Your Guide to Consensual Non-Consent

two women practicing consensual non-consent

Trigger warning: We discuss consensual non-consent in this article. This involves consenting adults pretending not to consent to sexual activities. Please use your discretion as to whether or not this article is right for you.

Fantasies about forced sex exist inside the minds of all sexes, in particular, female-identifying people. But why? And can it be explored safely? Yes, and it’s called consensual non-consent. 

Why do we have fantasies about forced sex?

My personal take is that there is a primal element to these fantasies. According to Psychology Today, “The fantasy of submission reflects a desire to escape from the burden of self, from the chore of being responsible, and in charge of your own existence.”  

Some people feel shame around having these fantasies, but I believe they’re just like other fantasies, and shouldn’t automatically be judged as “bad.” Our fantasies don’t imply anything about our mental health or real-life sexual inclinations—they just are. In fact, forced sex fantasies (or consensual non-consent fantasies) are more common than you think.

That said, that doesn’t mean exploring these types of fantasies is easy. Here’s how you can explore this trick “taboo” with peace of mind. 

What is consensual non-consent?

Enter “consensual non-consent,” otherwise known as “CNC.” Personally, I’m a big fan of CNC, though it’s not something I talk about openly at parties. This isn’t because I have any shame around my CNC kink, but because I want to stay sensitive to sexual assault survivors. We never know who will feel triggered by consensual non-consent and it’s important to remember that it might be a tough issue for some folks to discuss. 

Consensual non-consent is sex where consent is given before any action starts, but acknowledges that one partner might say no during the actual acts. When both partners agree to consensual non-consent, they are agreeing on an established set of rules. Obviously, this sort of thing can get very tricky. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind:

You need a partner you know and trust.

First, we’ll define the players in CNC. Let’s call the person perpetrating the consensual non-consent the “top” and the person receiving the CNC “the bottom.”

CNC can be done between two loving and committed partners or a friends-with-benefits type situation, so long as both parties trust one another. Your consensual non-consent partner must be someone open to communicate. Ideally, you and this person have a solid sexual history and know each other well. This will make any sort of sensitive sexual activity feel more comfortable and easier to navigate. 

You’ll need to communicate and provide clear boundaries.

Your level of communication must be at an all-time high. The top must get full and informed consent about every little detail prior to the consensual non-consent. Although this seems counter-intuitive and would break the spell of the CNC, it’s absolutely vital.

It’s absolutely imperative to have a safeword. For the newbies out there, a safe word is a tool in BDSM that can help protect either of you from going too far. It’s agreed upon ahead of time and means full stop of all sexual activity. Safewords can be anything you want—so long as you both remember it. 

After you’ve decided on your safeword, discuss all of your boundaries ahead of time. For example, what body parts are off-limits? Is there anything you’re curious to try? You’ll want to review your interests with your partner ahead of time so you know exactly what desires are on or off the table. 

Once you’ve communicated, test the waters with a short session. Just one small overpowering act, like shoving them up against the wall and ripping or forcing some clothing off.  Don’t go too deep at the very beginning. Like many sex acts, you’ll want to warm up and take it slow to start.

Don’t undermine consent with alcohol or drugs.

As a bottom, I will admit that I took a small shot of vodka prior to one of my CNC sessions just to loosen up. However, do not get buzzed or drunk or in any way impaired by drugs or alcohol prior to the CNC session. It will only make things more confusing and could muddy the water of your consensual non-consent. 

If you do want something to take the edge off, I’d also recommend essential oils, tea, or CBD oil. It’s definitely helpful to take the edge off—so long as you do it safely.

The spirit of “play” or “pretend” must always be present.

CNC is essentially a total power exchange, which means one person (the bottom) is giving all the power to the other (top). This can be really fun and provide a huge release for both partners, especially the bottom.

But the fun only comes when this is done in the spirit of play. After all, this is role play. Though setting the boundaries and consent ahead of time is a really serious conversation, the actual CNC session should be fun for both partners. Remember to take a deep breath and let yourself explore. 

Make it spicy.

It’s important to really set the scene for the bottom. If you’re the top, try to make things exciting for your bottom by exercising force or with dirty talk. The bottom can also surprise the top by trying different things to escape, fight, or even try to pin down their top. The constant shift in power is what makes this fantasy all the more fun to explore. 

Another way to spice it up is to leave the exact timing of CNC a bit vague. For example, a top could set the date for the CNC session, but not reveal the exact time. My CNC top and I chose a date in the middle of the night, but I didn’t know what time. So that built up a lot of anticipation and surprise. Some people like to include an abduction to their CNC. Again, it MUST be consensual.

Extended aftercare is a must.

“Aftercare” is the act of a top nurturing their bottom after the CNC session. The top must “check-in” on the bottom’s emotional and physical state and provide some touch and reassurance so that they know that what just happened was purely play. 

This goes back to consent and communication: you must communicate what aftercare will entail, and schedule lots of time after the session for aftercare. Cuddles, cups of tea, fuzzy blankets, and words of affirmation are aftercare classics, but do what suits you best.

The more intense the CNC, the more aftercare is required. Encourage the bottom to talk about what they liked and didn’t like immediately after the CNC. My advice is to ask “what did you like the most?” and then after they answer, ask “what did you not like as much?” This way, everyone feels good and safe about what just happened.

If you carefully plan and know your partner’s desires and limits and follow these safeguards, you will have a good chance of having safe, steamy, and cathartic consensual non-consent. 

Emily Anne is a bestselling author, sex coach and educator, who specializes in helping people expand their sexual horizons through BDSM and kink. When she’s not obsessively talking about sex, she’s hiking through the Hollywood Hills. Get some sexy education on her Instagram feed.