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Do you always have to say yes to sex with your partner?

Do you always have to say yes to sex with your partner? | Young Voices Africa

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Are you unsure of what Mwila should do? Confused about whether you always have to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend? And if you’ve had sex with someone before, can you just assume that you can have sex with them again? What about if your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex – does that mean something is wrong in your relationship?

We know these things can be hard to talk about, but here are some facts to help you think through these issues.

Are you working with young people on these issues? Our facilitators’ guide, worksheet and comic strip will help you lead a discussion on consent and relationships.

Download all files and the video for WhatsApp sharing [zip file].

Fast facts: Sexual consent

Taking part in any kind of sexual activity with someone else should involve giving and getting agreement. This is also known as sexual consent.

Consent requires a clear and enthusiastic yes. If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says “maybe,” that isn’t consent.

You should always ask for consent and give consent every time you have sex.

You always have a right to say no to any form of sex or sexual activity – it doesn’t matter who the other person is, what your relationship is, what you’ve done with them or others in the past. It is the same whether you’re having sex for the first time with someone, or if you’re in a long-term relationship.

Consent is an ongoing process – you might agree to sex earlier on and then change your mind – you might agree to one type of sexual activity but not to another – everyone has the right to do this.

Giving your consent and getting your partner’s consent may feel a bit awkward but ultimately sex is about communication and can and should be a positive and pleasurable experience when it’s based on mutual consent.

You should not assume that your partner will want to have sex just because you’ve had sex in the past. Similarly, if you feel pressured to have sex or feel too afraid to say no – that’s not OK, and may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Sex is only one aspect of a good relationship and having sex is not proof of love or guarantee fidelity. If your partner doesn’t want to have sex remember that they are saying no to sex, not to you.

Explore this issue

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What’s sexual consent? How do I get it? How do I give it? And how does it work ‘in the moment’?
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All relationships should be based on respect, honesty, trust and communication.
Am I ready for sex advice
Advice about how to decide when you’re ready to have sex for the first time.
Last updated:
11 November 2020