schedule and plans on keeping this job for as long as she can.

Paul, the owner, has a personal interest in psychology and psychoanalysis and has been really supportive of Elizabeth’s studies. He even helps with assignments, recommending texts she might read to deepen her knowledge. He’s also really attractive, and not that old.

Over the past month, Elisabeth has noticed Paul getting more physical at work - leaning across her and regularly touching her arm. She tries to ignore this increased attention but it’s hard – she enjoys Paul’s company and if he wasn’t her boss, she’d probably be interested in getting to know him socially.

Elisabeth knows she’s lucky to have Paul’s support for study timetable and his extra help has really improved her grades. One afternoon, they spend hours discussing a particular book and as they are closing up, Paul mentions he has a signed first edition copy at home and invites her over. It’s an important text and Elisabeth would love to see this rare copy.



The Field Model diagram: both characters are on Yes, so they move to the Action Zone.


Elisabeth arrives at Paul’s. He greets her with a kiss to the cheek and pours her a glass of wine. She doesn’t want to seem rude and accepts the drink but is worried there’s been a misunderstanding. She really does just want to see the rare book. Paul insists they sit for a while on the couch and he immediately gets very handsy.



The Field Model diagram: one character is on yes and one character is on no, so they move to the End Zone.


Elisabeth slides to the other end of the couch but Paul follows. ‘You’re very sweet’ he whispers, as he leans in to kiss her neck. Elisabeth is torn – Paul’s lips are soft and his whiskers tickle and he’s sexy and she’s turned on. They kiss, and it feels great.



The Field Model diagram: both characters are on Yes, so they move to the Action Zone.


Paul starts to unbutton Elisabeth’s shirt. She’s into the kissing but knows it needs to stop, now. She slides away and starts to rebutton her shirt, but Paul grabs her arm, tries to keep kissing her. Elisabeth stands and moves out of Paul’s reach.



The Field Model diagram: one character is on yes and one character is on no, so they move to the End Zone.


Outer world - Elisabeth really needs the money from her job to pay rent and doesn’t want any complications.

Body - Paul smells good and his hand is warm on her arm.

Inner world - It makes her feel special to know that someone like Paul finds her attractive, and he encourages all the reading she does because her last boyfriend used to tease her about it.


Elisabeth knows she needs to leave. ‘I have to get home and finish an assignment’, she says, before rushing out.

Elisabeth wonders if she’d signalled that she was interested in having a physical relationship with Paul but even if she did, she knows she didn’t initiate anything that night and she had the right to say no, at any time.

The wine may have been an attempt to turn an innocent situation into something more intimate. If either had become drunk, the situation could easily have gotten out of control.

As Elisabeth’s boss, Paul is in a position of power and influence. By saying NO to his advances, she could lose her job, and even if she doesn’t it will be awkward.

Elizabeth decides to look for new job straight away which is really frustrating and seems unfair.