Find a way to ask that feels natural.
The gold standard of consent is a clear and verbal “yes,” according to Julia Bennett, the director of education at Planned Parenthood. And the only way to get a verbal “yes” is to ask for what you want. So, instead of just kissing someone without knowing if they’re okay with that, literally say, “Can I kiss you?”
If that feels too awkward, and it might, then feel free to switch up the phrasing in a way that feels more natural to you — just make sure you’re still being clear about what you want to do. “There’s no right way to ask,” Bennett says. “There are lots of ways we can talk about sex.”
Maybe, for you, asking for consent sounds more like, “I’ve been dying to kiss you all night…” and then a pause to let your partner respond. If they’ve also been dying for a kiss all night, then you can go ahead and kiss them (or maybe they’ll kiss you!). But, if they haven’t been wishing for a kiss, the pause gives them time to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
For some people, it might feel more natural to say something like, “How would you feel if I kissed you right now?” or “What do you want to get out of tonight?” No matter how you decide to say it, the point is to ask your partner what they want, and give them time to respond.