Do you titillate your lover with flirty messages suggesting that you’d like to skip dinner and move straight into the bedroom for dessert? A picture of your lacy knickers is sure to whet their appetite? Maybe you tantalise your online date with an explicit step by step commentary on what you are going to do to yourself in the shower with the promise of a soapy naked selfie later? For some, the more graphically explicit, the better.
Sexting has grown in popularity over the years since it first came about circa 2008 especially since it has such a disinhibiting affect. It’s a bit like feeling brave after a few drinks. How much easier to talk ‘dirty’ to someone when they can’t see your face, and doesn’t an expertly posed selfie in skimpy underwear look so much more enticing than seeing it all in the flesh? How bold we can be on the other end of a device. There is less at stake, no anticipation of a direct verbal response, less chance of being critiqued or judged, hence the opportunity for greater sexual expression.
So, what exactly is ‘Sexting’? It is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit image, video or text message on their mobile phone, computer or tablet. It can include nude, or nearly nude, photos or selfies and messages that propose or refer to sex or sexual acts.
Sexting is a practice often associated with teenagers, and young adults but the reality is that it has become popular across all age ranges. Relationship experts report that more and more of the 50 plus’s routinely use their mobile device to send naughty pics and teasing texts to their partner or love interest.
So, is it a good thing?
Sexting can be a great thing! It can be an intimate expression between two private, caring and consensual parties, whether they are single, dating, in a committed relationship or married. It’s a great way for couples with busy schedules to stay romantically connected especially when they travel, work or live apart. Your intimate pic is very likely to bring a smile to their face when you show them what they are missing. A few choice words can spice up a relationship or set the stage for passion. You can breathe excitement into a dull day at the office, and don’t you feel young, carefree and alive when you’re flirting? It can be your naughty secret and it can be far more comfortable to hide behind a text when you want to say something ‘dirty’.
When is it Bad?
Yep, like anything else that’s fun, it has its dangers too. For one thing, it can be easy to send a ‘sext’ to a wrong number, and that can be embarrassing, or worse! Wrong number or right number your content could be shared. You will have heard many a tale of someone who has been a victim of a partner who shared the sexually charged picture or text with mates or co-workers! Even if the image, video, or text was only meant for one person, after it’s sent or posted, it’s out of your control. Can you completely trust the discretion or privacy of the recipient?
It’s important to understand that messages, pictures, or videos sent via the Internet or smartphones are never truly private or anonymous. In seconds they can be out there for all the world to see. If a compromising image goes public, or is sent to others, you could be at risk of humiliation, embarrassment, and public ridicule. Even worse, it could damage your self-image, career, relationships and even lead to depression and other mental health issues.
If you are concerned that an intimate image has been shared online the Revenge Porn Helpline offer practical assistance in reporting and removing content online. You can contact them on 0345 6000 459. However, they can only help victims over the age of 18. Victims under the age of 18 can get some useful advice at Childline but should also report what has happened to the police on 101 (non-emergency) as soon as it becomes apparent that images have been shared.
Then there is the effect sexting can have on your psychological health. There are plenty of people who love sending out sexy selfies of themselves, they get a massive buzz and it’s great for their self-esteem when their eagerly awaited pics result in ego boosting comments. However, when you heavily rely on the approval or validation from others to feel good about yourself, it can become unhealthy. When you start to need these comments then it may be helpful to consider the impact this is having on your mental health and wellbeing.
Teens and adults may participate in sexting for different reasons: for teens, reported peer pressure is something to be aware of, as they may feel pressured by friends or a boy/girlfriend to share inappropriate images to prove or signify affection. Teens and children, in their first experiences of romance, may feel curious or think they are in love with the individual they are sending images to. It is important to know that it is a crime for anyone to possess, take, make, distribute, download or show anyone an indecent image of a child or young person under 18 years of age. Yes, that’s right! A sixteen or seventeen-year-old can legally have sex but they cannot legally share, send or possess explicit images, even of themselves This would be classed and treated as a criminal offence under child pornography laws.
My top tips to be a safe and sexy ‘sexter’
1. Make sure you and anyone you are sexting are over 18.
2. Be sure who you are sending your saucy sexts to and think about the level of genuine respect they might have for your privacy, trust and reputation. Remember, you may be in love now, but will they still have the same regard for you if you should split in the future.
3. Send then delete. If you’re sending or receiving racy notes or photos, delete them straight after you’ve sent/received them and maybe ask your partner to do the same. A lost or stolen mobile phone could mean that your stolen pics are uploaded in a heartbeat. There is also the other horrible possibility of your kids innocently flipping through your texts or photos!
4. Lose your head! If you are hell-bent on sending the picture that leaves nothing to the imagination and you can’t guarantee it’s safe-keeping, neck down may be best.
5. If you’re dating, keep expectations based on Sexting in check. Getting hot by text doesn’t mean you’ll get hot in person. Don’t over sell or over promise, you may want to get to know your new hottie better outside the bedroom, before you promise too much too soon.
6. Think less is more. Being slightly suggestive can have more of a sexual charge than graphically spelling it out. For example; A bite of a cherry will leave you wanting more, scoffing a big bag full is likely to leave you never wanting cherries again. Leave, something to the imagination. Your partner can then have their own fantasies about what is to come. Like they say, it’s the journey, ‘or ride’ that counts and not the destination. Many a romantic conversation has been spoilt by a sudden ‘dick pic’. Remember, not everyone wants a sexually charged text or photo pop up on their phone as much as you think they might.
7. No false advertising, your lies will find you out! Online daters are all too familiar with dates that show up looking 20 years older than their picture. If you are serious about forming a genuine relationship, be as genuine as you want your partner to be. Don’t talk about your yacht, your virginity or your massive manhood if it doesn’t really exist.