Affirmative Consent and Erotic Tension

If I’m connecting with a woman, and it begins to go in a sensual or sexual direction, I pause for a moment and say: “I’m attracted to you, and I want to feel free to express my desire with you. And, I’m committed to you feeling totally safe and comfortable with me. So if anything I do with you tonight makes you feel even slightly uncomfortable, I want you to say ‘Stop’ or ‘Slow down’ immediately and I’ll stop or slow down.”

This almost always puts a woman I’m already connecting with at ease; she usually thanks me for saying that and tells me how much more comfortable she feels with that in place.

I then often also combine this with affirmative consent. If at any point I want to escalate the physical touch, I will look her in the eyes and say, “I want to kiss you. May I?” etc.

This means she has affirmatively agreed to any touch between us, and she knows she is totally free to stop what we’re doing at any point: we have set up a space where yes means yes, and no means no, layered on top of each other.

Which means, we are both more free to explore our desires and attractions, knowing everything is totally consensual and we can stop easily at any time. That, it turns out, is a very hot space.

Guys are afraid of asking for affirmative consent (and some women are also leery of the practice) because at first it really does seem to kill erotic tension. However, I’ve found that, with practice, affirmative consent increases erotic tension if there is already erotic tension to begin with.

Those words in bold are the key. For a guy to ask, “May I kiss you?” out of nowhere, with zero erotic tension built up, will seem really creepy, invasive, and inappropriate, and almost certainly the answer will be “No.” Some guys have probably tried this, seen that the question made her feel really uncomfortable, and then concluded, “See, affirmative consent makes her feel even less comfortable, we should just stick with how they do it in the movies—going in for the kiss without asking.” But she would have felt even more uncomfortable had he just gone in for the kiss without asking; the problem was not with affirmative consent itself, it was with the fact that there was no erotic tension present.

If the erotic tension is already in the air, then looking a woman in the eyes, standing completely firm in your desire as a man, and saying, “I really want to kiss you right now. May I?”—and knowing that you’ll be completely fine if she says no—can be intensely erotic; it is a level of confidence that blows many women’s minds.

I am able to ask for affirmative consent, and have that asking be an addition to the erotic space, rather than a detraction, because I have learned how to build up erotic tension in other ways: through dancing, through eye contact, through presence, through listening to her and seeing her deeply, through flirtatious banter, through consensual kinky dirty talk (yes, I can make any woman blush in 10 seconds or less, if she wants me to…) All of this is the verbal and energetic “foreplay” before any discussion about whether and how we’re going to touch each other happens.

The reason many men view affirmative consent as a hurdle, rather than a helper, is that they don’t know how to build up erotic tension verbally and energetically first. Asking a woman if you can do some physical act with her, such as kiss her, without having built up erotic tension first, is the conversational equivalent of the unsolicited dick pic.

But actually, so is going in for the kiss without having built up the tension. Going in for a kiss without asking, or asking for it first, are BOTH jarring to a woman if there’s not already erotic tension in the air.

Many men think that affirmative consent is one more thing that it is going to make it harder for them to get laid; when really, the problem is, they don’t know how to build up erotic tension before touch even happens, verbally and energetically (through banter, flirtation, presence, eye contact, dirty talk, etc.) Once you know how to build up erotic tension without touch, asking for affirmative consent for touch actually *adds* to that tension and potentially makes the interactions even hotter.