“I’ll send u a dick pic if u show me ur boobs.”
At fourteen, this was a shocking and hilarious text message to receive. My best friend and I giggled for a while before deciding that the best response to such a forward and unusual inquiry would be to send a close-up photo of her brother’s pectoral muscles in a bra so that we could still gawk and guffaw at the dick pic without compromising our reputations.
It worked. The dick pic was taken in a bathroom mirror. It was a full body shot with the face included, a rookie mistake. But my friend and I deleted the photo immediately, saving the young man in question from the fate of the other sexters at our high school whose photos were circulated throughout the student body. Sexting had always seemed to me juvenile and pointless—what was I supposed to do with a picture of someone’s semi-erect penis other than giggle and show my friends?
While sexting and the digital distribution of nude photos was and is frowned upon by many—especially among minors, as it is legally child pornography—other aspects of sexual and romantic relationships have become digitized in recent years. Many people are meeting their life partners on dating websites, or meeting up with people for casual sex using cell phone applications such as Tinder and Grindr. With the invention of video chatting, long-distance relationships are becoming all the more possible. As a generation that has grown up with such advents of modern technology as these, we have naturally learned how to incorporate these tools into our sex lives.
I’m surely not the first to admit that cyber sex has been an important part of my long-distance relationships, and I must say that I am a huge fan. While getting naked over Skype certainly doesn’t even come close to getting down and dirty in person, it can feel really intimate and also be incredibly sexy. Undressing for your partner and mutually masturbating in front of a computer screen can feel a bit like watching and participating in porn, but in my experience, exposing yourself in such a vulnerable way can increase intimacy, and knowing that your partner is experiencing sexual pleasure because they are watching you do the same thing is so sexy. Along with Skype and cyber sex, sending photos via the Internet is also a way that couples maintain a sexual relationship while living far apart from each other.
As every couple, monogamous or not, has a right to use the Internet in any way that they choose, it is important to keep in mind the permanence of images sent digitally. Recently, I discovered a file of nude photos from an ex that I could have sworn I deleted; it turned out they had been saved all along, tucked away in my downloads folder. Not only are these images somewhat permanent regardless of what you do with them, but if the relationship ends badly, you never know whose hands your sexy photos might end up in! Also, keep in mind that it is extremely easy to screenshot Skype conversations.
It is obviously preferable to avoid intimate images of your naked body circulating on the Internet. Some good ways to prevent this from becoming an issue:
1. Never include your face in the photos, should you choose to send them.
2. Don’t use Snapchat to send nude photos, as screenshots are possible. Just because Snapchat alerts you when screenshots are taken doesn’t mean that you can do anything about it.
3. Only send pictures that make you feel sexy and that you are comfortable taking. Never send a photo of yourself or engage in cyber sex for the sole reason that someone else wants you to!
4. Most importantly, only engage in sexting or cyber sex with someone that you trust. The same guidelines that you set for yourself in regards to real live sex should also apply for being sexually intimate via technology.
While sexting and cyber sex are risky, they can be great ways to keep long-distance relationships alive. If you don’t want to send a photo, don’t forget that words can be sexy too. Proceed with caution, and safe sexting!