Sexting. Everyone’s doing it—and not just the younger generations who were practically born with a cellphone in hand. One study found that 88 percent of participants (ages 18 to 82!) had sexted before, with the majority of them having done so in the past year.
It’s easy to understand why. Sexting can really spice things up for long-time couples, provide a way to connect for couples in long distance relationships, and add a bit of fun to virtually any partnership.
Now, if you’re already a pro at this, kudos to you, but for those who need a primer on the ins and outs of the phone sex during the digital age—read on. And for more great dating dos and don’ts, here are the 11 Worst Dating App Message Mistakes Men Make.
Always Ask First
“If you’re in a relationship and looking to try something new, make sure that the other person is open to it,” suggests Stef Woods, a sex educator and full-time faculty member at American University. After all, if someone is completely taken off guard or you try to initiate the conversation at an inopportune time, your message may have the opposite of its intended effect. “Sexting should be a two-way conversation, so you want to make sure that the person on the other end of the text has the time and interest to enjoy and respond.” Not really feeling it anyway? You should feel relieved that there are so many reasons to enjoy being single in your 40s.
Only Do What You’re Comfortable With
And with a person you’re comfortable with. “It’s a lot easier to say something sexy to your wife of 20 years or the man you’ve been seeing for a while than it is to a complete stranger,” says Wayne Rodgers, author and relationship expert. In terms of what to say, go with what you know. “If you have a repertoire of dirty talk already built up in the relationship for times of physical intercourse, stick with what you’re familiar with before trying something bolder.” Brisker weather means more people are looking to get comfortable with someone else. See if you can’t capitalize on the 17 Reasons Why Cooler Temps Mark the Best Time to Fall in Love.
Don’t Get into Character
“One of the biggest mistakes people (particularly individuals over 40) make while sexting is using language that they don’t identify with,” notes Britanny Burr, a sex and relationship expert and editor-at-large of Psych N Sex. “If something feels weird when you’re writing it, it will feel equally weird when it’s being read. Don’t force it! Words carry a lot of weight, and if they don’t fit, don’t feel right, or don’t sound like you, they may not land in the way you’re hoping.”
Don’t Immediately Go X-Rated
“Recognize that what constitutes sexting or sexually explicit varies from person to person,” Woods says. In fact, something something that’s not so graphic can have a bigger impact. “A simple text that you wish you were lying next to your lover isn’t particularly racy, but can be the perfect pick-me-up in the midst of a long work day.”
Don’t Be Self-Conscious about It
Experts say it’s really time for the misconception that sexting is only for younger people to be put to rest. “This isn’t something that only teens or twenty-somethings do,” says April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert and author. “Relationships need pick-me-ups. If you don’t sext, consider it—seriously. It’s great for people over 40 who want to add a little spice to a long-term relationship, or for a newer relationship where you’re dating and have some commitment.”
Don’t Write a Novel
You’re not trying to write an erotic short story here, so keep it short and sweet. “Much like texting isn’t the best method of airing lengthy grievances, sexting should be your last resort for lengthy diatribes,” says Woods. “Keep your naughty texts short so that your significant other doesn’t lose interest and wants to play along. View your sexts as the preview for what will happen once you’re at home.”
Be Mindful of What You Put Out There
After all, the internet is forever. “Put simply, things happen,” says Burr. “Even if you’re sexting with the most respectful individual in the world, there’s always a chance someone else may see your message or photo—even if by accident.” She has a point. “I’m not suggesting you censor yourself, just make sure you stand by everything you’re saying, that it’s a good representation of yourself, and that it wouldn’t totally ruin your life should it get out.”
Keep Your Phone Secure
One of the most essential rules of sexting? If you don’t want others to see what you’re saying (or snapping), take preventative measures. “Remember to password protect your phone before sending these messages,” says Rogers. “You don’t want your co-workers or children to accidentally see something they shouldn’t.”
Watch Out for Autocorrect
Autocorrect is probably helpful in your everyday life, but it can mess with your mojo since it has a habit of of turning dirty words into “clean” ones. This can result in some really strange-sounding (and unsexy) messages. “Pay attention to what autocorrect is doing so you don’t trigger a mood-killing sexting fail,” says Scott Valdez, founder of ViDA.
Double Check Before You Hit “Send”
On a similar note, double check everything, but especially the “to:” field, before you let the message go off into the ether. “If you’re going to sext, make sure you don’t accidentally send a DIY boudoir photo to your boss, your in-laws, or daughter’s friends,” Masini suggests.
Never Put Your Face in Racy Photos
True, it might feel less personal if the recipient can’t see your face, but think of it this way: “In a worst case scenario where the image ends up on the internet or in someone’s Facebook feed, you’ll be so much more relieved if people can’t immediately recognize you,” Valdez says.
If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Sweat It!
“You might find that enjoy sending naughty texts and keep doing it. Or, you might feel uncomfortable sexting and not want to do it again,” Woods says. That’s fine. Just because a lot of people are doing it doesn’t mean you have to. “There’s no right or wrong, as long as you’re communicating with your partner and figuring out what works for both of you.”
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