Looking to have a one-night stand? Before you get down to any sexy business, you might have to sign on the dotted line – literally.
Thanks to a new app called LegalFling, those engaging in one-night stands or casual flings can create a “legally binding contract” for consensual sex encounters — contracts that are aimed at protecting the parties involved.
The contracts can outline what is and isn’t to be allowed during the encounter, “to set the rules before play,” the website explains.
The contracts can also include privacy agreements for videos and photos, and can be customized to include clauses on sex without protection, agreeing that the other person is without STDs, etc.
“Sex should be fun and safe, but nowadays a lot of things can go wrong,” the website says. “While you’re protected by law, litigating any offenses through court is nearly impossible in reality. LegalFling creates a legally binding agreement which means any offense is a breach of contract.”
By using blockchain technology, the app creates private, time-stamped records that are secured using cyptography.
Signing consent only involves clicking the “consent” button. You can also request consent using other platforms like Facebook Messenger, SMS, Telegram and WhatsApp.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time just by swiping. This ends the legal agreement.
If one of the people involved breaches the contract, app users can trigger cease and desist letters and enforce penalty payments.
According to makers, whether the contract will hold up in court depends on the country in which you live.
The app says it is still waiting for approval by Apple and Google before it will be available for users to download.
So does this mean the app could be setting a precedent? Could signing a contract before a sexual encounter be the new normal in the future? And if so, what does that mean for the future of dating and relationships in general?
Some relationship experts, like Laura Bilotta of Single in the City, says it has the potential to take the magic out of dating.
“Part of the lure of dating is the mystery and the excitement of the unknown,” Bilotta says. “The app will take the spontaneity out of dating. I don’t really think this app will fly.”
Others, like Chantal Heide of Canada’s Dating Coach, thinks it’s a good idea.
“My initial thought when I saw this was ‘Yes!’” she says. “There are far too many instances of confused men and upset women, because sexually charged situations were not dealt with properly.”
Sharing boundaries and preferences is more efficient, Heide adds, while the legal protections in place help someone think twice about doing something damaging towards the other partner.
Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast and a relationship expert, however, sees the good something like this could do, but admits that she doesn’t think it will appeal to most people.
“Every sexual encounter should involve a contract – whether it’s verbal, visual, written and/or legally binding,” she says. “We enter into sexual agreements with our words, body language, sounds, facial expressions, gestures and movements. This app offers another more formal option.”
While Heide has not heard of an app or platform like this before, she believes this could become an emerging trend, especially when the social climate is changing, thanks to campaigns like #MeToo.
“Women especially should be interested, as it gives them an option to better communicate their desires while protecting them against people who would take advantage of someone who has trouble stating their boundaries,” she says. “I do hope this is a tool that gains popularity among young women, especially those in a college or university setting who want to ensure their sexual safety at all times.”
O’Reilly also believes that putting these types of details can be helpful, even for couples.
“I often recommend that couples not only discuss relationship goals and boundaries, but put them in writing to avoid ambiguity and miscommunications,” O’Reilly says. “I should note that it’s important that regardless of whether you negotiate in-person, via text or using an app, you can always withdraw consent as your needs, relationships and boundaries change.”