The CERTS Model of Healthy Sex

Healthy Sex requires that these five basic conditions be met:

Consent, Equality, Respect, Trust, and Safety

Let's look at each of these conditions more closely:

CONSENT means you can freely and comfortably choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. You are able to stop the activity at any time during the sexual contact.

EQUALITY means your sense of personal power is on an equal level with your partner. Neither of you dominates the other.

RESPECT means you have positive regard for yourself and for your partner. You feel respected by your partner.

TRUST means you trust your partner on both a physical and emotional level. You have mutual acceptance of vulnerability and an ability to respond to it with sensitivity.

SAFETY means you feel secure and safe within the sexual setting. You are comfortable with and assertive about where, when and how the sexual activity takes place. You feel safe from the possibility of harm, such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, and physical injury.

It takes spending time together and engaging in lots of honest, open communication to make sure that the CERTS conditions are operating in your relationship. That's why it is important to build a strong friendship with a partner first, before becoming lovers.

Meeting the CERTS conditions does not ensure that you'll experience terrific sex, but it can help you feel more secure knowing you've minimized the possibility of something bad resulting from the sexual experience.

About the author: Wendy Maltz LCSW, DST is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and sex therapist. Her books include The Porn Trap, The Sexual Healing Journey, Private Thoughts, Passionate Hearts, Intimate Kisses, and Incest and Sexuality.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 21). The CERTS Model of Healthy Sex, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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