Most of us have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “sexting,” and understandably so. After all, we often hear of it in the context of political scandals and dangerous activity among teenage minors, making it a taboo subject that most people associate with only negativity.
The study aimed to find out what role sexting plays in adult relationships. For the purposes of the study, sexting was defined as the sending or receiving of sexually suggestive or explicit content through text messages. It’s also important to note that the study focused on sexts between consenting adults, not unwanted messages of photos which could be construed as harassment.
First, researchers had to ask: Do people even sext that much? Turns out, the answer is a resounding “YEP.” Out of 870 heterosexual men and women between the ages of 18 to 82, almost nine out of 10 (88 percent) had sexted before. Of those, 82 percent had sent or gotten a sext in the past year. And there were no gender disparities, either — women were just as likely to sext as men.
With that question out of the way, the researchers then wanted to study the relationship between sexting and sexual satisfaction. Somewhat unsurprisingly, they found that more sexting leads to increased satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship. Participants who identified as single, however, had lower levels of satisfaction.
But in an unexpected twist, researchers also concluded that more sexting was linked to relationship satisfaction for all those EXCEPT those who described their relationship as “very committed.” For them, sexting was unrelated to greater sexual satisfaction, meaning it may lose its appeal once you decide to be exclusive with someone.
The bottom line? Sexting is a lot more popular than you’d think, and that’s probably a good thing. This study proves there may be psychological benefits associated with it, so it might be time to reframe how we think about sexting among consenting adults.