"Would you like to stay?" he asked, his hand on my waist and his eyes on mine.
His code name, for now, is Ten, due to his resemblance to David Tennant. It was his New Year's Eve party, after midnight, before one; I knew I'd have to decide soon if I was staying or leaving in order to catch the last train and bus if I was leaving. I'd lined up a ride home in case I wanted to stay longer. But honestly, I'd already decided that I'd stay if he asked. We met at sexy-exploration-welcome parties and had had a lovely time at the last one, but beyond that, he gave me and Murder Cat a ride to the vet and we had excellent conversation all the way there and back, and so I knew I really liked him and wanted to pursue this. We'd had a night full of fond looks and casual touch and people who didn't know me assuming we were already dating, which we weren't.
But this isn't about that; this is about how he asked.
Because he followed that question up with "If you decide at any time that you'd rather go, I'll pay your cabfare home."
Thus removing at a single strike any of the things that might have made me feel trapped and/or pressured there, if, after the last bus, after everyone left, I changed my mind.
1. Made me aware that he understood that consent could be revoked at any time and he would respect that.
2. Made money not a barrier to me leaving whenever I wanted.
He did not yet know that I was a survivor of sexual violence. This was just his baseline for interacting with people - this deep understanding of the multiple factors that could get in the way of enthusiastic consent, and the need to settle for nothing less than unimpeded enthusiastic consent. Getting home is not a problem, leaving here whenever you want is not a problem - given that, what do you want?
And there are other proofs, from that night and now others, but those are more private. And I haven't spoken of this because I wanted his permission to say how he asked (which I remembered to ask him for yesterday), and also because I've been enjoying being on this path with him and figuring out what that means between the two of us. We're a Thing. It is good. <3
And it really started that night when he showed how deeply he understood consent. How important it was to him.