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Dating and Consent

 

University can be a wonderful place to meet like-minded and attractive people. Statistically, as a postgraduate student, you have a good chance of finding a partner/lover during your degree. Dating and relationships however, can be difficult and confusing. One of the most important things to understand when dating is consent.

 

Consent

Consent occurs when someone agrees to do something sexual with you, such as touching, kissing or having sexual intercourse. Before initiating any contact with anybody, it needs to be totally clear that everyone involved wants it. How do you know if someone wants to do something sexual with you? You ask! Consent doesn’t have to be awkward or hard – in fact, asking first shows respect and allows everybody to feel empowered.

Find ways to ask for consent that feel good to you. Some popular examples include:

  • “Is this ok?”
  • “Can I kiss/touch/etc you?”
  • “Would you like me to kiss/touch/etc you?”
  • “Do you want to kiss/touch/etc me?”

Consent must be continuous – anyone can stop at any time, a “yes” can become a “no”, and a “maybe” is not a “yes”. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Even if you say yes to something, you can still say no 5 minutes later. And just because someone slept with you in the past, doesn’t mean you have their consent for future sex.

Consent must be specific. A “yes” to kissing is not also a “yes” to touching. Consenting to oral sex is not consenting to penetrative sex. You can say yes to some kinds of touching/sex acts and not others.

Feeling confused, coerced, silent, turning a head away, lying completely still, being threatened or intoxicated means consent is NOT being given. In NSW, someone who is under 16 years old is legally incapable of giving consent. While consent is not always spoken, it’s very important to never assume it is being given. Stop and check in, read body signals, and slow down.

 

Using dating apps

Many students meet new partners through online dating/hooking up apps and sites. Dating apps and sites can be a fun way to meet people and allow each individual user to search for potential dates and hook-ups, or screen out people you aren’t interested in. If you are going to meet up with someone for sex for the first time here are a few safety tips:

  • Meet out for a beverage first
  • If you are meeting at someone’s home, get their address in advance and give it to a friend and ask your friend to check in on you after a certain time
  • Discuss safe sex practices first before you meet and always carry your own safe sex supplies
  • Bring your own water bottle and don’t accept drinks
  • If you are sending explicit images of yourself, crop your face out of images that show breasts or genitals, and relock your private album frequently
  • Make sure your phone is recharged and on you.

And remember to always practice consent!

In Australia, some people date more than one person at the same time. If you are dating or sleeping with someone, make sure to discuss whether your relationship is exclusive (your partner is only dating you) or not.

 

Useful resources

University Health Service: (02) 9351 3484

SUPRA Queer Officer:
queer@supra.usyd.edu.au

SUPRA International Officer:
international@supra.usyd.edu.au

SUPRA Women’s Officer:
women@supra.usyd.edu.au

Royal Prince Alfred Sexual Assault Service: (02) 9515 9040 (24 hours)

NSW Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 424 017 (24 hours)

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