For several years the popular and professional media have discussed the importance of mutual consent before sex occurs. This is fine, but what are we consenting to? What are each person’s expectations if sexual activity ensues? What would be the meanings and motives for the sex?

One need not and cannot look far without noticing the emphasis on consent. The relative ages of potential participants and their mental state are often a focus. If one person is under the legal age of consent, or if drugs or alcohol are involved, can real consent happen? Without clear consent, sexual abuse and rape are sometimes an issue.

Sex is not a privilege—sex is our basic human right. However, we do not have the right to coerce anyone into sex. What are we agreeing to? Are we agreeing to intercourse, oral sex or hand stimulation? Do we expect monogamy if we have sex (sounds like a meal—I hope gourmet!). Or, are we agreeing to a casual fling or a friend with benefits?

The problem is that most new lovers do not have a pre-sex discussion to determine if real consent is present, and what the nature of the consent is. More typical is escalating making out and clothing flying off without any real discussion.

Since unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and hurt feelings can result from sex, it is imperative that potential lovers discuss and agree about contraception, disease prevention and what sex would mean. What are the motives and meanings each person would attach to hot sex?

Consent is the focus in many sex education programs and in the media, including social media. Rarely do the educators, speakers or authors include a discussion about what we are agreeing to. This is myopic. We miss a lot by not including what each person would want, demand or wish for.

There are sophisticated approaches to consent. But most consent models or theories miss the rest of the story. How often do we discuss sexual preferences for specific sexual acts beforehand? Why is the focus only on the process of consent? Some consent models pose as the final answer to mutual consent, but few such models include details about the next step.

Sex does not have to be a problem at all. Our society makes sex a problem by only focusing on problems. Sex should be a genuine joy and a tantalizing pleasure. Sex educators in Scandinavia and Holland do get to the next step of a variety of sexual pleasures. This is because these societies are more sex positive than the U.S.

We would not have so many sexual problems if we focused on consent AND on what we are consenting to. In my sex therapy and couples counseling practice I deal with both steps. I deal with the whole story. I urge my clients to have a thorough pre-sex discussion and between sex conversations to be certain that they are on the same page so they maximize sexual ecstasy.

I help clients fine tune sex. I am thorough and I use my erotic imagination, which most therapists seem to fall short about. Sex therapists need to be certified by AASECT, and they need to have enough sexual experience themselves to really help clients celebrate pleasure and orgasms without undue problems.

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