As someone who enjoys BDSM there is an issue that I pay very close attention to; what is consent? What does it mean to consent to sexual activity, whether it’s BDSM or not. If someone kisses you, is that consent? If a woman is dressed sexy, is that consent? Some people claim there’s a lot of grey area and others say it’s black and white. I claim it’s a grey area that needs to be made black and white by the people involved.

The Government of Canada defines consent as “the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question. Conduct short of a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity does not constitute consent as a matter of law.” It then goes on to break down this definition but what does it mean in our average sexual relations? Do we have to start getting our partners to sign a contract?

One person may interpret another’s actions very differently. A touch on the hand may mean “go for it” to one person but may just be a kind gesture to another. So when you’re trying to go out and get lucky, how do you know that the other person is into it? How can you be sure? Ask.

I know, I know. It’s not sexy to stop the flirting long enough to ask point blank if the person wants to fuck. It’s a necessary part of the process. However, the conversation doesn’t end there. What’s expected in your magical night of naked bouncy bounce also may have very different expectations on both parts. What about condoms? Rough sex okay? Maybe one of you wants to involve latex and a riding crop.

In BDSM this part of the conversation is called “negotiation.” If sleeping with this person is important to you, then taking this time won’t detract from the actual in and out event at all. It will add to the event by instilling a sense of trust in the other person, that they know your limits and you know theirs. You can relax and enjoy everything once it’s out of the way.

When you negotiate, be sure you’re clear about your expectations and needs. For myself, this means making sure the other person knows never to touch my neck and condoms are a must among other things. But what happens if someone breaks the rules?

For myself, I have two different kinds of rules. Ones that are hard and fast and others that are negotiable. Condoms and not touching my neck are two hard and fast rules. Whereas spanking is a negotiable rule. If someone breaks your hard and fast rule, play should end instantly. Those rules are there for a reason and they don’t have to understand or agree with them but they do have to respect those rules.

Before you go into a situation that may end up with nudity and orgasms, be sure you know what you want and expect. Then be sure you understand your partner as well. You cannot reasonably expect to be mature enough to have sex if you cannot express your desires and understand the desires of your partner or partners.

The last bit of negotiation advice is that you cannot give consent if you are intoxicated. This means if you’re drunk or stoned, you cannot give consent. Don’t drink and fuck is the lesson here. Besides, who wants to deal with whiskey dick, anyway? If your partner is drunk, your horny night will wait.

Consent can be an easy understanding between two or more people. If you’re not sure you have consent, ask or walk away. No still means no and it doesn’t mean keep trying. It means no. However, when two (or more) people say yes, a fun night can be had by all. Fuck responsibly.