I’ve learned a lot from co-hosting cuddle gatherings over the years.
While these events are strictly platonic, connective, and a lot of fun, they can also bring up a lot of considerations around consent, boundaries, and what it means to be intimate, while not romantic, with other humans.
It’s been an impactful process of holding space, playful presence, and seeing where my own edges lay.
As the importance of consent continues to be at the forefront of our collective consciousness, something I notice that comes up for me is the question of what it means for me to ask for consent, not so much in regards to gender issues, but simply in the idea of what it means to be at choice and freedom.
I believe, on a deep level, we all like being at choice.
Often, something as simple as hugging someone, rubbing their shoulders, or seemingly doing something nice for them when they haven’t asked can be welcome, meaningful, and innocent gestures of connection.
The shadow aspect of this is we also often accept things from others more so because it’s what’s expected, rather than being something we’re actually a yes to.
Most times, for everyone involved, this is ok, and even practical as it helps to make the world go round.
But something I’ve noticed for myself in my exploration of connection and intimacy is that the more personal freedom I feel, the more integrity and affirmation I experience around what I’m doing and how I engage with others.
Creating and Maintaining Relationship Integrity
When I speak of integrity, it’s important to define it as what gives our Being solidity rather than being about the right and wrong of morals and ethics.
Like a boat or a bridge, the more integrity we have, the more stable, functional, and useful we become.
For me, what helps me feel in integrity and more at ease with myself, the other person, and the situation, is when I ask before offering or doing something for someone.
I’ve found that when I don’t do this, I tend to feel a little bit like I’m pushing something onto someone, and even though most times it comes from a well-intentioned place, I’ve found that when I don’t get permission from the other person I tend to feel not feel as good as I would like.
This is perhaps why buying a gift for someone can sometimes be so hard. Will they like it? What if it’s not something they’re into? Is it even something they actually want or would use?
While a birthday present is probably one of the few exceptions that fully welcome a dash of mutual mystery and surprise, how I see this playing out in other areas of relationship is that it creates more distance between our hearts and desires.
Clarity, Choice, and Ambiguous Situations
All too often, we end up in ambiguous situations where no one is really clear why something is happening, who it’s for, or who is actually at choice (the key here is everyone is always at choice).
I don’t believe our minds do very well with this kind of ambiguity. Sure we’re used to it, and so we’ve adapted to accepting the muddiness of many social situations, but I also see that it activates our mind and nervous system in ways that aren’t always conducive to authentic connection and trust.
What I see happening more often than not, is how we sacrifice bits of our integrity, and as a consequence, our natural vitality.
This may be fine in daily situations, but when it comes to our closer or more intimate relationships, these unspoken dynamics can over time create an environment that erodes the quality of choice and freedom of those in our lives can experience.
Practically, this means asking for consent before doing something with or for someone.
Something as simple as asking, “would you like to share a hug?,” “would you like some water?” or even “can you go to the market with me?” can be rich ground upon which to build foundations of integrity, stability, and trust.
Finding Balance in a Wobbly World
I don’t believe it’s beneficial, practical, or affirming to continually be in question of whether something we’re doing or about to do is ok.
But when it comes to interactions and engagements where open hearts and tenderness are present, it seems wise and kind to add an extra layer of awareness and consideration.
That every opportunity offered to others for them to choose their sovereign yes and no (and our ok’ness with their no), offers them a loving step towards their own personal empowerment and freedom.
The best part is, when we do receive a yes from someone we gain more than just permission, we gain Freedom. Freedom that allows us to put ourselves fully into what we’re doing without wondering if it’s ok or if the person actually wants what we’re giving or doing for them.
What’s Good For You Is Good For Me (and We)
It seems important to explicitly say this concept of personal freedom is as much for you ask it is for the person we may be engaging with, if not perhaps more.
Through offering radical choice to others, we gain full access to our inner freedom and are able to meet the yes’ of life full and open-hearted.
We live in a time when there is much opportunity to shift into higher levels of awareness and consideration, individually and collectively.
Let’s support each other in our courageous efforts to create loving paradigms of intentional relationship, permission, and mutual freedom.
Won’t you join me?
International Day of Consent ’21 🌞