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Sexual consent in long-term relationships: Here’s why it really, truly matters

Published on:3 February 2021, 14:02pm IST
Sexual consent is important even in a long-term relationship. It should never be implicit, but an ongoing discussion between you and your partner.
Grace Bains
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sexual shame
A relationship is about love, not control. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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In 2019, the Bollywood movie Pati, Patni aur Woh courted controversy due to a particular dialogue, where Kartik Aaryan vents to a friend that he can’t ask his wife for sex, nor can he convince her for it, and neither can he deny it to her, because all of these are looked down upon by society. The dialogue might have been viewed as humour by some, but unfortunately, being in a relationship in itself is considered by many as a form of consent. Well, that’s so wrong! 

This happens due to a myopic understanding of the term ‘consent’, where the definition is taken too literally. Simply put, consent is a voluntary agreement between two people. Given that, a relationship, too, can be defined on similar lines. This definition makes it easy to assume that consent in a long-term relationship is implicit, or taken at face value.

Thanks to social media and certain online campaigns, our vocabulary and understanding of healthy relationships have increased multifold. An increasing number of people have gradually begun to realise that consent is an ongoing discussion, and especially so, amongst long-term partners. Any healthy relationship is based on the principle of mutual respect and love. Assuming that a long-term relationship implies consent at all times is a violation of these principles.

A couple in a healthy long-term relationship will value consent and practice it, because a relationship of equals is marked by decisions of both individuals; it has equal value.

It gives way to open and honest communication

We hear over and over again that the key to making your relationship last is good communication. The bottom line is that a relationship, especially one that is long-term, is nothing short of a partnership. It’s a union of two people and functions best, when two people actively participate in it. You can’t make decisions for your partner, because it will lead to them feeling cornered and might even cause them to fall out of love eventually.

See, we all want our partner to care and take into account what we say. This is even more important in the context of consent. If you ignore your partner’s ‘no’, it will simply make them believe that you don’t care about what they want. Sooner or later, this will extend to other spheres of life, and before you even know it, you will become strangers.

sexual consent
A healthy relationship is all about being real. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
No one wants to feel unsafe around their partner

Don’t we wish to be with someone who feels safe, allowing us the space to be vulnerable? Well, a relationship that lacks consent actually does the exact opposite. It can turn out to be a traumatic experience. When requests turn into demands, it can make what is supposed to be pleasant quite murky. One might end up feeling pressured, and that’s not fair at all. Even the thought of it is horrible, and the last person you want to make uncomfortable is your partner. Needless to say, it won’t just make them feel unsafe around you, but will also reduce the respect and love they have for you.

It isn’t just about sex

Long-term relationships are generally marked by a couple’s lives being intertwined. In such a situation, it is best to speak about the respective ideas of consent and come to a mutual conclusion. When it comes to the long haul, consent is the cornerstone that will decide how far your relationship will go, and it definitely isn’t about sex. You need to take into consideration your partner’s comfort for everything, ranging from interacting with an ex to how many drinks they want to have at a particular gathering. Failing to do so will create hostility and dissatisfaction, which has no space in long-term relationships. 

A healthy relationship is based on love, not control

If you think you can do anything with your partner, based on your whims and fancies, is essentially trying to establish your control over them. A relationship, however, isn’t a power struggle. Most people get into a relationship because they love each other. When your partner starts to feel like more of an object, who is being controlled, instead of a companion, it will have an adverse effect on your relationship.

So, hearing a ‘no’ from your partner shouldn’t be taken as something to be hurt over. Instead, you should find peace in the fact that they feel comfortable telling you exactly what they want ,and know that they can be honest with you.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.