People often associate the idea of kink with extreme behavior that is rowdy and can be out of hand. While there definitely are some pretty crazy, exciting things to find in the kink community, I've also found that people who participate in kink are often very compassionate individuals who really look out for one another and who are huge on consent.

Many of these lessons I have learned about consent from being around kinky people are things that anybody could apply to their life.

1. Ask before touching someone, even in the simplest of ways

Some people just don't want to be hugged or have you touch their shoulder, even if you intend it to be a nice gesture. It takes just one second to ask someone before you touch them, so why not try doing that first?

2. Negotiating boundaries for a scene* before it begins is really important

This is your opportunity to tell whoever you are doing something with what you're okay with and what you're not okay with. You don't want them sticking a finger in your ass with no lube? Tell them.

You want to keep your clothes on? Now is when you should let them know that.

*Scene: In the kink community, this is what people call a BDSM related activity or encounter. For example, getting spanked

3. It’s OK to decline a scene if expectations don’t line up

If you and someone had been talking about doing this really awesome thing together but today you just don't feel comfortable, it's okay for you to say no and back out of the situation. It is never too late for that.

4. Don’t re-negotiate during a scene

You and your partner agreed that your clothes would stay on during your fun as part of your negotiation. Now you're halfway into your scene and you're really having a great time and you're in such a good head space. This is when people become easier to manipulate.

If your partner now tried to coerce you into taking your clothes off, you could agree because you're not thinking straight. This is really bad form. Instead of re-negotiating during the scene, just wait until next time to try that new thing that you might be curious about.

5. Always have a safe word

Safe words are good for everyone involved in a situation and should be respected. If someone's head isn't in the right place, someone gets hurt, there was an unexpected trigger, etc., that's when a safe word should be used and everything should stop.

No often works for this, but sometimes a color system or anything else that you and your partner agree on can be helpful as well.

6. If you didn’t talk about it during your negotiation, don’t do it

You might have forgotten to talk to your partner about doing something during your negotiation earlier but now you really want to do that something. They didn't say you couldn't do it, but they didn't say they'd be okay with it, either.

Now isn't a good time to just throw that into the mix with whatever else you're doing. This goes back to point four.

7. If you say no to something at any point, you don’t ever have to explain

If you say you don't want to take off your clothes during the negotiation, you don't have to explain why — it should just be accepted that you don't want to take your clothes off.

If you decide you don't actually want to do a scene with someone before beginning it, you shouldn't have to explain what changed. If you use your safe word at any point, everything should stop and you don't have to tell them why you used it.

You always can explain things if you want to, but you never have to. People should respect that you will make the best decision for yourself and leave it at that. Nobody is ever owed an explanation.

*Scene: In the kink community, this is what people call a BDSM related activity or encounter. For example, getting spanked.