Do you know your Sexual Relationship Rights? Many of us will be in a sexual relationship at some point in our lives. We are taught what not to do in a relationship; don’t be selfish, don’t force your partner to do something they don’t want to do, and don’t abuse your partner in any way. These are universal rules and most people follow these rules.
When is the last time you were taught about YOUR sexual rights in a relationship? Unfortunately, there are a lot of “unwritten rules” that are harmful and persist to this day. One example is the assumption that “you should just be able to tell what someone wants without having to ask or say anything.” Such unwritten rules are illogical, ridiculous, and can be dangerous.
Here are YOUR Sexual Rights in a relationship.
- You have the right to communicate with each other. For some people, it is hard to speak up in a relationship because they are focused more on the partner’s feelings than on their own. Maybe you want to say something and you are afraid doing so might hurt your partner’s feelings – so you stay quiet. Your feelings and boundaries are equally important! You deserve to have an equal voice in every relationship. To be able to speak openly is your right – without guilt or shame. When a person discovers his/her voice and it is honored, freedom exists for you to be you!
- You have the right to be asked for consent and to have your answer respected. Many people have been taught to rely on body language as a way of figuring out what your partner wants. Body language is unreliable (click here to read recent article on body language). Your partner should be asking you if you would like to hold hands, kiss or more. Anytime your partner wants to do something that involves your body and/or your boundaries, your partner should be asking you and respecting the answer.
- You have the right to withdraw consent at any point during sexual activity. Unfortunately, some people assume that once they give consent, it would be rude to change their mind and withdraw the consent. That is not rude. That is your right to always have a choice with exactly what sexual activity you are engaging in. A caring partner doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity with you that you do not absolutely want to participate in yourself.
(When I say you can withdraw consent at any point, I mean any point. You can be in the middle of an intimate act and you have the right to stop and have your choice be respected instantly.)
- You have the right to be free of owing sexual activity to your partner. Some people think that if a partner does something nice for you, you are expected to reciprocate with sexual activity. You are under no obligation to “return the favor.” Intimacy should never be used as “currency” in a relationship.
- You have a right to have a sexual voice. Sadly, some elements of our society degrade females for being sexual and that behavior can lead to individuals feel guilty about having healthy sexual feelings. All genders and sexual orientations deserve to know experiencing sexual wants and attraction can be a wonderful and healthy part of life. If a person is asexual, that person may not have sexual urges and that is to be equally respected at all times. Your partner should want to learn what you want, don’t want, like, and don’t like. How? By asking and honoring your voice.
- You have the right to be treated with respect. Respect should mean to be valued equally, and to be treated with dignity and respect. Any form of degradation is not okay – whether telling jokes that make a partner look bad or using power over a partner – including making all the choices in a relationship. A partner expecting you or pressuring you to participate in sexual activity that you find degrading is not okay.
- You have the right to leave a relationship at any point. Every day you hear stories about people who are in relationships they don’t want to be in them. Some people feel that they need to stay because they don’t want to hurt their partner, or because of the amount of time that they have already been in a relationship. Some people feel trapped in a relationship and they feel that they can’t leave. You always have the right to leave. You deserve to be in a healthy, respectful, and loving relationship.For people in abusive relationships, leaving can be scary on many levels. Local sexual assault and domestic violence shelters are wonderful resources to turn to in such times.
- You and your partner have the right to conduct your sexual relationship in the manner you have mutually agreed upon that gives both of you equal respect in having your boundaries respected at all times. One of the most egregious mistakes that couples make is thinking they have to act a certain way in a relationship.If you want to meet purely for intimacy, and this is what you have both agreed upon, that is your choice. You have the right to craft your relationship in a way that you both agree upon and feel equally fulfilled. Don’t hold yourselves up to the “unwritten rules” that are floating around in popular culture. Only you and your partner will know exactly what is it right for your relationship.
What are additional sexual relationship rights that need to be addressed? Add yours to the comment section below.