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Guide to the Do’s and Don’ts of Sexting

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Are you new to sexting? Exchanging sexually explicit texts and photos is an increasingly normal part of modern-day relationships, especially in the case of online or long-distance dating. 

But if you’re new to it, sexting for the first time feels a little like learning how to have sex all over again, raising questions like: What do you like? How far do you go? How do you express your desires with written words and images, not just in the heat of the physical moment? Do you show off your adult toys? And how do you keep yourself safe?

Ultimately, the final answers are up to you. But you can follow some tried-and-true guidelines on how to help you and your partner feel satisfied with sexting, without compromising your safety or your boundaries.

DO use a secure app. Now more than ever, more Internet users have concerns about their data security. Messages sent by text or over unsecured apps are vulnerable to data thieves who might exploit your sensitive messages. 

Keep your peace of mind and use an end-to-end encrypted messaging service like Signal to keep your explicit exchanges out of the wrong hands.

DON’T send unsolicited pics or texts. Not only is it offensive to send unsolicited sexual pics and messages, but it could also land you in legal trouble if you continue to do it. Make sure that your partner welcomes your R-rated messages, photos or videos. 

DO get enthusiastic consent. Enthusiastic consent is more than your partner saying “yes” — it’s more of a “hell yes.” It means that you’re both excited about what’s happening and have a mutual understanding of each person’s turn-ons and boundaries.

Put enthusiastic consent into practice by telling your partner what really turns you on, clearly establishing anything that’s off-limits, and asking them to do the same. It’s also a good idea to check in occasionally with your partner to make sure they’re still comfortable with what’s happening. (After a stream of messages about what you’d like to do to your partner when you’re alone, a question like “Do you want me to keep going?” usually sounds like an incredibly hot tease.)

DON’T go out of your comfort zone. Sexting gives you room to explore your fantasies, meaning there’s a chance you’ll step into unfamiliar territory. Listen to your discomfort and don’t push your boundaries.

If your partner well-meaningly asks for something you don’t want to give, you can flirtatiously but clearly decline. Suggest an alternative to keep things going, and let your partner know later whether you’d like to explore their fantasy together or take it off the table for now.

DO secure your phone with a lock screen and delete your messages. You don’t have to be a hacker to read someone’s dirty DMs. If you’re not careful, a nosy coworker or curious kid can easily pick up your phone and start scrolling.

Set up your lock screen with password or thumbprint identification so only you can access your messages. And just in case, delete your messages once the hot sexting sesh is over.

DON’T show your face in pics. As a best practice, crop your face out of lingerie pics, nudes or any other suggestive content. If you have any identifying tattoos or other marks, it might be best to cover those up, too. 

Protecting your identity shouldn’t stop you from having a good time. If anything, it’ll give you greater peace of mind.

DO talk about your fantasies. At its best, sexting is a creative art: You’re writing your own personal erotica for yourself and your partner. Unleash your hottest fantasies and indulge in some roleplay while you’re at it. 

Be specific, too. If you know exactly what moves your partner likes during sex, tell them about it in detail. If you’re roleplaying, set the scene with sensory descriptions before diving in to the X-rated parts.

DON’T do it behind a partner’s back. Let’s be clear: sexting someone else without your partner’s knowledge is cheating, unless you have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” non-monogamy agreement. And even if you do, make sure you both are clear on how sexting fits into that agreement. 

DO set up the right lighting and background for pictures. Setting the scene is part of setting the mood. If you’re sending sexy pics, whether they’re lightly suggestive selfies or full-on nudes, the surrounding environment should look as good as you do. Find the right lighting, clean up your room and hit your best angles.

DON’T sext strangers or people you don’t trust. Sadly, not everyone sexts with the best intentions. Only send explicit messages to people with whom you have an established, trusting relationship.

DO keep it short and sweet. Sexting puts the quick in quick and dirty. The aim is to keep the energy crackling between you and your partner, so send brief messages — no more than a few sentences at a time. This gives your partner the satisfaction of a constant stream of messages, plus time to respond to each message with their own fantasies. 

DON’T sext under the influence. Just like with regular texting, sexting under the influence runs the risk of sending messages you’ll regret in the morning. Save it for when you’re sober.

DO double check who you’re sending to. Here’s a horror story: Tried to text “Daddy,” accidentally texted “Dad.” Avoid the nightmare by double and triple-checking who you’ve drafted your message to before you hit send

DON’T do it at work. It might be tempting to sext at work to get through a dull day. However, this is a totally inadvisable idea. Not only will it distract you from getting things done, but getting caught doing it might lead to serious consequences, including termination and a tarnished professional reputation. 

DO set up a time and stay focused. Making a proper sexting date is the surest way to have a hot, enjoyable session with no distractions or interruptions. You and your partner will both be in the right mindset and able to answer each other promptly. Plus, you’ll ensure privacy to, ahem, enjoy your sexts when you get them. (And there’ll be no chance of your sexting partner accidentally getting a naughty message during dinner with their grandma.)

It boils down to this: if you know how to respect your partner, practice basic data safety and let your imagination run free, you’re already on your way to becoming a sexting pro. And you’ll most likely end up adding “phone in hand” to your list of favorite sex positions. 

About The Author

Anna Downey is a Philadelphia-based writer. She is passionate about positive, inclusive sex education for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. In her free time, she binge-watches horror movies, studies art history and makes very loud music.

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