We are all sexting more, but are we doing it right?

What you need to know:

Once you have established that one is up for some dirty talk, talk about whether or not you want to keep the material after.

Sexting, which is a combination of texting and sex is the modern-day equivalent of those steamy love letters of earlier decades. While it has been around for a while, Covid-19 forced us to retreat into our homes and as sexually transmitted disease cases were going down, we were learning new ways to sexually satisfy ourselves from a distance.

According to a research from the University of Alberta in Canada, up to 80 percent of people the world over and across all age groups are sexting each other.  Looks like almost all of us are doing it but do women really enjoy it? Or is it a fun, harmless ingredient that could make your relationship even better?

“My introduction to sexting was an unsolicited photograph of a phallus that a stranger of Asian origin sent to my Facebook Inbox. I was 19,” says Aimee Nzau. “I now enjoy it with people I am dating but I am cautious,” she adds.

Tess, a 33-year-old dentist admits that she has sexted in past relationships and even in her current relationship where she is cohabiting with her partner. When asked what she feels about it, she says she is wary.

“It depends on the person and the situation. When it is good, it is amazing and when it is bad, it is awful. There are very fine lines,” she says.

“I have not sexted because men I have dated just do not enjoy it. I find it mechanical. I would have to say things and use language that I would never use face to face. I prefer the real thing,” says Wambui Ndwiga, 34.


Eunice Thairu, a counselling psychologist, says different women will prefer different forms of sexting. Some will be up for the milder suggestive kind while others want to dive right into the explicit stuff. It all depends on personality type and the level of intimate comfort in a relationship.

“Whether or not a woman enjoys sexting as part of a relationship depends on her attachment style,” she says.

Those with anxious attachment styles will take to sexting to feel closer to their love interest, especially when they are physically away while avoidant people will use sexting to still receive gratification while keeping their sexual partners at an arm’s length.

Why are we doing it?

The most obvious answer given by those who have sent nude and semi-nude photographs is to turn the receiver on. Research on the subject by researchers from the University of Arizona turned up interesting findings.

While both men and women shared having sent sexually explicit videos and images because they felt pressured to reciprocate, women were reported to be four times as likely as men to participate in sexting because they were afraid that their partner would lose interest in them if they failed to participate.

This may point to a sexual double standard that may cause some women to be averse to texting.

The danger of revenge porn

L. Atemi, a 32-year-old content creator, shudders at the thought of sexting or any other form of digital sexual intimacy. She knows too well how much spice it can add to a relationship and also how much damage it can do. You see, two years ago, she indulged a man she was dating.

“He was a writer so he was good at it. Because writing is not my strong suit, I would send photos and videos and voice notes. It made our relationship much better,” she recalls.

Then, as with many relationships, things fell apart and when she tried to move on with someone else, her ex unleashed her explicit images to the internet.

“It was devastating. Nothing can prepare you for revenge porn. And now I have a six-month-old daughter and I know that the internet never forgets. I will never ever send such messages again. Even if I get married and the man is my husband. I learnt my lesson,” she says.

Sexologist Dr Emily Morse in her podcast; Sex with Emily advises that as with any other sexual consent, consent during sexting is crucial.

“Get consent, ask how they feel about sexting before ambushing them with a photo of your bosom,” she says.

Similarly, for your own comfort and safety, she recommends laying down the ground rules beforehand. Once you have established that one is up for some dirty talk, talk about whether or not you want to keep the material after.

“If you feel you are being used and not getting anything from the activity, do not do it. And if you are concerned about breach of trust, do not do it,” Dr Morse adds

Peer pressure

She also warns against the pressure of feeling the need to reciprocate.

“Just because someone sends a nude does not mean you are obligated to reciprocate,” she says.

Having someone you trust to enjoy this level of intimacy is one thing. But we also know how unsafe the digital space can be. Once you press send, you lose control and you never really know where this image could end up.

Cynthia Ochoieng, a social media manager, says there are ways of keeping yourself digitally safe even in instances where exes decide to use your images to get back at you.

Number one, she says, know your angles.

“Your face and your distinguishing features are what give you away. Do not let fear keep you from exploring. But always keep your face and your distinct features such as tattoos out of view. There are also ways of digitally adding tattoos on your photos to keep you anonymous in the event of such a leak,” she says.

How to send that mind-blowing sext

“Do not skip the foreplay,” writes Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist and relationship expert in her book The Ultimate Guide to Seduction &Foreplay: Techniques and strategies for mind-blowing sex.

Second, get all five senses involved. Instead of the traditional old semi-nude picture, try a video or even a voice note. For some people, she notes, the voice of their partner is the sexiest thing in the world. Third, beware of drunk sexting. If you have had a few, you have no business trying to sext.

Finally, do not get carried away with it.