Yes & No | Exploring Consensual Non-Consent

Consensual non-consent occurs when both parties agree to perform an act of non-consensual activity that has been talked about prior and actually consented upon.

But let’s take a step back and talk about the first part: consent. Consent is clear, given on one’s own accord, informed, sober, changeable, and never pressured.  The issue we’ve been running into with “consent” is that it can vary from situation to situation, it isn’t always a cut-and-dry statement: “I consent,” it can be thought to be implied, it can be used for victim-blaming, and it can change even within the situation itself.  So, we agree, it’s complicated, but it’s such an imperative part of communication, relationships, and any type of physical, mental, or emotional activity. It seems like we just gave you yet another roundabout answer, but hey, it’s a tricky thing to explain. The biggest piece of advice we can give about consent is ask and then ask again, and again. Be open, talk about how you’re feeling – the good, the bad, and the in-between.

Now that we’re (hopefully) a little bit more clear on what consent is, time to get into the topic of this article: consensual nonconsent. This concept is agreeing with your partner to explore some type of fantasy or sexual behavior that would potentially be considered non-consensual.

We pulled some examples from our kink guide, which include:

  • BDSM – “Bondage and Discipline,” “Dominance and Submission,” “Sadomasochism,” “Sadism and Masochism,” and “Slave/Master.”
  • 24/7 – A power exchange relationship that is ongoing, 24 hours and 7 days a week.
  • Bondage – There are many different kinds including rope bondage, suspension bondage, leather bondage, furniture and device bondage, predicament bondage.
  • Breathplay – Restricting breath of self or others, considered edging.
  • CBT – “Cock and Ball Torture”  torture of the testicles and penis.
  • Cane/Caning – Striking someone with a cane.
  • Edgeplay – Breathplay, choking, knife play, play piercing, blood play, fireplay, and gunplay
  • Rape fantasy – Faking a rape sense, can be used as an act of submission but conceptual.
  • TPE – “Total Power Exchange.”  all power is exchanged, including finances and physical property.

+ a bunch more, check them out: here.

But how does it go down?

Consent is given, prior to any sexual activity. Typically, it’s a pretty lengthy conversation, which could be sparked by a fantasy or a Y/N/M Guide. Safe words are often brought up, as well as checkpoints to ensure consent during the non-consensual activities. The root of desire and allure in these behaviors usually lies in control- as giving away your consent to be used, abused, or tortured for sexual pleasure is typically more psychological than physical.

TakeInHand is quoted saying

Consensual non-consent can be a wonderful step toward deep intimacy for those of us who practice domestic discipline. It is a taking away of control that one may be holding on to. My response to that loss of control is a positive surrender of all my resistance to the deepest level of intimacy, for example.

When that control is out of my hands I am at a place of total openness, amazing things can occur when this happens within the bounds of a loving, trusting relationship. The doors swing wide open and the resistance to everything between us just evaporates.


Kinkapedia goes on to inform us that

Consensual non-consent can also be called meta-consent and blanket consent is a mutual agreement to be able to act as if consent has been waived.

It is an agreement where comprehensive consent is given in advance, with the intent of it being irrevocable under most circumstances. This often occurs without foreknowledge of the exact actions planned.

Consent is what separates legally actionable harm from legitimate personal freedom. But there are some legally differentiating terms, such as informed consent which is the concept that consent is offered with sufficient information and understanding of what is being agreed upon, as I’m sure you’re aware, things like alcohol and age can aid in an impairment of mental state or decision making abilities which is considered a state in which informed, rational consent cannot be offered. And it’s worth noting that consent given under coercion and pressure is not legally considered consent.

Contemporaneous Consent is the term that discribes consent that is given but is then taken back. Examples are if someone says something like “no,” or “stop.” These and other terms make you legally obligated to stop performing whatever task is being done to the other person. However, watch one episode of Law and Order: SVU and you’ll know this is easier said than done. So, I’m sure you can see where the lines can get a bit blurred especially if you have a verbal or written contract agreeing to consent to potentially psychologically or physically harming behaviors.

When you get into BDSM culture, they have some rules in place which encourage a more formalized and explicit process. Clear negotiation of consent is the norm (yay!).

Which leads us into an informal negotiation which is the process of discovering limits and interests along the way. Things are up for discussion and consent is granted on a case by case basis. Formal negotiation goes through a comprehensive list of questions and disclosures. This can be a broad process, setting out the boundaries for a long-term relationship. It can also be a narrow process that only addresses one or two specific actions.

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to consent:


Safe, Sane, Consensual is the most recognizable and popular model of consent in BDSM circles, though not without criticism.


Risk-Aware Consensual Kink was created to overcome perceived shortcomings of SSC.


Personal Responsibility In Consensual Kink emphasizes personal responsibility for choices and consequences and has evolved into Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink.

All are valid and different in their own aspects and are worth checking out for more formal instruction if you’re looking to get some good guidelines around consensual non-consent.


Wanna try it?

Cuff-Link gives some great advice:

  • If you are the submissive: Express explicit consent for CNC, and if you wish for the CNC to end, explicitly state that you have revoked consent and/or the relationship whereby CNC as an integral part is over.
  • If you are the dominant: Respect the revocation of consent, whether it is for a set scene or if a relationship comes to an end.

It’s also important to note that there are different types of consensual non-consent within different relationships.

If you’re just playing or hooking up, note that your consensual non-consent could and very well should be limited to that specific activity or time period. It can be very similar when in relationships, and should be talked about before each time you want to engage in these activities but may have a different conversation or vibe. The biggest difference in these situations is when you start to engage in consensual non-consent within a relationship parameter because consent is given once at some point during the forming of the relationship, and it is not revoked until the relationship is ended.

Need some real life advice? This Reddit forum has some great ideas!


Have more questions?

Guess what? We’re here for you! Ask away! Leave a comment or shoot us an email on the contact page. We’re your resource and open to any and all questions you may have.







Co- Founder of Psych n Sex, previous writer and campus educator for the Kinsey Institute & published psychology researcher. Manhattan girl obsessed with post ww2 abstract expressionism, beet juice, vintage clothing & Scandinavia.

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