Sexting Often Portrayed As Negative…But What Are The Positives?

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Sexting has been portrayed as a negative sexual risk behavior in youth, but there might be some positive correlates of sexting in the adult population.

Texting

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Texting

Sexting has become a fairly commonly used term to describe the act of sending someone a sexually explicit message or photo via text message. It has received a lot of negative attention in the media lately because some research has found that sexting is associated with teens engagement in risky sexual behavior such as engaging in unprotected sex. So I suppose it is to be expected that sexting has formed a bit of a bad reputation.

But what about the potentially positive outcomes of sexting? Take sexting behavior outside of the context of teens, and sexting may not be so bad afterall.

Interestingly, a study was recently published that recommended sexting with a partner as an intervention method for couples therapy. Very creative, if you ask me! This study, conducted by Dr. Trent Parker and colleagues at University of Kentucky, was published in The American Journal of Family Therapy. The researchers aimed to understand how sexting is used in the context of adult married and dating relationships. They found that sexting was related to greater consensus in the couple relationship and that sexting was a hedonistic behavior for these couples.

I found this research particularly interesting because one piece of advice I’ve always given that seems to work has been to use sexting as a vehicle to communicate with your partner about things that you may not feel comfortable communicating verbally. For example, if you want to test out whether your partner would be up for a particular sexual activity, why not text them about it to gauge their reaction without allowing them to see how red in the cheeks you get. This research helps to explain why that advice works for so many couples.

So although there may be some negative implications of teens using sexting as a means of communicating with others, when used in the context of a consensual adult relationship, sexting has the potential to actually be used to create positive change!

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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