Sexting is just the latest in a long line of horny technological advances. Before we shared thirsty selfies with “thinking of you ::winky face::” captions, the universal code for “I am interested in banging” was phone sex. Before phone sex, it was...I don’t know, telegram sex? Even early man put sexual symbols on the walls of caves, because as soon as new technology emerges, humans find a way to use it for foreplay. And today—an era in which many of our IRL sexy relationships begin on our phones—it only makes sense that sexting is an integral part of sex itself.
But how do you ensure that you’re giving your sext partner what they really want? How do you know an erotic electronic exchange is consensual? And what actually makes a good sext? We’ve run down the basics to create the ultimate guide to safe and steamy sexting. (NSFW, obviously.)
First thing's first: Obtain consent.
Though it may happen remotely, sexting is a sexual act, which means it requires consent. If you’re sexting with a long-term partner, you may have an established, blanket consent that it’s cool to sext one another without asking permission every time. Sure, if your live-in boyfriend blows up your phone with sexts while you’re in a business meeting, you may have to tell him to settle down, but you’re less likely to feel violated than if this was someone you just met on Tinder. So how do you obtain sexting consent from a person you just started seeing?
When we talk about “obtaining consent,” it can sometimes suggest a quite serious, not-exactly-sexy conversation complete with a PowerPoint slideshow and a cameo from your high school health teacher. But a big secret that could change dating culture as we know it is that obtaining consent can be easy-going and even *extremely* hot.
Unsolicited dick pics are not okay. But a text message from the guy with whom you just shared a hot makeout sesh that reads, “I’m thinking about you, care to hear what’s in my head? Be warned, it’s NSFW…” is a top-notch sext opener. If you’re not into the person sexting you, or don’t want to sext, you can politely say, “No thank you,” or “I’m in the middle of something right now, but I would love to get in your head (and bed) in the future,” if that’s how you feel.
Remember, everyone is responsible for making sure their partner consents. Even if you feel beyond certain that a certain heterosexual dude would just love a sext from you, first ask him in a calm and consent-oriented manner.
Oh, and if someone disrespects your consent and sends unsolicited dick pics, feel free to tell them to fuck off. And then block their number.
Figure out what kind of text sex you want to have.
Sometimes we sext to initiate actual sex—it's a form of foreplay, after all. In that case, try to build anticipation. Start slow, with a text that both teases and gains consent, and then encourage a conversation that goes back and forth discussing what you want to do to one another later. Schoolgirl and professor fantasy? Share how you can’t wait to bend over and be spanked for handing in homework late. Up for an oral sex marathon? Gush about how you can’t wait to taste your partner. When it’s time to finally put their genitals in your mouth, the sexual tension you’ve been building all day will make it so much hotter.
But let’s be honest: We don’t always sext because we want to have sex with someone. Occasionally, we sext because we’re lonely and bored and just want a little sexual attention. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that (unless you’re in a monogamous relationship and you're clandestinely sexting someone who isn't your partner, in which case it’s time to look at how you really feel). Just remember to tread carefully, because sexting for a self-esteem boost can, if you're feeling particularly low, shift to, “Ew, I don’t want this 42-year-old divorced dude on Tinder asking if he can suck my nipples,” followed by a depressing crash and a good shower cry.
Sometimes when we’re feeling down, it’s best to start with and stick with shower cries. And remember, there are other people involved in this electronic exchange, so be mindful of their boundaries and how they respond to and enjoy their sexting experience (more on that below).
Be very careful with nudes.
Unfortunately, revenge porn is a real threat. But your desire to show your hook-up how hot your ass looks is also real. So how do you safely navigate the sexting of nudes?
Unfortunately, there is no 100-percent risk-free way to sext nudes. Even if you share your nip pics with the most loyal and responsible person in the world, phones and emails and iClouds get hacked all the time. One day, I hope we live in a world where everyone can freely send nudes to each other and no one will use them against us. But until that day comes, the only way to make absolute sure that your nudes never end up on Reddit is to not send them.
There are, however, a couple of ways to minimize the risk that your nudes will be shared. For one, you can always send a sexy clothed photo, or a nude without your face, or use strategically-placed emojis. But with tattoos and moles, it’s difficult to completely obscure your identity in a photo. Ultimately, you have decide your level of comfort with the associated risks and hold yourself to those lines.
So if you’re okay with sending sexy photos without your face, then stick with that. If sending full-frontals with your face very much in view as you give the middle finger makes you feel good about yourself, then do that—just do it while understanding the possible consequences. And if your nudes are ever shared without your permission, remember that it’s not your fault and that the person who shared them can sometimes be held legally accountable for doing so.
If you’ve been the victim of revenge porn, there are a lot of resources that may help you seek recourse on the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative website, found here.
Do what feels the best to you.
What do you say in a sext? Sure, “I can’t stop thinking about you” is a great opener because it allows for banter to develop naturally. But don’t be afraid to get a little goofy. For example, you could write some steamy Harry Potter fanfic by opening the conversation with a question of which house they’d belong to.
Make jokes. Laugh at typos. In skin-to-skin sex, sometimes weird noises emit from our bodies and we can’t help it. Sex in any form can be hilariously awkard, so just roll with it. Taking it super seriously only makes it more awkward.
If you have a sexual fantasy—let’s use spanking as an example—you can use sexting to bring it up and gauge their reaction from the safety of your phone. Or if you’re head-over-heels in love, gush about how the smell of their armpits makes you believe in god and you can’t wait to go down on them to get high off their scent.
When done consensually and responsibly, the best way to sext is to have fun with it and be yourself. And don’t forget to listen to the other person and give them room to share their own fantasies. Sometimes, sexting online leads to rewards offline. After a day of sharing Harry Potter erotica, you may just inspire your partner to come home dressed up like Sirius Black armed with a magic wand (Hitachi, that is).