Imagine yourself stuck in a boring board meeting or history class and, after feeling your phone vibrate, you discover a text: “I can’t stop thinking about the last time we were sweaty and hanging off of the bed…” Next thing you know, you’re uncomfortably fidgeting in your chair having flashbacks of an amazing time. It buzzes again and in comes the picture you weren’t expecting (but gladly welcome), and your concentration is completely shot. All you can think about is getting home, stripping your lover naked, and making somebody’s toes curl.
As technology advances, so do the ways in which we communicate with each other. Erotic letters between distant lovers were once mailed across land and seas, bearing promises of sexual wonder at the next encounter. Telephones then came along and allowed us to teasingly vocalize our desires to panting partners on the other end of the lines. Online chat rooms became the next meeting ground for creative people who preferred typing out their sexual fantasies in real time.
These days “sexting,” or sending text messages of a sexual nature, is the preferred method for many seeking immediate sexual connections—particularly younger adults who are more likely to use texting as their primary method of communication. There is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about when sexting with someone you know and trust. Sexting often enhances intimacy between lovers, especially those who spend a significant time apart. An “Open Sext Agreement,” where two people agree to send and receive naughty messages without restrictions, can lead to very hot moments during the days and serve as delicious preparation for the nights.
While sexting is generally a harmless way of keeping things spicy between lovers, it’s been getting a pretty bad rap lately. New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner was recently exposed (again) for sending dirty texts and naked pictures to several women, none of whom are his wife. Some of the women involved in the scandal claimed they never asked to receive naked pictures from him, which makes his sexting sexual harassment.
More people admit to receiving sexy texts than sending; a Pew study found that 13% of adults ages 18-29 own up to sending texts, while 31% say they receive them. Either people are randomly sending unsolicited texts to multiple people or folks are still nervous about admitting they enjoy exchanging naked selfies. Or something else is going on…
While sexting can certainly keep the fire going in relationships, it can also lead to problems when it violates the boundaries of the relationship. “People have widely varying parameters for their relationships, so not every person weighs everything the same,” says Evan, who doesn’t believe sexting is automatically cheating. “Sexting is cheating only if your partner would be hurt by that action. Any act that you would do without the knowledge of your partner is more or less cheating.”
Heidi thinks that for some, “sexting is cheating because they feel fantasies shouldn’t include people with whom they aren’t exclusively involved.” With locked phones and delete functions, people can more easily hide their indiscretions and keep whatever text “affairs” they’re having a secret from their primary lovers. This then leads to insecurity and arguments, accusations and fights, and ultimately the dissolution of relationships.
We can’t exactly blame sexting alone, though.
People have to take responsibility for their behaviors, and if it weren’t sexting, it would likely be something else. If people opt to be dishonest in their relationships, they can find various ways to carry out acts of betrayal. Blaming sexting is the easy way out, and it gives a rather sexy form of communication an unnecessarily bad reputation. If you have an issue with it, you should discuss it with your partner, explain your concerns, and both of you can come to an agreement about what is acceptable within your relationship.
For those who like the idea of sexting and want to get better at it, start with simple lines. “I want you and can’t stop thinking about you,” or “Last night was amazing and I can’t wait until we do it again” are suggestive enough without being too explicit. As you grow more comfortable with the exchanges, and feel confident that you can trust your lover, you can try naughtier language. “Next time you see me, grab me by my hair and tell me it’s yours,” or maybe “I’m going to be buried so deep inside of you, you won’t be able to breathe.”
Feel free to use your own language; these are just some suggestions to move things along and keep you and your partner sexily connected. My advice is, make sure you’re exchanging messages with someone you trust, because texts are permanent. Once you hit “send,” it no longer belongs only to you. Make a pact to be adults about it and stick with that. Trust me, you’ll get far more sexy pictures to enjoy during those long meetings and boring classes by keeping those texts to yourself.
Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.