Consent is useful during any activity, not just sex. However, when it comes to sex it can feel more more fraught and difficult to communicate due to stigma. Everyone has a different definition of sex and what it may involve. That's why clear, informed consent is important before, during, and after any partnered activity. Consent should involve both a discussion of desires (what you want to do), and boundaries (what you don't want to do). 
There is no perfect model for how to consent during a sexual activity. We have listed a few to explore below. Practicing consent outside of sexual scenarios can be useful. 
Remember that it can be difficult to consent if you aren't sure what you like or want. Try solo-sex, erotica, or sexuality coaching if you want to better understand your sexual wants, wills, and wonts. If you are interested in exploring with partner(s), take it slow, and communicate as much as possible so that you can take care of yourself and recognize when you've reached a boundary. 

Consent Models & Educators

Consent education with Mia is an amazing social media account that discusses the Yes to No Spectrum. If you sign up for their newsletter you can receive a mini-workbook. 

Betty Martin's Wheel of Consent is an amazing resource for understanding consent. Check out the videos on her page and download the 3minute game to play with a partner. 

The stoplight model of consent involves changing the activity depending on how both parties are feeling. If both parties are consenting and feel excited moving forward, that is a green light. If one or more parties is unsure or might be reaching their boundary that is a yellow light! Yellow lights are a good opportunity to slow down or check in with each other. A red light means that one or more partners has reached a boundary. This means that the activity should stop and that everyone involved should check in and consider how to proceed. This could include changing the activity or moving into aftercare. 


The FRIES Model from Planned Parenthood

  • Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • ReversibleAnyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.

  • Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.

  • Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.

  • SpecificSaying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).