Talking about consent in a relationship
Knowing how to talk to your partner about your sexual needs can help strengthen your relationship
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Consent is often spoken about in the context of being intimate or engaging sexually with someone for the first time or with someone you have only recently met, but consent must be present in all sexual engagements, and this includes those with your long-term partners.
If you are in a long term relationship you may feel it is understood that your partner will want to be intimate with you, but you should never presume this regardless of how long you are together.
That’s why it’s important to have conversations with your partner to make sure you are on the same page and understand what you are both comfortable with. By doing this you can help build sexual and emotional relationships that meet both your needs and make you happy.
How to have an open conversation about consent
By talking about your sexual needs and consent with your partners you can help ensure that consent is given, and this can help to strengthen your relationship together.
Telling your partner you don’t want to have sex
Sometimes you may feel that you have to be with your partner sexually when they want you to. This pressure may not come from them but can come from yourself as you do not want to upset them or make them feel unwanted. You should never feel like you have to be intimate or have sex with someone, regardless of the reasons.
If your partner wants to be sexually intimate and you are not in the mood, be honest with them and tell them how you are feeling. Knowing how to say no can help to make this conversation easier. In creating open conversations with your partner, hopefully, they will then also feel confident to speak to you honestly when they do not want to be intimate.
Talking to your partner when they don’t want to be intimate
If you want to partake in any sexual activities with your partner, remember to make sure that this is also what they want before you begin.
If your partner does not want to have sex or engage in any sexual activity, it’s important not to make them feel bad for their decision. Although you may feel disappointed, respecting their decision can help to strengthen your relationship and improve your sexual experiences as a couple. Talk to your partner about how they are feeling and let them know that you respect their choice.
What to do if someone in a relationship stops wanting to have sex
If you or your partner decided that you do not want to be intimate, this is something that may be a problem for one or both of you. It can be difficult for one half of a couple to understand why their partner would no longer want to be sexually intimate with them, and if this happens an open conversation is needed
The conversation is not to convince either of you to change your mind, but to understand the reasons why one or both of you has decided you don’t want to, and to agree on what the next step for you should be as a couple. Most people go through phases where they will not want to have sex or be intimate, while for other people they may decide that they no longer want to engage in sexual activities altogether.
Regardless of the reasons, it is important to always respect that decision, and only be intimate if both people in the relationship consent to it.
Speaking to your partner about your sexual needs
Sometimes it can be frustrating if your partner only seems to want to have sex when it suits them, but not when you want to. If this happens, having a conversation about your sexual needs with your partner can help to create a situation in which you are both happy.
No one should ever have to engage sexually when they don’t want to, but only being intimate when it suits one person can be difficult for the other. Being intimate together is something that you should both enjoy and can bring you closer together. Be honest with each other and speak about your sexual needs to find a situation you are both happy in.
Knowing how to talk to your partner about your sexual needs can also help to strengthen your relationship.
Want to learn more about consent:
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