Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Building a Foundation of Respect in Intimate Relationships
AMZNov 13, 2023 read
consent in relationships · sexual boundaries · sexual education · sexual safety and respect · SSC ·
There's an important phrase in the intimacy world: safe, sane, and consensual. These three words represent a critical foundation for sexual safety and respect. To those whos culmination of sex education comes from a sweaty 8th grade gym teacher, this concept probably wasn't covered as well as it could have been.
While I'm sure they were well meaning, there is definitely more to learn that an awkward few hours on a heavily redacted class about the reproduction system.
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAFE SANE AND CONSENSUAL IN YOUR INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS?
The first element of safe, sane, and consensual is safety. Safety is all about taking care of yourself and your partner. This includes using protection during sex, being aware of your own limits and boundaries, and communicating those boundaries to your partner. It also means understanding the risks involved in different sexual activities and taking steps to minimize those risks.
The second element of safe, sane, and consensual is sanity. This refers to mental and emotional safety. Being intimate with a partner inherently is a place of vulnerability. Ideally you want to approach sex and sexuality from a place of mental and emotional health, and to make sure that your partner is in a healthy place as well. This means being aware of your own mental and emotional states and being respectful of your partner's mental and emotional needs. It also means avoiding sexual activities that could cause mental or emotional harm, such as non-consensual sex or sexual coercion.
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The third and perhaps most important element of safe, sane, and consensual is consent. Consent means that all parties involved in a sexual activity are fully and enthusiastically participating of their own free will. It means that each person is aware of what's happening and has given clear and enthusiastic permission for the activity to take place. Consent is ongoing - just because someone consents to one activity doesn't mean they're consenting to everything. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Check in with your partner periodically, and no means no.
For those in the back...
By prioritizing safety, sanity, and consent in our sexual experiences, we can create a culture of mutual respect, pleasure, and wellbeing. Remember to always communicate openly and honestly with your partner, to respect each other's boundaries, and to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all parties involved.
While SSC is the general accepted terms of awareness for sexual safety and respect, other methods have been introduced in recent years to include RACK and the 4C's
for a deep dive on the evolution of this concept, see