How Important Is Consent?

July 19, 2022

Having a full understanding of consent is one of the most important components of a healthy relationship.  In fact, learning about consent at a very young age is crucial for the development of healthy boundaries and safe relationships throughout life.  So, whether you are wanting to define consent for yourself, or if you are a parent or someone who has an influence on a child’s life, this article is for you!

So, what is the definition of consent:

con·sent. /kənˈsent/  noun.  permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

It is crucial to understand the laws about consent when it comes to dating and sexual activity. Getting permission is important, but there are laws about how permission is defined.  If you do not follow these laws, even if you feel you had consent, it will not hold up in a court of law if a person states they did not give permission and these guidelines were not followed.

Whether it’s holding hands, kissing, touching, sexual intercourse, or anything else, it’s important for everyone in the relationship to feel comfortable with what’s happening.

Also, it is important to know that it is illegal for a person who is 18 or older to have sex with a person under 18.  It is considered statutory rape, even if there was consent.  So, if you are over 18 and dating a person who is under 18, there are risks.  For instance, if something goes wrong in the relationship, and they report that you pressured them, or anything along those lines, you are not within legal boundaries in any sexual activity, and you could receive criminal charges for having sex with a minor.

Now that we have defined consent and covered the importance of understanding how it applies to our dating and sexual relationships, let’s look a little further into what consent is and some red flags to look for in a partner that doesn’t respect consent.

Consent is a clear and enthusiastic “YES!”  If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says “maybe…”, then they are not giving consent and they are not saying “yes”.  Silence also does not equal “yes”; only a clear and spoken “yes” means “yes”.  If a person doesn’t say “no”, it also doesn’t mean “yes”.

Consent means communicating every step of the wayJust because your partner is ok with kissing, it doesn’t mean they are ok with going further.  You must ask permission every step of the way: “Are you ok with this?”

The 4 red flags that your partner doesn’t respect consent:
  1.  They will pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
  2.  They will make you feel like you “owe” them something simply because you’re dating, or because they gave you a gift. Sexual activity is never owed.
  3.  They get angry, sad, or moody if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  4.  They ignore your wishes and don’t pay attention when you pull away or push against them when you are not ready to consent.


Here is a great video that explains what consent means in a super funny and relatable way:

If you find yourself in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, there is help out there for you. Please reach out to STAND! or by calling their crisis line at (888) 215-5555. If you need help defining your relationship, please reach out to by calling their National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866)331-9474 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522.

Options Health is a safe place where you can confidentially come and discuss sexual health, pregnancy, and relationship issues with one of our patient advocates.  Feel free to contact us today to take advantage of our free services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, pregnancy options consultation, STD testing, and abortion aftercareCall us or text us to schedule an appointment. We are here for you and ready to listen!