Betty Martin is the creator of The Wheel of Consent which outlines four kinds of touch. She’s generously put a lot of material on You Tube, and the reason why it’s so good is that you think ‘that’s right!’ and ‘that’s simple’. Of course, it isn’t simple. She makes it appear so because she’s a brilliant teacher. You can also find a lot of material on her website http://www.bettymartin.org
Two pairs of the wheel create four kinds of touch
The Wheel of Consent is composed of four sections divided into two pairs, which can be described as giving/ receiving and taking/allowing.
An illustration will help. Suppose your lover starts doing something. Stroking you, for example. You haven’t asked for it, but it’s ok. in due course, your partner says “well, I have been giving you all this touch, now I want you to give something to me”. You are furious. And you say “You weren’t giving, you were taking! And now you want to pretend it was giving so you can take even more!”. An argument ensues. The ‘giver’ is offended. The ‘receiver’ is indignant.
In Betty’s terms, it’s only giving when it’s asked for. Otherwise it’s taking. Taking isn’t bad, but we need to own it. But it’s important, because it’s the engine of desire.
When we reflect on it, we can see that we mix these 4 quadrants up repeatedly. Take oral sex for example. Your partner asks you to lick her. But neither of you stay in the giver/receiver mode. You expect her to show her arousal and appreciation. She feels obliged to reassure you how much she’s enjoying the experience, rather than just receiving it. It’s messy, and produces a lot of unnecessary pain.
In my work with couples, this is a perennial issue, so I will give the couple exercises where it’s clear who is doing the taking. The exercise is for them. So long as there’s active consent, the receiver doesn’t have to do anything. They can be excited, or still, or enquiring, but what they feel is their own business. They don’t have to reassure the partner that they’re doing a great job.
In the other pairing, the person who asks for something is responsible for their own pleasure. If they’re not getting what they want, they need to give better instructions, and not blame the giving partner, or hope they’re telepathic. All the giver has to do is carry out what the other asks for, with an open heart, and to stop when they’re not in active consent anymore. That’s it.
If you want to find out more, you can also visit http://www.SchoolofConsent.org