Most millennials who’ve been single awhile nowadays encounter sexts from consenting partners at one time or another, but a 2016 study featured in The Conversation suggests sexting is even more common in committed relationships.
The big picture? About 88 percent of adults who responded to a 2015 Drexel University study reported sexting, 82 percent of them within the past year. Participants spanned a wide range in age and relationship status, implying that sexting never was just a trend.
Sexting need not mean nude photos. Psychology Today contributor and psychologist Martin Graff, Ph.D., pointed out that young adults “are more likely to send sexually explicit texts than nude pictures.”
Like dancing and cooking, sexting is a skill in the game of love that may not be for everyone but can keep a flame burning bright. Evidence links sexting to higher reports of sexual satisfaction in committed relationships, but there are ways in which it can also be misused or go awry.
“The best thing to remember,” wrote sexologist Carlen Costa in the Huffington Post blog, “is that engaging digitally is ALWAYS a negotiation and the rules of consent ALWAYS apply.”
Below are five tips about the virtues of sexting as a tool you can use to spice up a bond worth building.
1) Sext With Discernment
Both you and your partner would want to know the chemistry you have before you go sending anything too steamy. Jumping the gun can send him running away in the other direction. Worse, it can embolden someone you’ll change your mind about because he mistakes the mirage for the real deal. So meet first.
Second, if you’re going to send photos, do your best to make sure the person receiving them is worthy of your trust. Avoid combining identifying features like your face or tattoos with private parts. Snapchat offers limited protection, sexologist and podcast host Emily Morse said in a Popsugar interview, but once the photo launches, you can’t get it back.
2) Build Anticipation
Urban Dictionary compares sexting to watching “pornography on a dial up internet connection. 5 seconds of gratification for every 5 minutes you wait.”
But that’s the point.
“Sexting builds big anticipation and hints at things to come,” Shape Magazine wrote, “so it’s ideal for creating pre-sex heat and tension. The right tone can put you two in a sexy mood hours before you see each other and set the stage for a passionate night.”
“Words are aphrodisiacs,” Morse said, “and the scenarios you plant in [your partner’s] mind can help mold the sex you have in the future.” She recommended short, potently detailed texts instead of wordy ones for maximum effect.
Words may be preferable to pictures for their unique, suggestive power as well as relative security. But if the foreplay spills into the photographic realm, less is often more.
“This is your chance to get a little creative and play Mistress Tease,” sexologist and relationship psychotherapist Carlen Costa wrote. “Every great sex act has a story before it, so take your time and play a little bit. A quick pic of your perfect pout, curvaceous hips, lacey leggings, then cleavage” could be a powerful way to arrest attention and keep your partner distracted by you.
3) Be Playful
Who says you can’t sext someone in the same room? Or use peach, eggplant, rooster (cock), honey pot or taco emojis in creative ways? Or defuse tension with a hilariously inoffensive gag?
“Turning a conversation into a private joke or making fun of an awkward moment during sexting in a friendly way can help foster closeness,” the Daily Dot wrote. “It provides a sense of comfort and freedom to act natural, and sexting can take on a new level in that type of open environment.”
It isn’t healthy or hot to recreate inflated Jessica Rabbit ideals of beauty with your pictures. “Those too tight Armani boxer briefs” are just fine, wrote Costa.
Say your partner’s pocket buzzes during dinner to propose a sexy dessert after the kids go to bed. Or these ( . ) ( . ) spontaneously descend on him in some waiting room, reigniting eyes glazed over from boredom.
Just be considerate. Avoid doing this in places where it would hurt your work ethic, or at times when it would hurt his. Be mindful that some businesses monitor your phone and could access its content through Wi-Fi, wrote Mashable.
4) Don’t Misuse Sexting
“It’s important not to [overdo] sexting,” wrote YourTango. “It’s fun and exciting because it’s a novelty.”
Sexting loses this special quality when it’s no longer a surprise. It offers little value without actual sex to anchor it, except in long-distance relationships, and threatens to displace real intimacy when there is none.
“People with an avoidant attachment style employ sexting as a deactivating strategy,” wrote Graff, “sexting meets their sexual needs, but at the same time keeps their partners at a distance.”
Sext only when confident that the foreplay will culminate in sex. Cancellations happen, but if it does you should hold off sexting for a while. Otherwise it could quickly grow associated with frustration and disappointment.
5) Practice Good Sexting Hygiene
This means deleting sexts when the conversation ends. Storing them on a flashdrive you’d never lose or a transcendently secure device are both alternatives, but they are not recommended here.
You wouldn’t want to sext drunk unless your partner’s drunk too.
Also check your spelling, abbreviations, grammar. “[S]ounding like an 11-year-old whose still stuck on AIM can kill the mood,” Daily Dot wrote. “You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but words leave more room for fantasies than visuals, and a grammatically correct bedroom description can provide some serious titillation.”
Sexting is unique in that it allows for closeness with a partner even when you’re apart, often in humdrum settings, for hours. Ideal for trusting relationships, it probably does not lend itself to use outside of them. Like the choice of whether to sext or not at all, it’s you alone who owns its provocative power.
Weisskirch, Rob. “Sexting might actually be a sign of a committed relationship.”
The American Psychological Association. “Most Adults Are Sexting and That May Not Be a Bad Thing.”
Graff, Mark. “What Your Sexting Really Reveals: Research into who is most likely to sext, and why.”
Costa, Carlen. “Four Sexting Tips to Help You Avoid a #SexyPicFail.”
Morse, Emily. “8 Expert Tips for the Completely Clueless Sexter.”
Ktotheile, Urban Dictionary contributor. UrbanDictionary.com.
Gartee, Marie. “5 Sexting Tips Every Woman Needs to Know.”
Wang, Clara. “A Beginner’s Guide to Sexting.”
Singh, Kyli. “7 Crucial Tips to Practice Safe Sexting.”
Jameson, Sean. “6 Essential Sexting Tips That Will Drive Him WILD.”