You already know how to sext if you've ever had a text conversation with someone that turned a little heated. The practice has been around since the dawn of the flip phone, when texts were typed by tapping out individual letters and photos arrived only partially pixelated.
But much like everything else when it comes to sex, just because you may have done something once doesn't mean that it'll work the same way the second time around. Everyone is different so what works for one person over the phone won't work for another.
Whether you want to learn how to sext safely on one of the best sex apps or you're looking to liven things up with your current partner, sexting can be a great way to approach a new level of intimacy.
What is sexting?
At its most basic level, sexting is exchanging sexually explicit messages, pictures, or videos. But it’s so much more than that in actuality; sexting can be flirting, foreplay, a way to spice up your relationship or get out of a dry patch, a chance to explore new sexual fantasies, and ultimately, develop more intimacy with your partner.
“Sexting can be something that really improves a relationship and it can get couples out of an intimacy rut, over a dry patch, or help them switch things up,” says Julia Kotziamani (opens in new tab), a sex and relationship coach and educator who specializes in helping women reconnect with their sexuality.
“It’s a space where you can surprise and excite each other in new ways and try out ideas and fantasies without the pressure of being face to face, or having to act on them right now. It’s also a great way to remind your partner that you find them hot and exciting, and it can be a really good confidence booster,” she says. “We all like to feel attractive and reminding your partner you find them gorgeous can do wonders for their self-esteem.”
While this explicit type of messaging has been handed a bad reputation in the past, and research from the University of Calgary (opens in new tab) even linked it to a higher risk of mental health difficulties in 2019, there’s nothing wrong with sexting between two consenting adults.
“My partner and I are big fans of sexting,” says Barbara Santini (opens in new tab), psychologist and sex therapist. “In all honestly, it’s done a lot for our romantic attraction and emotional relationship. Through sexting, we knew each other’s deepest desires in the bedroom. This made us incorporate a few new things into our sexual routine.”
Sexting can also help you be more confident in the bedroom and makes for a great prelude for foreplay, she adds. “Teasing each other throughout the day makes our foreplay more fun and exciting. As a result, our big game is always hot.”
Want to give it a go? This is what Barbara, Julia, and Kate Moyle (opens in new tab), a psychosexual therapist and certified psycho-sexologist, have to say about how to sext in the best way possible.
How to sext
1. Talk about it with your partner first
“Firstly, as a basic, it’s a good idea to broach it with your partner rather than just springing it on them,” says Kate Moyle, sexual wellness brand LELO (opens in new tab)’s sex and relationship expert. “Consent is sexy and it applies across all sexual experiences. You can either bring it up in conversation in person or by text, but just launching straight into it might catch your partner off guard and that also may not bring you the response you’re looking for.”
Instead, explore the idea with them or introduce it, and they can help you gauge the mood, she adds. “If they don’t seem that into it, you can always ask what it is that they might like to try or could be open to.”
2. Start with something suggestive
Utilize all the benefits of your phone and start off with something suggestive, like an emoji. “If you want to learn how to sext and aren’t sure where to begin, you can start with something suggestive rather than explicit, and actually, leaving it up to your partner’s imagination can be in itself a real turn-on," says Moyle.
And if you don't have the words to say what you want, she adds, "then emojis can be a good way of hinting about what you might be into."
She says, “Sexting can be a great way of building up anticipation and desire. If you’re into it then it’s a great way to flirt, which is something that often gets lost once we are settled into relationships.”
3. Get your timing right
One of the main reasons to check in with your partner before going into detail about all the different sex positions you'd like to try is because there's nothing worse than badly-timed sexting.
“Timing is key,” confirms Moyle. “Check in with your partner about what they are up to first before you try and launch into a sex exchange to find out that they are in the middle of an human resources meeting.”
Checking if your partner is busy first will also mean that you aren’t left waiting for their reply, she says. “A simple ‘what are you up to?’ or ‘are you busy?’ goes a long way.”
4. Remember to go with the flow
When it comes to sexting, you really have to go with the flow. Much like having sex with someone for the first time in real life, sexting doesn't always go perfectly the first time around.
“Don’t have a set plan of how you think it will go,” Moyle suggests. “And don’t panic if it doesn’t go perfectly straight away. Learn to laugh it off together and take it as trial and error. You both can’t know exactly where the other one is going to go with the conversation or how they are going to respond, particularly if you haven’t tried it before.”
So be open minded, but if your sexy convo heads in a direction that you’re not sure about, then just communicate that clearly. “You should both be aware of each other’s boundaries,” she adds. “An upfront conversation about any no-go topics or hard limits can also be really useful.”
5. Use more adjectives and verbs than you might think
The whole idea behind sexting is to describe what you'd like to do with your partner the next time you're alone, or explore sexual fantasies that'll never be acted out in real life. To do this, you'll need to flex your language skills and come up with exciting adjectives and verbs to describe them, yourself, and the situation.
"This is a surefire way of creating a steamy image in your partner's mind," says Santini, who works with unique sex toy brand Peaches and Screams (opens in new tab). "Believe me, using more colorful language can make them more interested in sexting with you."
6. Think outside the box
When it comes to how to sext, thinking outside the box is essential. “Is there a scene from a movie that made you horny? If yes, share it with your partner," suggests Santini. "This shows you want to try something new in the bedroom."
But thinking outside the box goes beyond what you talk about over text, it's also about where you have the conversation. "Trial sexting when you have some time apart like a business trip,” suggest’s LELO’s Kate Moyle. “Try it over a time when you won’t be seeing each other for a little longer than usual. This also allows you the chance to settle into it and start slowly building it up in intensity or explicitness as you grow in comfort and confidence.”
7. Know the nude etiquette
Along with sexually explicit messages, some people choose to send photos - otherwise known as 'nudes' for obvious reasons - and videos. When it comes to sexting and sex in general, doing what you are comfortable with and what you enjoy is the most important thing.
No one should ever feel pressured into sexting, sending pictures, or videos of any variety at any time. However, some people do enjoy getting dressed up - or down - and sending pictures to a partner.
"Pressure in either direction to go beyond what feels comfortable and sexy for anyone is an absolute no-no. You can test the water by asking if that’s something they would be interested in exploring, and any boundaries they have, and by getting very honest with yourself about what about it will turn you on. Consent chats don’t have to ruin the mood, they can be lighthearted and part of the fun but either way, they should be a non-negotiable," Kotziamani stresses.
"As a general rule, I say if you wouldn’t show it in real life, don’t send it in a pic. This way you know you aren’t just sending things for validation," she says.
If you decide that you do want to send a photo or video, take some time to explore the environment you like the most so you feel confident. "Let your inner artist shine and play around with clothing and angles so you portray what you want. Most people don't find blurry, badly framed naked pictures a turn-on, so taking just a little bit of time and effort can really make a difference."
Can sexting improve your relationship?
Yes, there’s actual evidence that sending your partner sexts can improve your relationship. According to a study by Drexel University (opens in new tab), there's a solid link between sexting and sexual satisfaction with those who've engaged in the activity reporting higher levels of relationship and sexual satisfaction.
Most (73%) of those in the study were in committed relationships and, surprisingly, most of the sexting occured at home rather than 'out and about'.
Don’t expect to experience the benefits from day one though. “It can take a little while to work out what floats your boat and overcome nerves, but once it’s safe and flowing, it can be a great addition to most intimate partnerships,” says Kotziamani. “It’s also a way to get playful during periods where the day-to-day slog is impacting your partnerships.
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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