Info For Teens
Ask the Experts
Does saying I don’t know before sex count as consent? I told my ex when we were dating no when we were making out we ended up with our clothes off and he put a condom on but when he asked I said I didn’t know.
This is a really good question, and one that a lot of people wonder about. Consent might seem like the kind of thing that’s really straightforward, but it can be a little confusing. Consent means saying “yes.” If there’s any doubt, it’s probably not consensual. When there’s doubt about consent, it’s not okay to continue with sex. Your ex should have respected that you said “no” beforehand, and that you didn’t say “yes” when things continued.
When people talk about consent, they often use the phrase “no means no.” But saying “yes” is really important, too. When partners give each other what’s sometimes called enthusiastic consent — a straight-up “yes!” — then no one has to make any assumptions about what’s okay during sex.
We all have the right to say no to sex, and even saying “yes” isn’t binding. You have the right to change your mind at any time, for any reason. You are the only person who has the right to set — or change — the boundaries around what feels comfortable for you. If you agree to something but then change your mind, you have the right to stop it immediately. Partners who truly care about each other listen to one another every step of the way.
If you have other questions or want more information about what consent means, The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network has both online and phone support.