A beginner’s guide to sexting

<div>A beginner’s guide to sexting</div>
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Sexting, as Bo Burnham taught us, isn’t sex — it’s the next best thing.

I personally wouldn’t go that far, but sexting can be pretty fun and downright hot if done right. The rub is that the act can also be an awkward minefield. Thoughts may cross your mind, like: Is now a good time to sext? What do I even say?

To answer these questions, we asked the sexperts. As it turns out, sexting (like sex itself) is an opportunity for you to liberate yourself, explore what you want in bed, and get to know your partner better.

How to sext

Sexting can benefit both you and your budding relationship (or hookup, or however you define it).

By sharing your desires and boundaries together, you’re forging a deeper connection. Texting feels lower stakes than talking in person, especially if your relationship is new. Thus, it’s a great option if you’re shy about sex and have difficulty vocalizing what you want, said Casey Tanner, a certified sex therapist and sex expert for toy brand LELO.

Make no mistake, though: Sexting is legitimate communication, even if it’s through screens.

Sending saucy messages back and forth can even be a kind of foreplay. It can build suspense and anticipation for when you see each other in-person next, even if that won’t be anytime soon.

How to ask for consent while sexting

Before anything else, get consent — both about sexting in general and for individual sessions.

Ask yourself if you trust your partner enough to sext, advised Edwina Caito, a head writer at sex/sex toy blog BedBible. Decide if you’re comfortable with the activity in the first place.

If yes, Tanner offered more questions to self-reflect: Is your style more flirty, raunchy, or suggestive? Are you OK sending nudes, and if so, what body parts do you want to photograph?

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Have conversations about these boundaries before your first roll around in the digital hay. Set ground rules, said Caito, whether they be time-related — such as, don’t send nudes before 6 p.m. when someone may be at work — or about what kind of media and messages you will and won’t send.

You can even set a boundary for which messaging services you prefer to use to sext. Apps like Snapchat and Signal have features like disappearing chats, and the former sends a notification when the other person screenshots your messages. Alternatively, turn on Instagram’s vanish mode for the same features.

As sexuality educator Jamie J. LeClaire wrote for sex wellness shop Unbound’s blog, set an expectation for language used in sexts, too. If you’re uncomfortable with some words — say ones that describe genitalia — tell your partner, and encourage them to share any words they dislike in turn.

Furthermore, consent at one time doesn’t extend to every time. Always make sure it’s OK to send through a naughty text or photo before doing it. A tip from Unbound is having a go-to emoji that serves as a way to ask, “Is now a good time for you to receive some smut?”

And never, ever share messages or other media that a partner sent to you (unless they ask you to, that is).

Person in bed with computer and phone and vibrator looking satisfied

Sexting is a lower-stakes way to express your desires to your partner.
Credit: Bob Al-Greene / Mashable

How to start sexting conversations

Tanner said to keep your messages pithy if you’re just starting out. “Keeping messages on the shorter side gives you a little more leeway to ease into something new,” she said. “You also give yourself more space to reflect in between texts about what feels good and where your boundaries are.”

Your first message can be coy while sparking your partner’s interest and making them think (about you, or an experience you both had in the past).

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A couple examples Caito gave to get things rolling, are:

  • “I’m lying in bed and can’t stop thinking about you.”

  • “I can’t stop thinking about what we did the other night.”

Another option is to ask your partner questions, like:

  • “What would you do if you were here right now?”

  • “What was your favorite part about the other night?”

These texts are suggestive enough to gauge how your partner feels at the moment and get the conversation going. Feel free to be more direct if that’s your style, though. You can let your partner know that, say, you’ve just gotten out of the shower and haven’t put anything on yet. There’s also the classic, “What are you wearing?”

Tips for great sexting

Now that you’re engaging in textual coitus, where do you go from here?

Be as explicit as you want to be. You don’t need to even refer to actual body parts if you don’t want to, euphemistically or not. “I’m so wet” has the same impact as literally describing the state of your crotch, for instance.

Caroline Spiegel, founder of audio porn site Quinn, suggests contextualizing your sexy messages by telling your partner how you feel about them, what you want to do with them, and what you believe are their hottest features.

You can ask your partner to share fantasies, but don’t feel pressure to reveal everything about your sexuality in one go, said Tanner. Texting your partner that they’ll “just have to wait and see” can be just as tantalizing as revealing your desires.

To that end, you don’t need to talk about activities you don’t want to do. Instead, guide the conversation back to what gets you going, said Caito.

Compliment your partner, said Spiegel, to show you’re really paying attention to them. Some examples she said are:

  • “I love the way you look at me when you…”

  • “I can’t stop thinking about that time when you said…”

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Another tip of Spiegel’s is to use your partner’s actual name as opposed to a pet name. “You might be surprised how hot it is to be called by your real name in a spicy context,” she said.

How to send sexy voice notes and videos

Texts are great, but you can also incorporate different mediums to produce a multimedia sexting experience.

With iMessage and WhatsApp, for instance, you can send sexy voice notes. “I hear all the time from women how they wish their boyfriends or significant others would send audio notes or videos instead of dick pics,” said Spiegel.

Hearing your partner’s voice can be encouraging (“such a hot photo”). Cursing can also go a long way.

You can send photos and videos as well, or even take it to FaceTime if texting just isn’t enough. And, of course, GIFs and emoji are easy options if words just can’t express what you want to get across.

Caito also suggested an app-controlled sex toy your partner can handle if you’re long-distance…but it’s a toss-up on whether they’ll work. As former Mashable reporter Jess Joho found, Bluetooth sex toys may have more connectivity problems than they’re worth.

As with physical sex, it may take time to get in a sexting groove with a partner, and that’s OK. The more you communicate your desires, whether vocal or over text, the easier it’ll get.

Sexting can be a place to explore fantasies and get creative, said Tanner — all from the comfort of your fingertips.

This article was first published in 2021 and republished in 2024.


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