You know what people don't talk about enough? Consent. As monumentally important as it is, it doesn't seem to get as much airtime as it should, be it in conversation, the media, or otherwise. Although you might preach the importance of "no means no," consent is much more than the decision of one person. Putting the responsibility of consent on one party can make a person feel like their consent isn't being valued. And what do you do when your consent isn't being valued?
Consent is about more than the words yes and no. It's about valuing what your partner wants and needs, and being able to openly express those wants and needs. Teaching consent is one of the most important things you can do for a person. When you learn the value of someone else's wants and needs, and you learn to respect them? You foster a greater sense of not only commitment, but trust, and love. If you're in a relationship where you're feeling like your consent isn't being valued, or that it's being downright ignored? It's time to speak up. Because if someone is disrespecting your wishes, they're disrespecting you. A relationship should be a partnership where you feel loved and comfortable, and without consent? It's just not possible.
1. Express Your Concerns
You have to talk about it. Approach your partner as though you would with any other subject you disagree on. Don't back down and don't feel silly for feeling the way you feel. If you need to write down talking points before you have the conversation? Do it. Anything to make you feel more at ease while fighting for your wants and needs.
2. Ask For Advice
Talk to a trusted confidant about the matter. Do they know both you and your partner? Even better. If you feel uncomfortable bringing it up to your partner, try practicing a dialogue with someone you trust. Practice makes perfect.
3. Vocalize Your Concern When It Happens
If your partner is having a hard time realizing exactly what it is they're doing that makes you feel like your consent isn't being valued, the next time it happens? Point it out.
4. Practice Consent Yourself
Make sure that you're practicing consent on your end, too. Consent is a two way street. Are you valuing the importance of your own consent? Your partner's consent? Spend some quiet time with yourself and evaluate the level of consent in your relationship, and your relationship with yourself.
5. Talk About Ways To Communicate Consent
Communication in a relationship is key, especially when it comes to consent. Open the floor for any unresolved issues surrounding consent between you and your partner. Not all consent is verbal, and if you open the discussion to nonverbal consent, chances are that your communication on the whole will improve.
6. Seek Out Therapy
If you've tried talking to your partner and haven't gotten anywhere, it could be time to seek out a third party and a professional to help you through this.
7. Walk Away
If after all of this, your consent still isn't being valued? It's time to think about walking away. There is no shame in leaving a relationship where your partner does not respect your wants and needs. Respect is the basis of all healthy relationships, and if you don't have that, you have to do what's right for you, even if that includes walking away.