These things are different:
- Wanting something to be true
- Wanting to think something is true
- Wanting someone else to feel like something is true
- Wanting reassurance that something is true
- Interacting with someone consensually
- Feeling like your interactions are consensual
- Having that person think of the interactions as consensual
- Having that person reassure you that things are consensual.
- Not wanting to put someone in danger
- Wanting to feel like a safe person
- Wanting someone to feel safe
- Wanting someone to reassure you that they feel safe
- Seeking to avoid abusing anyone
- Seeking to avoid seeing yourself as an abusive person
- Wanting others to see you as someone who doesn’t abuse others
- Wanting others to reassure you that you’re not the kind of person who abuses people
And this too:
- Respecting someone’s boundaries
- Feeling like you’re a person who respects boundaries
- Wanting someone to feel as though their boundaries are being respected
- Wanting someone to reassure you that you’re not crossing any lines
If you don’t understand the difference, you’re dangerous to people you have power over.
Because feelings and perceptions can be manipulated without changing the underlying reality.
Making people feel safe isn’t enough; you also have to create real safety. Making people tell you that you’re not crossing a line isn’t enough; you have to actually care about their boundaries. Seeing yourself as a non-abusive person isn’t enough; you have to actively pay attention to treating people well.
If you want to do right by people, you have to care about the reality.