Communicate: a how-to guide

What is this “Yes Means Yes” business?
You’ve probably heard of “No means No”. If someone says no, stop. But what if they don’t say anything?

A lot of people think saying nothing means “go for it”. But assuming yes when nothing is said leads to lots of problems. You might assume that someone wants to go farther. But maybe they don’t. Just because someone doesn’t say anything, doesn’t mean yes.

Just because…
…You made out
…You wore certain clothes
…You’ve done it before
…You didn’t say anything

…doesn’t mean yes. Only yes means yes.

Only Yes Means Yes.
Communicate at every step – ‘How To’ Guide:

Should you ask first? Should you say something or just go along with it?

Many of us feel shy talking about sex. But better to be verbally clear than to hurt someone or do things you don’t want to.

It is important to ASK before initiating any kind of sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the person initiating sexual activity to ask before. How will you know if you don’t ask?

When we have the courage to ask and to say what we want and don’t want, we improve our relationships, and increase our chances of having good sexual experiences.

It is important to be able to say yes, no and slow down. You have a right to stop at anytime. You have a right to slow things down and clarify what you want.

And while communication is an important tool, it is not a 100 % guarantee that the other person will not abuse their power. It is never your fault if someone uses their power in an abusive way towards you.

Here are some ideas about how to communicate about sex:
• Be clear for yourself about your sexual limits and values.
• Ask before going any further.
• Make talking about sex as part of your relationship.
• To give feedback, tell your partner what you like first and then be specific about what you want them to do differently.
• Share if you are feeling shy and embarrassed talking about sex.
Scroll down this page for some ideas on what to say.

Won’t talking about it ruin the mood?
No, it won’t. Communication is the most important thing for good sexual experiences. And that includes deciding not to be sexual.
Talking about sexual limits and desires helps both people feel more comfortable. Both people feel safer knowing where the line has been drawn. And if you change your mind, it is easier to bring up if you have already started that talk.

Sex…So what is the big deal?
Media, friends, adults seem obsessed with sex. So what is the big deal?

Sex can be a powerful experience. Sex education teaches us about body parts, sexual reproduction and intercourse and how to protect against pregnancy, STI’s(sexually transmitted infections) and HIV. But there is less talk about what it means to us emotionally to be sexually active.

Being physically intimate with someone affects how you feel. Each of us has our own personal sense of space, our “personal bubble” . During sexual activity, your personal space blends together. You share a moment of being vulnerable together.

We are all sexual beings, whether we are sexually active or not. Adolescence is a time of learning about sexuality. It is okay not to know everything.

We have a right to safer sex, including emotional as well as physical safety.

Find out more about sex and sexuality. Be informed. Knowing more about sex will help you make better decisions about what is right for you. Check our links for websites that deal with teen sexuality.

Warning: Head games, guilt trips and threats
Sexualized assault often isn’t physically forced. A person can be manipulated or coerced into doing stuff they don’t want to. They may even say yes. But that is not true consent. Don’t make someone say yes. Don’t force someone to be sexual when you know they don’t really want to.

Some examples of manipulation and coercion are:

“ If you loved me you would…”
“ C’mon. It hurts me if we don’t. You worked me all up”
“ What? Are you gay or something?”
“ My last girlfriend/boyfriend did this. Don’t be so uptight.”
“ I was planning to buy you that coat you liked. But, if you don’t want it…”
“ Look, I’ll tell everyone at school you did anyways.”
“ I’ll break up with you.”
“ I’ll hurt you/your pet/your things”


Everyone has the right to sexuality without violence.

Ideas for communication:

• Hey, I really like you. Can I kiss you?
• Um, you know how we sometimes “forget” to use a condom? I don’t feel like I can relax and enjoy it if I am not protected. Let’s keep extras so we don’t run out.
• I really like kissing; can we try something more?
• I really like you but I am not ready for anything sexual yet.
• I like that thing you do with your tongue! Can I kiss you here?
• I don’t hook up with people when there is alcohol or drugs involved.
• Are you okay with this? Do you want to do something different?
• I don’t have sex without a condom.
• You don’t seem really into this. Let’s stop. What’s up?
• Um, let’s slow down.
• What would you like me to do?
• I’m not sure what I want right now. Let’s stop for a minute