It’s not the first time I’ve been presented the words spontaneity and consent like they’re complete opposites of a coin, only one happening at a time. Which is so very odd to me. Do people wake up one day six months, three years, or even a decade into a relationship not understanding what is an acceptable interaction between yourself and your partner? Of course you don’t. As you grow and build a relationship (which we could also call a history of interaction) with someone, you come to anticipate how they will react to things. You’ll learn that they hate having their feet touched, but a smack on the ass as you walk by is peachy. You’ll learn that they’re really into being woken up with sex – but only if you made a coffee and put it on the bedside table first. You’ll learn that they love being grabbed around the neck, thrown on the couch and having their face ridden like a thoroughbred on Tuesdays after they’ve had 10 minutes to settle into home after their day, Friday nights as long as you start by 6pm because at 7pm their show is on, or Sunday afternoons – and never more than twice in the same week.
Sound complicated? If you don’t know someone, it definitely is. But that’s why relationships are built over time and build that history of interaction and include little conversations over breakfast like, “Hey, I keep thinking about jumping you one day… Just grabbing you and throwing you down, restraining you with my belt, and destroying whatever you’re wearing so I can fuck you. What do you think about that?” If you can’t have those conversations, you have no business trying that move out. I’d say a good rule of thumb for attempting anything you haven’t discussed is to be 95% or more sure that whatever you’re about to do will land the way you want it to. If you’re verging on 70, 60, or 50%? You’re engaging in very high-risk behaviour. It’s not a matter of if you fuck up; it’s when, and how severe.
Also, please remember that being “okay” with something that happened, or allowing it to happen, is not the same thing as consenting to it. People choose, for a multitude of reasons, to keep going with sexual or BDSM encounters even when they aren’t 100% cool with everything that’s happening, and any choice that gets made around that is completely up to the individual that makes it. The really sad thing is many people are measuring the uncool thing that is happening against shutting down the encounter – the worst possible scenario – or some other unknown thing. If you’ve never once thought, “Well, I don’t like that x is happening… but I think they’ll stop if I just y, so let’s try that.” then I’m going to gently suggest your experiences are not that of the average person and perhaps you should spend some time considering that.
If someone comes to speak to you after one of these encounters they are doing you a favour. They’re offering you a chance to build trust, keep things on the right track and as Guy New York notes, stop the formation of bad habits. It might bring up a lot of feelings for you, but whoever you put off is already dealing with their own feelings. Take your feelings to a trusted friend who will help you check your behaviour.
Not knowing something is going to happen is not the only way to be spontaneous; so I want to really encourage you to think about ways you can combine consent and spontaneity in your sex and kink. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section so we can all benefit, and so we can all do better.