If you've sent your partner a dirty text message to spice up your relationship, you're in good company: 58% of the 352 college students surveyed for a recent study in Computers in Human Behavior said they'd sent a sext at some point, and 62% had gotten one. Their most common motives were to be flirtatious and make their partners happy — understandable goals. But did sexting really accomplish them? That was largely situation-dependent.
The good news is that sexting overall seems to improve relationships, or at least not hurt them. Half of the people surveyed said their sexts had either positive or neutral results. As for the rest, two factors seemed to influence whether sexting did any harm: their sender's gender and the type of relationship they had with their sexting buddy.
Women were more likely to have negative experiences with sexting, and while we can only speculate as to why, it's not particularly surprising given the amount of non-consensual dick pics and degrading language that gets transmitted in sexts to women. For the same reason, it makes sense that people sexting with casual partners were more likely to have bad experiences than those sexting with committed partners.
"Many people experience regret or worry about the pictures they have sent to recent partners, and some even report discomfort and trauma at the time they sent the pictures," study author Michelle Drouin told PsyPost.
For those in relationships with people they truly trust, though, sexting does have its benefits. One Drexel University study found that the more people sexted, the more satisfied they were with their relationships. So, like many things, whether or not sexting will benefit you just depends on whether you really want to and how comfortable you are with your sexting partner.
If you want to explore sexting but are tongue-tied (or, perhaps we should say, finger-tied), here are some ideas to try out.