What is Consent?
We've consulted with RAINN to work towards an Archer community that is built on consent. After all, consent is foundational to establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries and relationships. RAINN defines consent as "an ongoing process of discussing boundaries and what you’re comfortable with.”
Consent is more than whether someone has said “yes” or “no” to engage in sexual activity or any other interaction. Consent is about respecting someone’s autonomy, or their right to make their own decisions. Specifically, consent is:
- Affirmative - communicated enthusiastically and unambiguously
- Voluntary - given freely, and not through pressure or force, or while incapacitated
- Ongoing – continuous throughout the course of the interaction
- Mutual – all individuals involved in the interaction/activity agree to participate
- Reversible – able to be withdrawn at any time and for any reason
- Informed – all involved individuals know what specific activities they are consenting to
When it comes to dating in person or connecting online, there are many opportunities to seek consent and respect the boundaries of others. These include the sharing of images on the app as well as via text, the discussion of fantasies, sexting interactions, and more.
Consent is often referred to in the context of intimacy, but it can also be applied to any interaction between people – including sexual, conversational, in writing or in person. The following is a non-exhaustive list of consent best practices. Above all, remember that:
- You can refuse or withdraw your consent at any time and for any reason. You do not need to give a reason and you do not have to explain yourself to the other person(s).
- If someone crosses your boundaries and/or causes you harm, it is NOT your fault, and support is available.
Tips for Communicating about Consent and Boundaries:
- Assess your date's ability to consent. If your date is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent, then initiating any sexual contact with them is a violation of their boundaries. This is a crime in most legal systems as well as a violation of the Archer Terms of Service. Do not engage in sexual activity with someone who is intoxicated, passed out, otherwise incapable of saying "no," or seems unaware of what is happening around them. Remember that even if someone doesn’t outright say “no” while in these states, you do not have their consent.
- Ask permission before any physical contact. "No" should always be treated as "No."
- Remember that a "Yes" to kissing, for example, is not a "Yes" to anything more than that, and that the absence of a clear "No" doesn't mean a "Yes."
- Don't assume that someone wants to have sex just because they drink heavily, dress provocatively, or agree to go to your place.
- Communicate clearly and check in regularly. Use words, actions, or other signals (verbal or nonverbal) to communicate your interest. For example, if your date asks if you want to be kissed, and you're not sure yet, say "No" or "Let's hold off on that." It can be helpful to pay attention to nonverbal communication, such as avoiding eye contact, silence, or lack of movement. However, it's best not to make assumptions about how your date is feeling. You should always check in with your date to ask how they’re feeling, especially when you are unsure about whether or not you have their consent.
- Handle rejection gracefully. The date is going well, but when you invite them back to your place, they say “no.” What do you do?
- Hearing "No" can be hard, but saying "No" to someone who takes it poorly can be a frightening experience. You don't want to be the kind of person who makes someone afraid to refuse you because that can lead to intimidation and coercion. Take a moment to collect yourself before you respond, acknowledge and move on. "Okay, no problem!" You can even thank them for setting a clear boundary.
- It's important that you do not attempt to change your date's mind, pressure or bargain with them, or make them feel guilty for "wasting your time." Treat your date the way you want to be treated.
- Know your rights. Remember: "You can withdraw your consent at any time, for any reason,” even if you consented to the same act/situation previously. You can slow things down or stop them entirely. Any unwanted touch is a violation of your boundaries.
Tips for when you're connecting on the app or via text:
- Ground yourself. Be mentally prepared for rejection. Understand that rejection is part of the human experience, and being rejected doesn't mean there is something wrong with you or make you a bad person.
- Be mindful when discussing fantasies and/or sharing photos. It is important to communicate regularly with the person you’re connecting with, especially when sharing explicit sexual content in messages or photos, and keep in mind that everyone has the right to change their mind at any time, even if they were okay with receiving such messages or photos before.
- Know yourself: How comfortable are you with saying "No"? Does the thought of disappointing someone make you feel guilty or nervous?
- If yes, take time to think about what your boundaries are and practice setting and communicating those boundaries with others. You can even ask a friend to help you practice.
- How good are you at respecting "No"? Does being turned down make you angry, and do you sometimes lash out in response?
- If so, keep in mind that this can make the other person feel unsafe. Practice responding in a kind and easygoing way - instead of getting defensive, retaliating against the other person, or trying to change their mind, consider their perspective and what they might be thinking and feeling. If you’re trying to find ways to let them know you heard them and respect their choice, consider language like, “thanks for telling me” or “we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
Tips for when you're first meeting up:
- To start, remember that going on a date doesn't mean you–or your date—are agreeing to any physical or sexual intimacy.
- Set up a Safety Check-in: Make sure a friend knows where you're going and when, and set a time to call or text them by, to let them know if things are going well. In the event they don't hear from you, let them know what steps you would like them to take.
- Notice how well your date listens to you. If, for example, you turn down your date's offer for another round of drinks, and they try to change your mind, or they get upset in a way that makes you feel guilty, that can be a useful insight into your date's future behavior. Boundary violations can increase over time, so something like being pressured to drink more alcohol can lead to more frequent and severe boundary violations.
- Notice how your date makes you feel. Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable saying “no.” If you don't feel comfortable, make a note of that feeling.
- Maybe your date seems to be giving mixed signals that make you feel uncomfortable. This can be a sign that they're not yet comfortable with you either, and that they don't quite know what they want yet or they want something else entirely. The only way to know for sure is to:
- Ask for clarification. Sometimes you have to be a little vulnerable and ask your date what they mean, whether they're enjoying themselves, and other direct questions to gauge their interest.
Tips for assessing the meetup:
- Reflect on what went well, and what didn't, and evaluate how you feel. Did you leave the date feeling listened to and like your feelings were considered? Do you feel uncomfortable or for any reason, or do you feel like your boundaries were not respected?
- Report the profile if someone you meet has made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If your date violates your consent, including pressuring you into agreeing to something you didn't want, overriding your stated boundaries, or harming you physically in any way, let our team know.
Seek additional support. Please review our Resources page for organizations that provide services to people who have experienced sexual assault and coercion.