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The unknowns of consent.

CW: details of sex

Image credit @helenasbeghen

When I was a teenager my mother tried to teach me morals, values and the social structures that were connected with sex. My mother already knew, what every sexual active girl knows or otherwise will come to know. To prepare me for the unknown she tried to explain to me that sex is not only about using a condom and making sure you are wet enough, she told me that it is okay to have sex if you like someone and he or she likes you back, but even more important, always feel comfortable with what you are doing.

But when I started having sex, I still did not know many things until I learnt them personally. Nothing she told me could have allowed me to know what she had known all along.

I liked him and he liked me, I was comfortable as was he, but most importantly he always checked if I was comfortable and so did I. I took it for granted because I thought that this was normal - to be respected and respect someone back. It should be normal but I soon learnt perhaps it was not.

Later, I was hanging out with someone else I really liked. He was - and continues to be - a really nice person. I knew I was not going to fall in love with him but I liked him and that was enough. We started kissing slowly, our clothes came off, I started jerking him off and he went down on me. I still liked him and he still liked me, I still felt comfortable and he still felt comfortable. Until he tried to go further without checking like my partners before him, his penis was almost in my vagina without a condom. As I was thinking this through, I said to him, “I don’t want to have sex without a condom” and “I was not ready yet”. For me, this was reason enough to stop.

Perhaps not consciously I realised that, actually, I did not want to have sex with him even though I liked him and he liked me. He went down on me again “to make me wet enough”. He wanted to have sex without a condom once more, and again he was almost inside me. He did not check if I was comfortable with this like he had not before. I stopped him and said again that I don’t want to have sex without a condom. “Fine, I get the hint”, he rolled off me and went to sleep. As I laid there I was embarrassed and lonely. But even worse I had the feeling as if I owed him something, because after all I liked him and he liked me. At first I had indeed felt comfortable and so had he. But I also realised that I just didn’t want to have sex because maybe I was not sure if I was actually comfortable, if he just had checked on me. I wondered what would have happened if I did not clearly say “no” several times.

In that instance I came to know what I did not know, but what my mother had known all along. There are some experiences that cannot be explained but must be learnt in the most sensitive way.

- Anonymous

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