A person can legally consent to sex at the age of 16. It is therefore illegal to have sex with anyone under 16 whether they gave their consent or not. You can find out more about the age of consent here
Whatever your gender or sexuality you must always seek consent from someone in sexual situations.
Being unsure in sexual situations is completely normal. Often people need to think about the decision they want to make and this is ok. Give people time to make this decision on their own, without pressure or force. A person has not given their consent until they say yes.
Are you unsure?
How do you figure out what to say yes to and what to say no to? Discuss your boundaries with someone and be honest about what you are comfortable with. Sexual activity doesn’t need to be full penetrative sex, and figuring out what lies within your comfort zone will help when talking to your partner. Remember you can say no to one thing but yes to something else.
E.g. Kissing = yes, touching on top of clothes = yes, touching under clothes = no.
Sometimes you might not be feeling in the mood for sexual activity which is ok. Or you might be waiting for the right person. Giving consent is down to you only and having a mental tick list in your head for what you are comfortable with will enable you to be more prepared if you find yourself in a sexual situation.
Read our Yes and No pages for more guidance on what these decisions can lead to.
How can you tell?
Are you with someone who is unsure about sex? Or met someone new who is holding back? If someone is unsure they may be distant, quiet, tense or avoiding eye contact and if they haven’t given you consent confidently and comfortably then you shouldn’t proceed with any sexual activity. Continuing could put both of you in a risky and unsafe situation. Nobody should be pressurised into giving consent and until that person is 100% sure of their own decision you do not have their consent.
If you are unsure about a situation and want to learn more about consent then please visit our resources page where you can find videos and websites for more information.
Fill in the Spectrum Consent Quiz and find out what you actually know about consent