On a scale of butt-naked selfie to suggestive emoji, what do your sexting habits say about your relationship? Well, in the name of sexting science, researchers have decided to study who is the most likely to send sexy messages and why. And what they discovered just might surprise you.
For the study, scientists from California State University and Indiana University polled 459 students about their sexting habits and how they feel about their relationships, if they’re in one. (BTW: Researchers defined sexting as “the sending and receiving of sexually suggestive or sexually explicit photos, video, or text via cell phone or other technologies.”)
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They found that sexting is pretty common—at least among the college kids. Eighty per cent of people surveyed said they’ve sent a sext before. But not all sexts are created equal: 62 per cent have sent a sexually suggestive text, while 55 per cent sent a sexy photo or video. And nearly 40 per cent have sent a naked photo or video.
Researchers also discovered that people who were already in a relationship were the most likely to sext—no shocker there. Bizarrely, people who were the most anxious about their relationship were also the most likely to send the most explicit texts, photos, or videos—including nudie and lingerie pics. People who worried their partner would judge them if they didn't sext were more likely to hit send on explicit messages, too. But…why?
Clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona says feeling anxious about a relationship can impact our decision-making. “A couple’s sexual connection can be perceived the most powerful and validating part of the relationship,” he explains. “So anxiety might fuel attempts to ease insecurities about the relationship by using sexually charged communication.”
In short: When you send a boob pic to your S.O., and get a positive response, you feel better about your bond with bae. Of course, this doesn’t solve the bigger issue of feeling anxious about a relationship—it just provides a quick hit of confidence. “Seeking validation that's focused on the sexual facet of the relationship is not likely to impact what may be much deeper issues,” says Cilona.
But sexologist Jessica O’Reilly says there's nothing wrong with wanting validation and attention in your relationship. "The desire to be wanted and receive attention is universal, but we tend to criticise others for doing so," she says. "We all do it in our own way—sexting is just one way that seems to receive negative attention."
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Basically, if you feel like something is off in your relationship, it's best to address it head on with your partner. Sexting won't solve your problems, unfortch. Sex therapist Ian Kerner points out that it's important to think about why you're sexting before you do it. Is it because you're feeling aroused? Awesome.
But if it's to help calm your anxiety, don't do it. "Is sexting when anxious a smart idea? No," he says. "Does the validation feel good? Yes. Does not getting the validation make you feel even more anxious? You bet."
Basically, if you feel like something is off in your relationship, it's best to address it head on with your partner. Sexting won't solve your problems, unfortch.