Sexting tends to get a bad rap. When we hear about sexting, it tends to be in the context of politicians cheating on their spouses or randos trying to slide into a woman’s DMs like…
But despite the negative buzz, sexting is a valuable form of flirting with the people you’re dating. More powerful than passively consuming porn, sexting has a powerful erotic charge – the tantalizing buzz of doing something naughty and the electric thrill of a game of risqué escalation. It turns flirting into foreplay and can help keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship.
Of course, the problem is, if you do it wrong, it’s cringe-inducing and awkward. If you want to kick your flirtation up to the next level, you want to learn how to initiate and carry on a fun, seductive chat like a master.
Sexting Starts Slowly
The first and most common mistake guys make when it comes to sexting is that they tend to launch right into it. Sexting isn’t something you just toss out to all and sundry. Just as you don’t start a date by asking for a blowjob1 you don’t immediately jump straight to trying to get someone to talk dirty to you. Sexting is a form of seduction, something you build to. It’s built out of chemistry, trust and arousal.
The second most common mistake men make when it comes to sexting is trying to skip straight to the crotch. As any woman can tell you: texting guys starts an almost inevitable countdown until his junk shows up on their phone. Not surprisingly, this kills sexting before it can ever even start.
Tossing your dick into a conversation with someone you’ve just met like a cat dropping off a dead mole at your feet isn’t the erotic finishing move you think it is. If you’re lucky, it just leads to radio silence. If you’re not… well, don’t be surprised if your dick suddenly becomes Internet famous. Or if she just decides to critique it instead.
But when you’re sexting with an interested partner, you want to let things build. You don’t start cooking with a cold stove; you pre-heat the oven. Flirting is about raising that erotic temperature and building interest. You start with teasing, banter and innuendo and let the moment carry you along. Going straight to dirty talk is an amateur’s’ move; it’s far more powerful to create the atmosphere where sexy talk is inevitable and unambiguously welcome. As you flirt with your partner and things are getting heated, start setting the mood and bait the line. “I’ve had the most delicious thought about you…” can jumpstart far more interesting chats than “I WANT TO SEE YUR BOOBS”.
It’s A Dance, Not A Monologue
One of the reasons why sexting can gets awkward – or worse – is because many people forget that flirting isn’t a one-way street. You don’t flirt at someone, you flirt with them. Sexting isn’t about one person nagging the other until he gets what he wants, it’s a dance, reading and responding to your partner. You work together to create a cohesive experience that you both enjoy.
Part of the fun of sexting is the interplay between partners. You play off one another and let their response dictate what you do next; that reciprocity makes each exchange all the more exciting as it starts to build to the point of inevitability.
In practice, this means that you have to be sensitive to the message that your partner sends. If you set up the potential flirting with a line like “You won’t believe the dream I had about you last night” and she doesn’t bite, then it’s a sign that she isn’t interested. Similarly, if she takes things in a decidedly unsexy direction, then the thing to do is dial it back. What you don’t do is push even harder. Nobody has ever annoyed their way into booty. Begging for sexy pictures is a great way to kill any attraction she may have had for you.
On the other hand, if she escalates with with something flirty? Then it’s your turn, and you have the chance to push the envelope… just a little. Remember, part of the key to building sexual tension is the slow build up, not diving in head first.
The other thing to remember: as in a dance, you have to lead. You can’t just toss out the line and hope she does all the work. Half-assedness doesn’t get you anywhere; if you’re going to flirt and sext, your partner deserves the whole ass.
Use Your Words
Sure, when we think of sexting, we think of photos. But sexting isn’t just pics, it’s all forms of arousing someone via their DMs. Long before we had the capability to send sexy pictures to our lovers, we had to use our words to convey our meaning.
People have been using words to arouse and inflame the senses since humanity developed the concept of language. The Song of Songs in the Old Testament is an almost pornographic ode to sexual desire between lovers. Heloise and Abelard famously conducted their affair across thousands of miles with nothing but passionate letters to sustain their connection. Expressing yourself with your words can be more powerful than even the most explicit pictures. Words, after all, prompt your partner to imagine the scene herself, which can be even more erotically charged; it makes her complicit in her own arousal.
So as much as you may want to see some nipples, you want to use your words to seduce. Set up the fantasy. What is the scene? Have you just gotten out of the shower? Is she lounging around in a silk robe with nothing underneath? What do you want to do? What do you want done to you? Imagine how it feels and describe the sensations you want to create.
If you aren’t feeling confident in your own ability to paint pictures with your words, then you want to learn from the masters. Read the sex scenes in books that get you charged up and study how the author uses language. You especially want to read erotica and the stories that get women excited. You may feel a little odd browsing the Yuri on Ice section of Archive of Our Own but it can be an education in what to say that gets people hot and bothered.
