Sexting – a cross between “sex” and “texting” – is often seen as an erotic act, but a new study has found two third of saucy messages are sent for “non-sexual” reasons.
While some, for instance those in long-distance relationships, might use texts to anticipate sexy time with their partner, others use flirty messages for different purposes entirely.
This is according to research from the Sexuality, Sexual Health & Sexual Behaviour Lab at the Texas Tech University’s Department of Psychological Sciences.
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Assistant professor Joseph M. Currin and doctoral student Kassidy Cox explored the modern relationship phenomenon, through collecting data online from 160 respondents aged between 18 and 69.
They found there are three main motivations behind texting, with respondents split almost equally into the following categories: using sexting as foreplay for sexual activity, sexting for relationship reassurance and sexting as a favour, with the expectation to be rewarded non-sexually e.g. a dinner date.
“It was intriguing that two-thirds of the individuals who engaged in sexting did so for non-sexual purposes,” said Currin.
“This may actually be demonstrating some individuals engage in sexting, but would prefer not to, but do so as a means to either gain affirmation about their relationship, relieve anxiety or get something tangible - non-sexual - in return.”
Interestingly, the researchers found no significant differences based on gender, sexual orientation or age – the three separate motivations were common among all these groups.
“This study highlighted the main reasons to date that individuals are motivated to sext, and it actually normalises all three types of motivations,” said Cox.
What constitutes sexting?
While you may or may not be sending nude pictures on a regular basis, the practice can involve sending anything from graphic messages to simply using a suggestive aubergine emoji.
“As it is becoming a more accepted method of communicating one's sexual desires, we wanted to highlight how adults utilise this behaviour in their relationships,” Currin said.
“This tells us that sexting among adults is an evolution of how we have communicated our sexual desires to our partners in the past. People used to write love poems and steamy letters, then when photography became more common place, couples used to take boudoir photos for each other.”
So, sexting is the new love sonnet? Seen in this context, it may make more sense why some of us are using these messages for other relationship purposes.
But, others remain more traditional when it comes to love – a woman earlier this year stressed the benefit of small, romantic gestures – such as a complimentary text or compilation playlist.