Sexual Communication & Consent

Whether a one-night stand, casual fling, or long-term relationship, talking about sex is essential for obtaining sexual consent, and ensuring those involved can communicate their likes and dislikes. Sexual communication with our partner(s) should become a part of every intimate and/or sexual encounter. However it can be difficult or awkward to know where to begin, so here’s some quick info about why it’s important and how to get started. If you’re interested in a full workshop, you can request one from our Sexual Health Education Coordinator here or check out when the next one’s coming up here

Creating a Sex Positive Culture at SF State:

  • Feeling comfortable with identifying or exploring your gender expression, sexual orientation and sexuality
  • Practicing and promoting healthy, safe, and consensual sexual behaviors with yourself and/or others
  • Respecting your own body as well as others
  • Learning and understanding the importance of practicing safer sex
  • Practicing consensual communication during any sexual encounters regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, ability or race

Encouraging Sexual Communication:

Open communication with your sexual partner(s) will help everyone involved have a better understanding of each other's wants, needs, and comfortability. Sex is being able to connect with your partner or partners, to share yourself with people in an intimate way through trust, respect, boundaries, and mutual understanding of each other. It should be a fun and safe experience!

Consent: Do You Have A Yes?

Consent is a mutual agreement to engage in any verbal and/or physical behaviors. . You can use the acronym FRIES to remember that consent is Freely given, Reversable, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific.  . “No” means no. Sexual activity should ALWAYS be consensual and NEVER be convinced or coerced. 

Consent can be practiced by communicating your wants and needs to your partner(s) with phrases like:

  • Would you feel comfortable if we try _____?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Is this okay...

Is this okay...

  • Do you want us to slow down?
  • Do you want us to go any further?
  • Do you want me to stop?

Bedroom talk:

Practice communicating your wants and needs to your partner(s) with phrases like:Would you feel comfortable if we try _____?

  • What do you want to do?
  • Can I go down on you?

Checking in during intimacy and sex ensures both you and your partner(s) are still consenting, comfortable, and communicating what’s wanted and/or needed. Some check-ins you can use are:

  • Is this okay?
  • Do you want us to slow down?
  • Do you like that?
  • Do you want me to stop?

Sexual Communication also includes:

  • Knowing your STI status and talking about getting tested with you partner(s) (get tested for STI’s and talk about it with your partner(s))
  • Communicate what you and your partner(s) want from the relationship
  • What type of safer sex supplies you’d like to use: condoms, lube, dental dams, gloves, birth control methods, etc.

Examples of Consent:

  • “I really want to kiss you. Do you want me to?”

    • If they say “yes” and seem happy, that means they’re consenting, and you can kiss them. 
    • If they say “yes”, but seem unsure or worried about it, they are NOT consenting. Check in again by saying “Are you sure? We don’t have to do that.”
    • If they are incapacitated, or unconscious, they CANNOT consent.
    • If they say “no,” or “I don’t know,” or don’t say anything, they’re not consenting, and you need to stop and ask what they’re feeling/thinking.

Here are some other ways to say “no.” 

  • I don’t like that.
  • I’m not into that.
  • I’m not ready for that.
  • I don’t feel like it today.
  • I really like you, but I don’t want to do that right now. 

    If you ever feel unsafe and/or are forced into any sexual activity:

    For immediate support and reporting, contact SF State police

    For confidential reporting and counseling, contact SAFE Place or visit their resource page.


    For further support and health services: