Hands up if you’ve ever sent or received a sexy text message. Don’t be shy, loads of us are into sexting – using text messages to share seductive thoughts and suggestions with someone you’re into. It can be a huge turn-on to communicate using suggestive language and racy photos of yourself, and if you’re in a stable relationship, it’s a great way to spice things up and reconnect with your partner.
But there are times when sexting can be a bit risky, or even downright dangerous. So before you hit ‘send’, here are some things you should know.
Texting + sex = sexting
The word ‘sexting’ is a combination of ‘texting’ and ‘sex’, so it’s not hard to understand what it is. Sexting can include explicit language and/or images (like nude photos), and it often starts out as a casual chat before escalating into a more suggestive conversation.
Up, up and away
Even if you’re sexting someone you trust, there’s a danger that the content could be easily and widely shared over the internet – and you have absolutely no control over it.
Once you’ve sent your messages or images to someone else, there’s almost no limit to how far they could go. If you upload them onto the cloud, they could get hacked. Then there’s the risk that you could send them to the wrong person – like your dad! – or that they could pop up when you’re showing your gran some photos of your new apartment.
Finally, there’s the new and alarmingly rise of ‘revenge porn’ – when exes take sexy images or videos of you and share them over the internet out of anger or vengeance after a break up. So even if you trust the person you’re sexting today, can you be sure they won’t use that content against you tomorrow?
How to practice safe sexting
Just because there’s no physical contact with sexting doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind – as you can tell from the examples above. Here are some ways you can still enjoy your sexy texts without putting yourself at risk.
- Don’t include your face or any identifying marks (like tattoos, unique moles or birthmarks, etc) in any explicit photos your send.
- Don’t send any images under duress. If someone is trying to force you to send a suggestive photo, there’s a chance they may be wanting to share it with others once they’ve coaxed it out of you. Although this trend is more common among teenagers, it can happen to anyone. Until you’re 100% happy to take and send the photo, don’t do it. Sexting should be fun and enjoyable for both parties. It’s not okay if one person is sending unwanted images to another, and it’s not okay to pressurise someone to send content they don’t want to send.
- Don’t send unsolicited photos to anyone. If you catch them by surprise, there’s a chance they’ll show someone else.
- Delete the evidence. You never know who may get hold of your phone and start snooping, and the last thing you want is for others to see your nude photos or dirty messages.
- Make sure you trust your partner – you don’t want to become a victim of revenge porn. If you’re not entirely secure in the relationship, rather avoid sending anything incriminating or potentially humiliating.
- Talk about sexting. It sounds weird, but you need to know where each of you stands on the issue. Are you into flirty or dirty text messages only, or are pictures and videos okay, too? Do you want to make sure your sexting partner only sends you messages when you’re at home? Set some ground rules.
- Make sure you’re not backing up your photos. Contrary to most advice you’ll hear about photos on your smartphone, sext messages are the one type you don’t want to back up! Also make sure you turn off auto-upload features in apps like Dropbox and Box, as well as Photo Stream if you’re an iPhone user.
- Be prepared to own it. Sexting will never be 100% safe, and there’s always a risk that your personal content will get out. This means not only that strangers could see it, but friends and family, too. Are you okay with that?
From virtual to reality
Remember that often, sexting turns into real-life sex, and when that happens, it’s vital to use protection every time. Dual protection is the most effective way to prevent STIs, HIV and unwanted pregnancy, so even if you’re using birth control, make sure you use a condom too.
If you need help finding the right type of protection, remember than you can get long and short-term contraceptives, as well as confidential advice, at any Marie Stopes centre in SA. Find your nearest centre now or book an appointment online.