These are the broad outlines of how I conduct and experience sexuality and sexual relationships.
(*) Consent is key. All things flow from consent. For me, this means I am responsible to be in a state where I can joyfully, clearly and excitedly extend and receive consent.
(*) I will be fully present during sex. I won't be thinking about something else, I won't be planning the rest of my day. I will be there with you - all of me, mind, body and spirit. And this is true too for casual sex. I don't get why people have consensual sex and are not fully there. It happens too often in our society and I find it deeply disturbing. IIf one is not fully present, then I question if consent was every fully given or received. If you are incapable of giving or receiving consent - for whatever reason - don't have sex.
(*) Pleasure is the reason for sex. The reason for sex for me is always pleasure - my own and giving others pleasure. I love both - it's one of the reasons I switch. I cannot only receive or only give pleasure. Many people link love and sex - cannot have sex without love - and that's cool. But I do not. I can show and experience love through sex but I also show and feel love back in many other ways. I would not want to be in a romantic relationship without sex. But love is so much more than sex that I cannot link them exclusively together.
(*) I did not grow up pagan but Christian like so many other people. However, my sexual ethics have always been pagan and I just did not know this. The common pagan phrase '... all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals' (Starhawk's adaptation of Doreen Valiente's original [http://www.reclaiming.org/about/witchfaq/charge.htm…]
) is something I take very seriously. Sex is not automatically worship for me. But it can be life-affirming, healing, and energizing. It can also 'just' be for pleasure's sake. (I hate the devaluing of pleasure that Christian ethics seem to take as bedrock.) The goddess and god approve of both. Sex is life-affirming when done with consent and full presence.
(*) I ask for what I want. Sometimes I don't get it. (Then there is pouting. jk!) But sometimes I do. Sometimes it scares me to ask for what I want. It is sometimes hard to listen to what others want.
(*) Saying no is a gift. Hearing no is a gift. It is hard to say no sometimes to what others want. I like making my partners happy. But I cannot be all to everyone. I just don't like some things. More importantly, I don't want lukewarm consent - I want loud 'hell yes!', 'Do that now!'. I want enthusiastic 'YES!'. If I can't trust your 'No', we can't get to 'HELL YEAH!'.
(*) 'I don't fuck fragile.' I wrote this on another forum recently. What do I mean by this? I won't have sex with someone even if they are obviously consenting if I feel like having sex with them may harm them, for me or both in the near or long term. The obvious example is someone who is drunk and wants sex but is on that borderline of being able to truly consent. I won't fuck them. Another is untreated mental illness. I was with someone with severe bipolar disorder for over a decade. However, she worked her ass off to manage it. Mental illness alone is not a disqualifer for me. Not dealing with one's mental health issues is. (And by deal with, I include medications but recognize that other ways to treat mental illness may work.)
I can't foresee every situation but a little thought goes a long way. For example, decades ago, a friend and I met for movie night. It became really obvious over the evening that she wanted me to initiate sex. I knew it probably would have been her first time ever, with anyone. I knew it was unlikely to stay at just friendly sex. She was not someone who experimented lightly. It was all kinds of potential landmines everywhere. I could not see how having sex with her at that moment did not hurt her in some way. So I didn't. I ended up walking home alone really late at night, horny as hell and really frustrated at my *%$#^ morals. (We are still friends. I've never regretted my decision.)
(*) Managing fear. I fail at this often. Fear is useful. It will tell us when someone is dangerous before our conscious selves can. I listen to my fear. I respect my fear. Where I sometimes fail is not letting my fear control my actions. Fear is an input, not the decision maker. When I have let my fear - as opposed to feeling the fear, understanding it, and consciously deciding, I have usually regretted it. So I continue to work on using my fear as the tool it is and not allow it to control my actions.