I’ve written this post to assist couples in relationships where non-consensual sex seems to happen. Perhaps it is a recurring theme. Sometimes one person in the relationship thinks it’s not a big thing.

Perhaps you feel entitled to sex with your partner, with or without consent. Perhaps you are in a long-term relationship. Or perhaps they have a new relationship. Or you may be married and have children. Or for some other reason you might feel entitled to have sex with your partner.

If there is non-consensual sexual contact in a relationship, or non-consensual sex, it can be helpful to understand the ‘Tea and Consent’ metaphor.

If you are wondering what non-consensual sexual contact is, then the ‘Cup of Tea’ metaphor might help with that.

Watch this brief video about ‘Tea and Consent’.

What it means

I’m using terms defined by New Zealand Law. How ‘The Law’ defines it.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact means any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object by an individual upon another individual without consent.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact means sexual contact that occurs without effective consent.

Sexual Violation

Under New Zealand law, every one who attempts to commit sexual violation, or who assaults another person with intent to commit sexual violation of the other person, is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. That’s for attempting (trying to do it), regardless of if you are married or not. Regardless of if you have been drinking or not. Regardless of if you have been taking drugs or not. Even if you do not succeed (Crimes Amendment Act 2005 ).

If sexual violation actually occurs, the law states that “every one who commits sexual violation is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years” (Crimes Amendment Act 2005 ) . That’s a lot of time in the pen. So you probably don’t want to do that.

And under New Zealand Law, allowing sexual activity does not always amount to consent.

So it’s vitally important that we each have an awareness around the huge damage caused by attempting non-consensual sexual activity, including attempting non-consensual sexual touching.

Ask for Consent

Asking for consent is like offering someone a cup of tea. And if they don’t want it, don’t give it to them.

Long-term Effects

The long-term effects for the victim of unwanted sexual contact can be present for a long, long time – perhaps longer than the sentence for the person who invited the non-consensual sexual activity into the relationship.

Libido and Sexual Desire

It seems that sexual assault can bubble-up into the relationship for a long time, perhaps inhibiting libido and sexual desire.

Trust building tools include verbal ways of asking about sex. This includes being intentional and clear in asking. Intentional ways of inquiring, like asking if your partner is open to sex, can help heal past hurts over time if you follow the ‘cup of tea’ principle.

As trust is restored, and other hurts are healed, it seems more likely that higher libido can return to the relationship. If there is no grumpiness, no frustration vented around not having sex, and if the relationship improves, then its possible libido can return earlier.

Healing the relationship seems to increase libido in the relationship where no other biological problems are the cause.

Perhaps it’s Not a Problem

It’s helpful if Loss of libido is not seen as a problem. If it is seen as a condition.

If an individual is happy to continue with low or no libido, then perhaps that’s fine. It seems that it is not a problem in the person.

It is only a problem in the relationship if something else is wanted.

Low libido is a condition, not a problem.

If you are ever curious about if your partner is interested in having sex, it might help to remember the ‘Cup of Tea’ metaphor.

Book a session

You can book a couple session with me in Frankton, Hamilton. I also can meet via Zoom if that’s preferred, or if you live far from my practice.


Section 7 of the Crimes Amendment Act 2005 (2005 No 41).