In a world where you can get pretty much anything you want at the touch of a button (including a roster of potential partners), dating and technology are becoming increasingly interlinked. Whilst ‘sexting’ – that’s digital dirty talk in case you were wondering – can be fun and flirtatious, does it help or hinder a relationship? We spoke to Nichi Hodgson, dating consultant for The Inner Circle, to find out what ‘sexting’ really means for those on the dating scene and for those who aren’t…
Firstly, why do people sext?
Like phone sex, sexting creates a behind-the-curtain-thrill, it’s all about the idea that you’re doing something a bit naughty, but it’s easier for some people than in-the-moment dirty talk because texting removes some of the human element. Plus, the safety net of the typing time delay is crucial for those without the compositional skills of Shakespeare. Or Drake.
Also, you can ‘describe’ a decadent, skimpy outfit to the recipient whilst secretly wearing your PJs, so the effort is usually minimal? It’s personalised porn for those with only a phone to hand. If you can imagine it, you can sext it, and arouse the other person in the process. And when you’re casually dating, what’s wrong with upping the ante, establishing the tone and type of sex you’d like to have from the off? Or perhaps the fantasy both of you know you’re never going to realise but might as well share because, what the hell.
So, what can you expect from sexting on the dating scene?
The rise of the dating app means more and more relationships start in the wake of a sext, but that’s not to say dating app conversations should start with sexting – in fact, on The Inner Circle, most members wouldn’t send or answer sext right away. But if they’ve moved into a dating relationship, it’s becoming increasingly common.
How to master the art of sexting?
The proverbial relationship wisdom is that sexting is good for our relationships when we’re committed, and less so when we are not. If you want to master it, timing will make or break the effect of your sext. For that reason, you always want to start with the test-sext, the one that gauges the mood, evaluates the possibility that your partner might be on the same page, whether you’re at your desk, on your commute, or bored at home.
Be mindful – an unreciprocated sext creates the same emotional experience in the sender as a rejection, while repeated bids for attention create the same kind of pressure as pestering someone for sex.
Also, sexting often requires a leap of blind faith. At least if you’ve spent the day or evening together, you know what environmental factors are likely to have influenced your partner’s mood, and what that mood might be. If you’ve not seen them for days it can be difficult to know whether they’ll be in the mood.
Can sexting benefit a relationship?
If you want sexting to benefit a relationship, it’s best to find out if your partner enjoys it in the first place. It’s boring to harp on about communication, but if it’s not a shared interest, it’s not going to satisfy either of you. After that, it’s a case of wisdom-guided trial and error. Avoid times in the week you know your partner will be busy at work, for example, as it’s unlikely you’ll get the response you were hoping for. An hour before bedtime is the golden hour, as is that 20-minute window after their alarm goes off – provided they’re not the kind to drag themselves to a spin class first thing.
So, when to start sexting?
It’s best to start early in your relationship. Use it to awaken your desire when work or other commitments have pushed you apart, or as a fire-stoking mechanism to intensify the sexual experience.
Any final advice?
Yes, a warning: sexting with another person, unless you’re in an open relationship, is cheating. Don’t even entertain it as something you do to fill the feelings gap when you feel your partner is neglecting you in some way – it corrodes the love and trust you have, even when it’s hidden.