Researchers at the University of Alberta studied the effects of sexting on the relationships of 615 people, of varying sexualities, ages, educations and ethnicities.
Although couples who regularly exchanged titillating texts had greater sexual satisfaction compared to those who didn’t, they also reported a higher degree of couple conflict.
Plus, sexters said they felt insecure in their relationship and showed lower levels of commitment. Frequent and hyper-sexters were overall far less satisfied with other aspects of their relationships.
"My interpretation is that the sexters are focusing more on the sexual part of their relationship and may be neglecting other areas,” said Adam Galovan, a family scientist and the lead author of the study.
Unsurprisingly, sexters also reported a high degree of “technology interference” in their relationships, i.e. using phones during face-to-face conversations, meals or down time with their partner. Galovan says that prioritising technology over personal interaction could be why other, non-sexual, parts of the relationship are a struggle.
"These folks want to get to the end goal – a good relationship – without doing the hard work of talking, listening and spending quality time together," Galovan said.
He believes our culture of instant gratification could be to blame.
"They need to put the phone down and have a good old-fashioned conversation – spend some time together nurturing the relationship – instead of shortcutting with sexting to try to get a quality relationship."
There has been plenty of other research about the role of sexting in a relationship.
A study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that 21 per cent of those surveyed – the majority of whom were women – reported being coerced into sending sexual images. Several studies also suggest that coerced sexting may be a red flag for domestic violence. Other research found that those who have a high fear of negative evaluation from their partner were more likely to engage in sexting, which could suggest that they’re only doing so to please their partner.
Obviously, this is not the case for all avid sext-ers but it's worth the reminder that if you're not 100% keen to swap sexy messages you are well within your rights to say no.