Of course, if you’re going to be sexting with your words, you need to use them properly. This means proper spelling and grammar and minimal use of emoji. “I want to feel the way you writhe under my finger tips” is hot; “want 2 fuk ur 🌮” is not. Remember:
Now, that having been said…
Sexy Pictures Are An Artform
Pictures and video are an intrinsic part of sexting. With the advent of portable pornography studios and distribution centers2 taking and sharing dirty pictures of ourselves has become an intrinsic part of how we relate to one another sexually. However, the fact that it’s easy to take a sexy selfie doesn’t mean that those pictures are worth seeing. One of the reasons why dick pics are mocked is because frankly, they’re objectively awful. The composition is for shit, the lighting is awful, there’s no context and the photographers are convinced of the erotic power of the cock by itself, rising from the brush like a fleshy wrinkled obelisk from 2001.
If you’re going to sext, you want to sext well. That means taking pictures that will actually turn on your partner. After all, you want this to lead to sex, not awkward comparisons to naked mole-rats, no?
Looking good in photos is an artform and doubly so when it comes to sexting. The same considerations that make for a good Tinder profile picture apply to sexting. Start with understanding your angles. When someone talks about getting their good side, they’re not just being pretentious; we’re all slightly asymmetrical, so one side tends to look better in photos than the other. This is why you want to start making friends with selfies. Taking regular selfies help you get familiar with your own appearance and get you feeling more comfortable with the camera. The more comfortable you are, the more knowledgeable you’ll be. The more you know about how to look good, the better your sexts will be.
While we’re on the subject, remember that proper lighting is your friend. Good lighting makes you look amazing; shitty lighting makes you look like a jaundiced goblin with a skin condition. Indirect natural light is the best light for selfies. Overhead lighting, on the other hand, ages you and emphasizes every crease and wrinkle you have. Fluorescent lighting is the goddamn worst and should be avoided at all costs.
Similarly, consider things like framing and context. Part of what makes mirror selfies a turn-off is that they’re a reminder that you’re in the bathroom. It’s hard to get turned on when your toilet is hovering in the lower left like the ghosts of Taco Bells past. Mirror selfies can be good, especially if the mirror is used as a frame, but it has to be done well. Don’t destroy the moment because you’ve made your partner remember that the mold in your shower has evolved and is now demanding to be taken to your leader.
Just as importantly is understanding what makes a picture sexy. Despite what we’ve been told for generations, women are visual creatures, just like men are.The reason why women – even women who love dick the way Charlie Sheen loves cocaine – don’t find disembodied phalloi interesting is that it’s the holistic whole that turns women on, not just the mushroom – even if a Smurf could live in it. So study the masters. That means eschewing men’s ideas of what women want – and pay attention to what women love to look at. Check Tumblr, especially gay Tumblr and research what people respond to. Visit subreddits like /r/ladyboners and examine the photos that drive women wild. Notice how rarely it involves dicks by themselves. Or even dicks at all.
In fact, less can be more. Full on nudity is often less sexy than what we can’t see. What’s suggested makes us far more interested than what’s there. Show a nipple and guys are interested. Just barely hide that nipple and dudes will break their necks trying to see it. Same with women: what you imply will get people far more hot and bothered than laying it out. Let that desire be frustrated and it’ll make them want it even more when they do get the pay-off.
This can actually be to your benefit…
Practice Safe Sexting
One of the hard truths when it comes to sexting is that those naughty fun moments can turn around and bite you in the ass. And not in the consensual, fun way. Unfortunately, assholes are going to ass, and the Internet is forever. It’s bullshit and it’s unfair, but sexting – even between consenting partners – can fuck you up if you’re not careful. The news is rife with stories of people whose lives and careers were ruined because pictures they shared with a lover escaped into the wild. Even if you are cool with being naked, other people may not be – including your current or future employers.
The fact of the matter is, there’s an almost infinite number of ways that your private photos – or your lovers’ – can get spread far and wide. You may send a photo to the wrong person and end up a new Tumblr superstar. A jilted lover may spread them around. Their ex may go looking through their phone. Your phone may get hacked. Computer repair services have been notorious for snooping through hard drives looking for porn.
There are no 100% sure ways of keeping your sexts secure. For every Snapchat-esque promise of timed deletion, there are just as many people finding ways of circumventing those safeguards. For every password protected storage, there’s a Fappening. If you’re going to sext, then be safe. Keeping things suggestive but not explicit minimizes the exploitation factor. Maintain your plausible deniability and keep your face – or identifying marks like tattoos or scars – out of the picture. Only sext with lovers and partners you absolutely trust and delete the evidence as soon as you’re done. If you are going to store them, keep them in a secure location – ideally one that’s not connected to a network. If you’re going to Dropbox it, enable your two-factor authentication and use a password generator like 1Password.
This article originally appeared on Dr. Nerd Love
Photo credit: Getty Images