I challenge you to find someone who hasn’t sexted a partner at least once.
Sexting — sending nude or suggestive photos and explicit messages to a romantic partner — is often used as a way of keeping each other interested, especially in long distance relationships.
However, some people are “hyper-sexters,” sending and receiving an abundance of sexts — and according to a new study from the University of Alberta, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, while these people tend to report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction, their romantic relationships can suffer in other ways.
Researchers surveyed a sample of 615 Canadian and American adults, all in relationships, about their sexting habits. People were then separated into four groups: non-sexters, word-only sexters, frequent, and hyper sexters.
While sexting does suggest a close, trusting relationship with a partner, hyper-secters were also more ambivalent about their relationship, less secure, and were less committed than non-sexters. They were also more likely to watch porn, and flirt with other people on social media.
“Sexting doesn’t seem to be a feature of a healthy relationship,” said Adam Galovan, professor of human ecology and lead author of the study. “My interpretation is that the sexters are focusing more on the sexual part of their relationship and may be neglecting other areas.”
He said it could be a result of technology taking precedence over real life interaction with their partners. Rather than talking and getting to know someone in person, they want to take shortcuts. Unfortunately, that isn’t the best way to nurture a connection with someone.
“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. “It’s the instant gratification culture — we want it now. But it’s what you do to get to that goal that actually defines a good relationship.”
Previous research has found sexting is quite prolific in society, with 58% of college students admitting they’ve sent at least one sext, and 62% saying they’ve received one. Men were more likely to sext with a casual partner, while women preferred to do it with someone they were exclusive with.
About half of the respondents said the sexting had led to positive sexual or emotional experiences, but the other half said the consequences had been negative.
For example, many people feel regret or worry about the pictures they have sent to past partners, and are anxious the photos will resurface. Others even said they felt discomfort at the time of actually sending the picture, but did it anyway.
Out of the sample of 352 undergraduate students, women and people in casual sexual relationships reported fewer benefits of sending sexts than men or people in committed relationships.
So if you want to know whether sexting is good or bad for a relationship — it depends. If you and your partner trust each other and you both feel it is beneficial, there’s no reason it should be damaging to your relationship.
However, while sex is important, if you’re looking for a more meaningful connection, it’s important not to ignore the other stuff.