New to sexting? Here’s what you need to know to keep it spicy, flirty, and absolutely irresistible (in a way that feels natural to you).
There are many moments in my life that I remember as vividly and distinctly as if it were yesterday, and my first experience with sexting is one of them. It was my senior year of high school. I had recently downloaded Snapchat since it was relatively new at the time and a guy I was interested in suggested that I start using it. Lo and behold, within just days of using the app, I had already received my first unsolicited dick pic. I was so shocked, I nearly screamed. Luckily, I’ve had more positive encounters with sexting since then. However, the more technology grows, the more creativity required to navigate the exciting, yet tricky world of cybersex.
According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, sexting has become more common among teenagers. The researchers involved in this study examined data on 39 previously published studies and the results of their review indicated that at least 1 in 4 teens are receiving sexually explicit texts and emails, and at least 1 in 7 teens are sending sexts.
Sexting is also quite common among adults as well. Another study published by Emily Stasko, a doctoral student in psychology at Drexel University, and Pamela A. Geller, a professor who runs the Women’s Health Psychology Lab at Drexel, concluded that 88% of the 870 survey respondents had sexted at least once in their lives and that 82% of the respondents had done so within a year.
Given how common sexting is, it’s also important to know how to do it safely. I asked Jess O’Reilly, PhD., host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, about all things sexting, starting with establishing consent.
“Before you get started, ensure that your partner consents to sexting. Do not be a textual-harasser. Consent is mandatory in sex, so be sure to ask for permission and be mindful of your lover’s boundaries,” Dr. Jess states.
“You might begin with creative language including dirty talk phrases expressing what you want to do to please them and to be pleased. This may appeal to those who are auditory and visual, so consider crafting your messages with broad and vivid vocabulary.”
How do we manage sexting given the possible risks?
Technically, anytime technology is involved there’s always a risk of images and messages getting out into unintended hands. However, there are ways people can keep their pictures and messages as private as possible. Dr. Jess suggests limiting the physical exposure of your body if you’re sexting with someone for the first time.
“Share images of your body from the neck down. By leaving your face out, you can tempt and titillate a new partner while minimizing your risk of exposure should the photos be leaked. Some take the extra precaution of adding fake tattoos to their pics, so that their body is even less recognizable,” she advises.
It is important to note that sexting is a relatively new topic within our laws, and many states differ on how to handle it when things go south. In some states that don’t have specific sexting laws, anyone who creates, sends, or possesses nude or explicit photos of a juvenile can be charged with child pornography. Also, in most cases concerning revenge porn, it’s only considered a misdemeanor for which the perpetrator pays a fine and completes moderate hours of community service.
So, we’ve talked about the potential risks. What about the positives? How can sexting increase intimacy and relationship satisfaction in couples?
“Part of what makes sexting so intoxicating is the escalation of eroticism and anticipation. Oftentimes, we make the mistake of sending too much too soon,” Dr. Jess explains. “You do not need to begin with pics of your genitals and it is worth noting that some (many) people are not specifically turned on by genital closeups — remember the less is more approach to seduction.”
“If you want to take a picture of your upper torso, take it from each side, take it from up top, take it from the bottom, and take it from other angles that you think are flattering,” she suggests.
Dr. Jess also has some expert tips on keeping sexting spicy and fun, yet safe:
- Incorporate voice notes. Sexting goes beyond images. “Voice notes allow you to tap into your lover’s audial desires. For those of us who are auditory learners, the sound of a lover’s voice (even if they are not talking dirty) can be overwhelmingly hot,” she says.
- Use other erotic imagery aside from those that involve yourself. Dr. Jess stresses the importance of using sexy videos and GIFs that you find online. She advises using these in a sexually-charged conversation, using prompts like, “We should try this tonight,” or “This made me think of you.”
- Consider a variety of platforms. “You might send a series of communiques all at once or send a variety on multiple platforms—via email, via text, on an app like In The Mood, and via private message on social media platforms. This can be particularly appealing to kinesthetic learners who enjoy movement and physical distraction—the next best thing to real-life touch.”
Nevertheless, when it comes to technology, Dr. Jess tells us that sexting can be used as a steamy bonus in our relationships as long as we’re aware of the potential risks and how to minimize them.
“Digital technology is often painted with broad strokes and there is no denying that it can detract from intimate connection. However, technology is not the problem—human use (and abuse) ultimately determines its effects,” she adds. “However you sext, be sure to continuously check in with your partner(s) to ensure that you are respecting their boundaries, as these can change over time depending on living, working, and personal circumstances.”
P.S. For extensive tips on sexting and other ways to master the art of seduction, check out The Ultimate Guide to Seduction & Foreplay by Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, & Marla Renee Stewart, MA.