June 28, 2019

First-Time Sex: What To Know About Consent

Consent is a crucial part of every sexual activity. Here’s everything you need to know to master the basics of consent before your first time.
Written by
Camille Beredjick
Published on
June 28, 2019
Updated on
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You’re gearing up for your first time. Awesome! While there are a lot of things to think about and figure out, brushing up on the topic of consent should be at the top of your list. Consent is the act of clearly agreeing to sexual activity with someone else, each and every time. Asking and giving consent teaches you your partner’s desires, preferences, and boundaries, and makes sure sex is as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.

Here’s what you need to know about consent as you get ready to have sex for the first time. 

How Does Sexual Consent Work?

Before you get down, get familiar with the basics of consent:

Consent Is A Must For All Sexual Activities

Full stop. Nobody should ever feel forced into having sex when they don’t want to. Asking for consent affirms that everyone involved wants to be there. If you don’t have someone’s consent to have sex, or if someone did not freely choose to participate, that’s not sex—it’s assault.

Consent Is Ongoing During Sex 

It’s important to get consent throughout the act of having sex, not just once at the beginning. For example, your partner may be okay with penetrative sex but not oral sex, or they may be okay with touching certain parts of their body but not others. 

Consent is the act of clearly agreeing to sexual activity with someone else, each and every time.

Getting consent is the best way to communicate those desires and boundaries. Consent can also be withdrawn during sex. If your partner changes their mind during sex, stop immediately. 

Consent Is Required Every Time, Even With The Same Partner

Giving consent once doesn’t mean consent has been given for every hookup. Kissing someone once doesn’t give them permission to kiss you anytime, anywhere, for the rest of time, right? Always ask for consent, even if you’ve already been sexual in other ways together. 

Consent Can Be Verbal Or Non-verbal

While affirmative verbal answers are the only clear way to give consent—you’ve probably heard that “yes means yes” and “no means no”—it’s also important to read your partner’s body language. Silence, freezing up, or other physical signs of discomfort or hesitation are indicators that something is wrong and it’s time to check in verbally. 

Consent Is A Conversation

Your partner might want to try something you’ve never done, or vice versa. That’s okay—this is why consent is so important. If you’re uncertain about something new but willing to try it, communicate that to your partner. Consent can give you a way to try new things with the understanding that your partner is listening to whether you’re into it and is prepared to stop if you decide you don’t want to continue.

How To Ask For Consent

You need to ask for consent clearly and consistently, before and throughout every sexual experience. Here’s how to ask for consent before your first time in a way that gives you the information you need, without being forceful or coercive. Remember that consent doesn’t happen just once, and you should check in with your partner throughout having sex too. 

Before Sex:

  • “Do you want to have sex?”
  • “What would you think of trying _____ with me later?” 
  • “Are you ready for _____?”
  • “Can we _____ tonight?” 
  • “I’d love to _____ with you later; are you interested?”

During Sex: 

  • “Do you want me to _____?” 
  • “Can I touch your _____?”
  • “Should I keep going?”
  • “Can I try _____ next?”
  • “What would feel good for you?”

How To Give Consent

Giving consent is just as important as asking for it! Here are some phrases you can use to tell your sexual partner what’s cool and what’s not, especially as you try some sex acts for the first time.

To Say Yes: 

  • “Yes, I’d love to _____ with you tonight.” 
  • “I love when you _____. Can you do that more?”
  • “It feels great when you _____.” 
  • “Keep doing that.” 
  • “Can you touch my _____ next?”
It’s important to get consent throughout the act of having sex, not just once at the beginning.

To Say No: 

  • “I’m not into that, but what if we _____ instead?” 
  • “No, I’m not interested in that.” 
  • “I’m not ready for that, but I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” 
  • “No thanks, I don’t want to.”
  • “That doesn’t feel great. Let’s take a break.” 
  • “Let’s slow down and ______ instead.” 

Important: If your partner isn’t respecting your boundaries before or during sex, don’t worry about being polite, flirty, or letting them down easy. A firm “no,” “stop,” “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t like that” makes it clear what’s off-limits, and your partner should respect that and stop straight away. 

Familiarize yourself with how to talk about consent and voila—you’re equipped for a happy and healthy first time having sex. 

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Camille Beredjick is a writer and nonprofit communications strategist. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed, the Daily Dot, Mic and elsewhere, and she is the author of Queer Disbelief: Why LGBTQ Equality Is an Atheist Issue. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife.

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