When you significant other is far away or you and a potential love interest are navigating the maze of physical distance in those initial days, sexting can make for a raunchy indulgence. With a smartphone in hand and a vivid imagination, you can today lend a virtual twist to our sexual escapades and orgasms too. As the practice catches on, the pros and cons of sexting are being widely discussed. This is primarily because youngster – teens in particular – are more likely to indulge in this virtual exchange of sexually explicit texts and images. A study found that up to 30% of adolescents practice sexting in some form or the other.
While the sexual buildup and release experienced during the act can appear to be extremely gratifying, the dynamics of sexting and relationships are fraught with some risks too. It is vital that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of sexting before taking a call on whether it is for you.
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How Common is Sexting?
If the above-mentioned statistic is any indication, sexting is certainly more prevalent than most of us would like to believe. An analysis of data from 39 studies published between 2009 and 2016 on the topic also points toward a steep rise in the popularity of sexting among people of different age groups, the youngsters in particular.
The easy access facilitated by technology is among the top reasons behind this trend catching on. An innocuous text message – something as simple as ‘what are you wearing’ – is enough to raise the heat in a conversation, steering it in the direction of sensuous or downright sexual in a matter of minutes.
Sexting, like masturbation, is one of those topics that doesn’t make for polite social conversation and just because it’s never openly discussed most people cannot even begin to fathom how common is sexting.
In the interest of this article, we started asking around and stumbled upon an interesting anecdote. A young working professional based out of Bengaluru recounted her first experience of sexting: “There was a co-worker that I was friends with. We chatted \after work, flirted often and the sexual tension between us unmistakable. Yet, neither of us ever acted on this instinct until one day when I told him that a splitting headache. He offered to give me a massage. Over text. The virtual message soon turned into something else completely and in no time we were in the thick of our sexual fantasies for one another. My first even sext chat lasted about 5 hours and I experienced a series of mindblowing orgasms in the process.
We continue to sext a couple of times a week, have even hooked up a few times, but are not in a relationship.”
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Pros and Cons of Sexting
To help you make an informed decision about this experimental tool of pleasure, let us look that the top pros and cons of sexting:
1. It helps build intimacy
A dirty text, a naughty image that offers sneaky peek without revealing too much, a voice note in a deep husky voice can work like a charm in building or reviving intimacy between a couple. It’s sure to build up the anticipation and get you both all tingly and excited. As you try out the different fantasies discussed over sexts in real life, your sex life will blossom once again. In that sense, sexting and relationships can feed off one another.
2. It’s more pleasurable than masturbation
Even if you look beyond the dynamics of sexting and relationships, the act can bring some instant sexual gratification that is more fulfilling than masturbation. You’re helping another person get off and they’re returning the favour. Even if there are no strings attached, sexting can be a less lonely experience than masturbation, and thus, more pleasurable.
3. It can be an antidote to inhibitions
One of the main advantages of sexting is that it helps you shed your inhibitions and own up your sexual personality. In new relationships where both partners are still exploring each other and there is an air of hesitance in making advances. Sexting can be instrumental in breaking the ice and bringing your sexual fantasies to fruition.
Say you want your partner to go down on you a certain way but feel too shy to say it during the act, weaving the desire into one of your sexting exchanges can get the message across without any awkwardness at all.
4. It can sustain long-distance relationships
If you and your partner are in a long-distance relationship, you know that the buildup of longing becomes the root cause of a whole host of issues. With sexting at your disposal, you don’t have to wait to be with each other to experience that intimate connection.
You can explore the depths and crevices of each other’s body, albeit virtually, and keep that spark burning till the next time you’re together.
5. It is not bound by constraints of space and time
Live in a joint family and don’t have the luxury to act on your sexual impulses as and when you like? Are the kids still sharing your bedroom and ruining your sex life? Feel horny at work and yearning for a quickie? Just take out your phone and sext away. One of the main reasons why this form of sexual exchanges has become so popular is that it’s not subservient to the constraints of right time and space.
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1. You risk exposure
A study indicates that 17% of people who engage in sexting share the contents of the interaction with others. Among them, 55% do so with more than one person. Unless you absolutely trust your partner, there is always a risk that the messages and visuals you’re sharing may be viewed by more eyes than you’d intended. One of the biggest disadvantages of sexting is that most people are not prepared to handle the emotional and psychological consequences of such exposure.
2. Your sexts may fall prey to hackers
Even if you trust your partner, the risk of your sexual messages falling in the hands of hackers and getting leaked online cannot be ruled out. Every message that is shared electronically leaves a digital trail. A person with the required skillsets and intent can follow this trail and retrieve those messages – yes, even the ones you’ve deleted – and can misuse them. The consequences of which can be devastating.
3. You could become a victim of revenge porn
You may trust your partner today. But what if things don’t work out between you two and they have a stash of your nudes to use against you? Revenge porn is real. By engaging in sexting you’re exposing yourself to that threat. Even if the possibility of it ever happening is abysmally low, it is one of the disadvantages of sexting to keep in mind always.
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4. The distress of unfulfilled expectations
So, you’ve found a sexting partner and things are hot and happening right now. This naturally sets the bar of your expectations high, and since you enjoy the experience, you’d want more and more of it. But what if the other person abruptly checks out of the equation without so much as an explanation? It can lead to unnecessary mental distress.
4. It can adversely impact your mental health
This lowdown wouldn’t be complete without touching upon the all-important issue of sexting and mental health. A study has indicated that unwanted sexting can result in mental health issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. So, if you’re not 100% on board with the idea, the experience can have damaging effects on your psyche. It’s one of the most crucial disadvantages of sexting to take note of.
5. It can fuel infidelity
Easy access to our past offered by social media has already resulted in a spike in extra-marital liaisons, infidelity and emotional affairs. One seemingly innocent text can take you from the grey area of harmless flirting to murky waters of cheating. Yes, if you are in a monogamous committed relationship, sexting with someone other than your partner is cheating. There is no room for ambiguity here.
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Rules of Sexting
Now that you know of the pros and cons of sexting, you’re better positioned to make an informed decision on whether or not to take the plunge. If you do, keep these rules of sexting in mind:
- Do you know what are the three main sexting scenarios? Broadly, these can be classified as – 1. the exchange of sexually explicit content strictly between two partners; 2. exchanges between people who are not yet in a relationship but almost on the verge of it; 3. exchanges between two people that are shared with other, with or without the consent of both parties involved. So, keep these dynamics in mind and know which scenario your equation fits into.
- Establish ground rules of sexting right in the beginning, and let the other person know how far you’re willing to go and where you draw the line.
- Try to take things slow, and see if you like the experience before taking a plunge head-on.
- One of the golden rules of sexting is to never share something you’re not comfortable with. Even if that person in the love of your life or your life partner.
- If you feel it’s not cut out for you, let the other person know and take a step back.
There is no harm in pushing the boundaries and soaking up new experiences. Just don’t throw caution to the wind.