As a part of W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s ongoing education efforts, volunteers got together just in time for Valentine’s Day to reflect on the importance of healthy dynamics in dating relationships. As a group, we focused especially on developing a definition of consent that would encapsulate the broad variety of valuable relationships that exist, because as different as each relationship can be, all have potential to benefit from healthy communication. We agreed that consent means more than one isolated conversation, and that it can be an enthusiastic process rather than a chore—as one volunteer framed it, the best iteration of consent is not just “yes,” but, “yes, please!” Together, we acknowledged that ultimately the best way to guarantee legitimate consent is through open, respectful communication among all partners in a relationship.
In addition to analyzing the bigger picture, each volunteer added a personal touch to the conversation by creating an individual “Dating Bill of Rights.” The volunteers produced a collection of customized edicts outlining what kind of treatment they expect and require from a relationship, and the collective results manifested some of W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s favorite things: thoughtfulness, equality, humor, and (of course) love! Take a look at some of the lists we created and feel free to send us your Dating Bill of Rights.
- I have the right to spend as much time as I want with loved ones and friends.
- I have the right to make my own decisions.
- I have the right to not be emotionally or physically abused.
- I have the right to speak my mind.
- I respect your thing. You respect my thing. We will respect our thing.
- Communication is mandatory.
- Deep breaths are also mandatory.
- We will understand that support comes in many forms.
- One 5-second kiss will be had each day we are together.
- Quality vs. quantity in time
- I need to feel SAFE to share how I feel, to disagree with my partner, and to be myself.
- Mutual RESPECT.
- Open, honest COMMUNICATION (by both partners).
- Enjoy spending TIME together.
- SUPPORT each other, want to see each other succeed.
- Have FUN together; LAUGH.
- Awareness of big-picture things: privilege, racism, classism, etc. Care about the role we play in the COMMUNITY, the world, etc.
- Mutual respect.
- Open communication.
- Non-violent interactions.
- Trust & honesty.
- Sense of humor.
- Negotiating conflict resolution.
- Supporting each other’s goals.
- Time together and apart.
- Investment in knowing each other well.
- Being willing to have uncomfortable and serious conversations.
I have the right…
- To feel safe;
- To feel loved;
- To be respected;
- To spend time alone or with other friends and family;
- To be my true self;
- To communicate openly;
- To have outside hobbies and interests;
- To be supported.