“Yes means yes” and “no means no.” These are the terms we often use to define consent. But now, an added layer to the term takes consent a step further. Introducing: enthusiastic consent.
Enthusiastic consent is the concept that consent not only means saying “yes” but also showing signs of enthusiasm. Megan Johnson, a health promotion specialist at GatorWell, said there isn’t really a difference between “regular” consent and enthusiastic consent because it’s important that both people involved are excited.
“You can’t get consent without it being enthusiastic because that means that someone involved is not excited for it to be happening,” the 28-year-old said.
This added layer to consent helps prevent uncomfortable situations. People sometimes feel ashamed to say no when the gears are already turning.
Enthusiastic consent makes it so there is an extra level of requirement. But this requires sexually active individuals to have a certain amount of emotional intelligence. It may seem obvious when someone is into something or not, but if someone does not have a high emotional IQ, he or she could miss the clear signs.
“In order to have really great sex, everyone needs to be on board,” Johnson said.
Never assume it is always going to be a yes. Make sure it’s clear that it’s a yes by getting verbal confirmation. In most cases, the most reliable way of knowing that your partner is ready to engage in sexual behavior is through verbal consent. But ongoing conversation is important. “Is this OK?” “Is that OK?” “I’m not OK with this” and “Can we try this instead?” are just some of the ways to find clarity with your partner.
Ongoing conversations help get the guesswork out of the way. Even if it is just a hookup, it’s important to check in with your partner to make sure they agree with what is about to go down at every step.
If there is time beforehand to talk about consent, try having the conversation through a “Will, Want, Won’t” list. Through this exercise, a discussion about what you are willing to do, want to do and absolutely won’t do clears some of the vagueness that comes with sex.
When it comes to consent, do not do any guess work. Consent needs to be enthusiastic, uncoerced, sober and clearly defined. Yes does mean yes, but pay attention to nonverbal signs and double check by making sure there are no misinterpretations.