In order to have respectful sex of any kind, partners need to have a solid understanding of each other’s boundaries around physical and sexual activity. Maybe one (or all) of you doesn’t have a lot of experience with sex (which is totally okay), or maybe one (or all) of you is really experienced (which is also totally okay). Being able to talk honestly with your partner/s about what you want, what you don’t want and what you’re comfortable or uncomfortable with is absolutely crucial. It’s also really important that you’re able to fully trust that your partner/s would not violate your boundaries or ignore your feelings. If you can’t talk with your partner/s about sex, and/or you don’t feel that you can trust them, then you and your partner/s likely aren’t quite ready to do it.
Another key ingredient to a healthy and respectful sexual relationship: CONSENT. We can’t say it enough, consent is 100% essential. Consent isn’t just about saying no to something; it’s about enthusiastically saying yes! Consent means that both people are excited about and completely on board with what’s happening. We all have the right to determine for ourselves what we do with our bodies, when we do it and with whom. Always. Even if you’re in a relationship with someone, that doesn’t mean you’re ever obligated to have sex of any kind. YOU decide what you will consent to and what you won’t.
So, what does a respectful sexual relationship look like?
- Checking in with each other before, during and after sexual activity
- Talking openly and honestly about what you like and don’t like
- Listening to each other
- Accepting that “No means no” and only “Yes means yes!”
- Respecting each other’s boundaries, no matter what
- Not sharing or threatening to share personal stuff (information, pictures, videos) with others
- Respecting each other’s right to privacy, online and off
If you have questions about sex and sexuality, Scarleteen is an AWESOME resource for honest, inclusive and straightforward information. Seriously, we love them. They created two checklists that are must-reads for anyone considering having sex – whether for the first time or the hundredth time.
Sexual Readiness Checklist: This is a suuuuper comprehensive list of questions for you and your partner(s) to think about and discuss before you have sex of any kind.
Yes, No, Maybe So: Need a little help figuring out your boundaries around sex? This checklist is for you. Go through it solo or with a partner!
Scarleteen also has a fantastic article about what “no” actually means and dealing with the fear of (or actual) rejection when it comes to sex. You gotta check it out!
Respectful, happy and healthy sexual relationships are possible for people of all genders and sexual orientations. Like any type of relationship, you need communication, boundaries, trust and respect!
*We’re hosting a Twitter chat with our friends at Scarleteen TONIGHT (Feb. 15, 2017) at 7 p.m. CST to talk about respect + sex! Join the conversation by following the hashtag #teendvchat.
Do you have concerns about your relationship? Does your partner ever try to make you do things sexually that you don’t want to do? Our advocates are here for you 24/7. Call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text “loveis” to 22522!