Throughout my life, I dealt with different types of men.
Some of them were persuasive and pushy; others were more respectful but still had some work to do.
It wasn’t until five months ago when I accidentally went out with a friend of my ex-boyfriend that I felt 100 percent safe and respected with a man I barely knew.
I didn’t know if we agreed to meet as old friends or as something more, but back then, I didn’t mind getting drunk with someone besides myself. We had a few drinks, I had some more, and there I was once again at the stage where I could barely make any decisions—the stage where men try to take advantage of women and go to town with all the techniques and charms they’ve learned over the years from college friends.
However, this was the first time I heard a guy who was just as drunk as I was—in a setting that became rather intimate—and asked me if he could make a move and simply put a hand on me.
Dear lord. Do guys still do that?
We had been going out for a while when I started noticing more signs that were different from the way other men would usually treat me—things that some people might find normal but that were somehow surprising to me.
Though I always thought I understood sexual consent well, I started questioning the way I defined consent in everyday life and casual dating.
Being used to different definitions of consent, I always felt guilty stopping a guy during sex if something felt off.
I mean, just because I feel exhausted or my vagina can’t handle any more thrusting for the third time in a row, it doesn’t mean we have to stop right away without him even having a chance to cum. And just because I don’t feel like having a full sex experience in the morning, it doesn’t mean I can’t pull a quickie without having to be too present and engaged.
With him, on the other hand, I always felt that he could sense whenever I didn’t have a good time or wasn’t too involved. He would always ask me about it and immediately stop, refusing to have sex until I was present and into it as much as him.
When I was young and inexperienced, someone once told me how harmful it is for men to hold their orgasm too much or not cum at all after they’ve been aroused. And even though it can be partially true, it is still not an excuse that men should use to juggle us with.
Since then, comfortable or not, I was always afraid to actually stop a guy during sex if it was getting too uncomfortable or painful. It wasn’t a big deal for me to hold it a bit longer, knowing that I wouldn’t deprive someone’s pleasure I felt responsible for.
Have I been wrong about consent my whole life, thinking that it only applies when you want to have sex with someone outside of a relationship? How do we even define consent within a close relationship where all boundaries are seemingly vague?
It appears to me that in a relationship, consent becomes somewhat intuitive and sensual when we start initiating sex and can read the body language of someone we already know so well—how they react, what they do, and how their body responds.
But why do so many of us think that we have to bear the pain and carry on once sex becomes exhausting just because it’s not that hard to do it for another few minutes?
There. We have the will and our consent (after all, men can’t always read our minds to know that something feels off, therefore, we can’t blame them for hurting us without their knowledge), but at the same time, we continue enduring our pain or uncomfortable senses just because we are afraid to speak up about our own pleasure.
Should we really do that because we afraid to come off as unsexy or spoil a good time? Personally, I am not a fan of the idea to ask for consent before making every tiny move during sex. I don’t want my boyfriend to ask for my permission to kiss me while we’re having sex, to slap my butt, or to flip me over. After all, I am all about being in the moment with my full passion.
But how about making sure that our partner feels safe and comfortable?
For a while, I thought that questions like this could turn off the mood and come off completely unsexy. But what if my own blindness makes someone I’m with feel obligated to do something they don’t feel like doing? In the same way, should I feel like I should sacrifice my own comfort and not say a word when I should?
When I just started having sex, it was hard to get used to it right away. For me, there was a lot of pain, especially when I lost my virginity, but I couldn’t be more grateful for doing it with someone who made it comfortable for me.
However, I still had some issues at the beginning that were too painful for me and almost felt like rape. Back then, I didn’t want to say anything, even though I knew my partner would understand and stop. But for some reason, I thought that I couldn’t and shouldn’t. He was horrified when I eventually told him that.
Of course, learning that someone you have consensual sex with compares it to rape isn’t the most pleasant thing someone can live with. But it was on me to speak up and not pretend that sex was always supposed to be easy and fun just because I was afraid to spoil the mood.
I never said this to anyone else, but I think it’s an example that everyone should learn from in order to stop treating sex as some sort of obligation as the porn industry and movies tend to show us.
Sex is truly fun, and it can be wild and amazing. But it can also be painful for multiple reasons. It can feel exhausting or tiring, or we might feel sick or suddenly turned off.
It is perfectly okay, and it is something we shouldn’t be afraid to bring up.
Sex should be conscious. It means opening our eyes and getting comfortable asking things like, “Do you want to stop?” and, “Do you want to keep going?”
It means asking about something else we could try instead of ignoring our partner when something feels off and paying attention to their body language, facial expressions, and their response to our touch—whether we’ve been together for an hour or five years .
Most importantly, it means learning to be real and honest with ourselves and our partner, which can be so damn difficult sometimes.