How To Make Consent Sexy: A Sexologist’s View

A couple laugh together while on a romantic date
We all know consent is necessexy – but how do we make sure we get the ‘sexy’ part right?

Talk of consent is everywhere, but how do you actually do it? We asked sexologist Amy Louise for her advice.

Imagine this: you’re at work and you receive a text message from your partner, FWB or the like. “When I get home tonight, I want you to be wearing ___, would you like that?”

In this moment you can say yes – and provide enthusiastic consent for this sexual fantasy. Alternatively, if their proposal doesn’t get you going, you can say no and suggest something else. This could be wearing a different outfit, going out somewhere or suggesting something for them. It could be watching a movie, eating ice-cream and cuddling.

Sexting throughout the day is fun, erotic and also great way to obtain enthusiastic consent for sex. It also lets you explore fantasies and set boundaries separately to actually engaging in sex. Sometimes taking the talk about sex away from the act of sex can make conversations around consent easier too!

A quick note: as a culture, we often use the term ‘enthusiastic consent’ interchangeably with ‘affirmative consent’. Enthusiastic consent is essentially the erotic practice on affirmative consent, but as long as you’re having consensual fun, you’re pretty much good.

Affirmative consent and the law

Recently New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have all passed affirmative consent laws, and it’s likely this will soon be an Australia-wide thing. These laws require consent to be provided either verbally or with actions and must be done so freely, without coercion. At its core, it means that ‘not saying no’ isn’t the same thing as ‘saying yes’. In practice, these laws provide a foundation for better sexual education, and will provide better protection and support to the victim-survivors of sexual assault.

If you feel a bit daunted by how to ask for consent, that’s okay! Most of us weren’t taught about it in school. Which is why I’m here. Consent can be sexy, sensual, and pleasurable. Examples include:

  • When your partner guides your hand somewhere on their body and nods
  • Checking in with your partner during sex by asking “would you like me to continue?”
  • Telling your partner “it feels incredible when you do X to me” if they are doing something that feels good and you want more

It’s not just Australia that is making moves and passing affirmative consent laws! In fact, the USA has been striving toward this since 1992 when an affirmative consent policy was introduced on a college campus to ensure a greater level of safety and respect for students on campus. California passed the first affirmative consent law in 2014, followed by New York and Illinois in 2015 and Connecticut in 2016.

At the time of writing, New Zealand has not yet defined what constitutes consent under their laws. Both major parties promised to look at consent after the 2023 election though, so we hope things will get moving there soon.

Why consent matters

Legislation is not typically something that arouses most people. Although if that’s your kink, I’m not here to yuck your yum. If you’re reading this, you likely want to enjoy a thriving, safe and healthy sex life. Affirmative consent can give you this and increase your access to greater pleasure by fostering respect and honesty between you and your partner(s). By asking for consent you increase a sense of safety for yourself and partner. And when your mind feels safe, your body is better able to feel greater amounts of pleasure. And yes, that may mean more orgasms!

Of course, mastering consent takes a little effort and time. But once you’ve done that, it’s a tool you’ll use all the time without really having to think about it!

Making consent conversations sexy

If initiating a conversation about consent feels difficult, here’s a few easy examples you can use that facilitate sexual pleasure whilst also respecting your boundaries and your partner’s boundaries:

I really like how it feels when you do _____ to me

This is you providing active consent by telling your partner you like something they’re doing. This positive feedback also helps them know you better. If your partner says something like this to you, you can signal consent to engage in that activity by saying something like “I find doing ___ really hot as well.” Or even just “Me too”.

I know we both had a lot of fun doing ___ last time. What are you craving tonight?”

This is you providing positive feedback on a previous encounter and suggesting you could do it again. You’re inviting your partner to agree and provide affirmative consent for that activity, or suggest something new.

I like it when you touch me here

This is form of consent that works with physical touch, such as you guiding your partner’s hand to one of your erogenous zones. You can also demonstrate if you like the touch to be gentler or firmer.

As you can imagine the above conservation starters can naturally lead into longer verbal exchanges, or even dirty talk. Both sexting and dirty talk are great tools for conversations about desires and boundaries. And they’re also great to get you both aroused and set the foundation for great sex. The ways in which you can give and obtain consent are endless when you think creatively and respectfully.

Breaking the ice

The Calexotics Naughty Bits Dice game is a great way to practice consent
Sex Dice games, like the Naughty Bits Set from Calexotics are a great way to break the ice on consent. Each dice roll is a suggestion for something you might do – and you and your partner can choose whether or not you want to do it.

If you find these conversations don’t come naturally or feel awkward there are many sex games that can help you practice. Get your hands on dice games or card games that to amplify your voice, desires and support you to consider and set your boundaries. The beauty of these games is that they offer prompts that you can choose to enthusiastically consent to – or not – all while flirting and arousing each other.

You can also make some gift cards or vouchers for your partner with different desires and things you would like them to do to you. When they pull a card, they can practice communicating their boundaries by saying yes or maybe “let’s put that one back and re-draw”. Of course there also ready made packs if that’s more convenient or you’re struggling to write down what you really, really want.

Like any game, you always have the right to pass or say no. In fact, saying no is really important as it helps you set your boundaries and share them with their sexual partner(s). And vice versa. This helps us to better understand ourselves and the sexual relationships we share with others. In saying no, you can give yourself permission to explore other options and express what you would rather do.

What if it still feels awkward?

That’s okay! Over time asking for clarification and communicating what feels yummy vs not, will become more natural. In fact, you may find consent talk becomes a core component of your sex life and increases mutual desire and pleasure.

Whether the area you live in has passed an affirmative consent law or not, you are now well equipped to start communicating wants and desires. And enjoy those desires that are mutually consented to. There is no time like the present to start with some of our examples! It may feel awkward, but remember: practice makes perfect. We’ll be touching more on consent in the future as well, so be sure to check back later!