Let’s Talk About Sexting: A Roundtable

Sexting can be a great way to flirt, build communication in a low-pressure environment, talk about sex when you might not be able to otherwise, stay close in your long-distance relationship and, obviously, get someone off. Everyone is sexting more than ever.

In a discussion of sexting as a whole different form of sex — rather than a poor imitation of it — Sand Avidar-Walzer writes:

“The opposition between physical sex and virtual sex is not an opposition between real and fake, between a true world and its pale imitation. It’s an opposition between being able to do something — to fantasize, to direct one’s own desires — and being unable to do something — having one’s desires limited and constrained by external factors. The pleasure of fantasy, its psychic value, is its promise of a space in which desire is unconstrained by reality. At its core, the difference between fantasy and materiality is not the kind of desire involved but its direction: ‘real’ desire is directed outward; fantasy is directed inward. […] Sexting isn’t a failure to locate a willing partner; there’s someone exchanging message with you, right? Rather, it’s an opportunity to get feedback on your desire; it’s a way of talking about yourself using naked pictures.”

Below, Autostraddle team members share our thoughts about when we sext, why we sext and what sexting means for us.

All About Innuendo

I guess the truth is that for me sexting isn’t really a separate act from texting. Like I’m not sure where to draw the line or if it’s even a big deal. I might be texting someone about dinner we’re going to have later and then throw in, “Did I mention how excited I am for dessert :p” For me it’s just more natural that way.

I mean, yes, I have definitely had those nights where a “what are you doing right now?” turns into a “what would you do to me if I were there with you?” turns into a “I am so wet right now. I can’t wait to see you and fuck you.” But in the reality I’m much more likely to leave frequent sexy afterthoughts than spend a long period of time all at once playing out a text-based fantasy.

In some ways I think the recurrent sexy afterthoughts are more fun because they’re more similar to the way we flirt in person. I don’t usually call someone up in the middle of the day to tell them how hot they would look covered in chocolate syrup while I tie them up and fuck them in the ass. I just don’t. But I might offhandedly wink or slip in some innuendo.

Some Sexts Feel More Real Than Others

I have a confusing relationship with sexting.

I didn’t grow up with it. I first heard about it in college. I was at a holiday party thrown by a group of people one of my best friends really loved, so I was really only tangentially included from the start. Someone, who knows who, said, “Have you heard about this thing the kids are doing? It’s called sexting.” And some had heard of it. I hadn’t. I was kind of used to being the last one in on things, especially with these people where I was an awkward turtle to their — I dunno — suave swans. And once they explained, we all thought it was HILARIOUS. So we all whipped out our Very Cool flip phones and started sexting each other. Not for serious. You know, silly stuff. Stuff we thought was as hilarious as sexting itself. And I pulled out my phone and sent something to the effect of “I would lick you one thousand times.” Which I thought was, you guessed it, hilarious. But the girl I sent it to turned bright red. And everyone ragged on me because mine was “real.”

“What are you talking about? I just treated a woman like a tootsie pop. How many licks does it take to get to the center of—” but it was kinda no use. They weren’t really laughing with me, just at me. And in my awkward turtle phase this was the norm, so I just shrugged it off. I didn’t understand how mine was real when I would have cracked the hell up if my boyfriend had sent it to me. I wouldn’t have ever been able to truly look him in the eye again, let alone find it sexy.

About two years later, I fell in love with my first girl. Sexting was something we definitely did, for real — she had graduated already and lived an hour away, our primary form of communication was getting each other off verbally. In those moments, I looked back and understood why mine might have seemed more “real” than everyone else’s.

A Better Way To Say Goodbye

Sexting is brilliant. Assuming you’re not being harassed by unwanted sexts or being a creepy sender of such, they are a fun and flirty way of communicating your affection or just pure lust. Getting a naughty message from someone about where they wish their hands were can add a welcome bit of excitement to many a banal situation, at the very least it produces a smile.

One particular sexting episode encapsulates the cathartic, awkward and madly frustrating sides of this form of foreplay for me. I was leaving one country for another and this meant saying goodbye to a girl I was seeing. We weren’t entirely sure when we would see each other next and had stayed up the whole night talking and fucking in an attempt to maximize our limited remaining time together. Saying goodbye at the airport was agonizing as we both just felt like making out, but couldn’t as we were in a very conservative country where being gay is still taboo. We hugged tightly for as long as we could while a bunch of men stared. While checking in and going through security, we began to express some of that sexual tension through text. Focusing on the immediate desire somehow made the whole separation less sad; it was a great distraction.

By the time I had reached departures I was excruciatingly turned on and, deciding to take matters into hand, headed for the washroom, still sexting away. My flight was in pre-boarding, but I felt certain this wouldn’t take long. Unfortunately, there was a line up and a very attentive washroom attendant. Any stall would have worked for getting off, but she insisted I wait for the sole westernized one with the toilette. My flight began to board and by the time my stall was free they were doing last call; I had run out of time. I boarded my plane very frustrated indeed, and continued to exchanging salacious texts right until takeoff. I bolted to the bathroom with my cell as soon as the seatbelt sign was off.

Cross-Country Sexting

My person lives across the country, so sexting has definitely become an important part of the way we communicate, an easy way to reaffirm our attraction to each other while living so far apart. We’re both writers, so we both feel strangely challenged to come up with new ideas and descriptors each time to keep things interesting. There’s something really charming about imagining the other person laboriously planning out their phrasing…? Maybe that’s just us.

The thing about sexting, though, is that you both have to be in the same mental state; a friend recently told me a hilarious horror story wherein she wrote her girlfriend a very salacious text message, which said girlfriend did not read before responding to ask if she wanted her to bring home a burrito from Chipotle. You’re putting yourself out there in a pretty major way, and there’s little more nerve-wracking than that hovering “…” as your partner crafts their response.

Done right though, the whole thing can have the pleasant effect of making me feel much closer to my person, as well as having the intended results.

via metro

via metro

I Would Sext Her In The Rain, I Would Sext Her On A Train

I sext because it combines three of my favorite activities — talking to my main person, talking about sex, and having sex.

She and I sexted intensely before we were even dating, both because we were too far away to have all the in-person sex we wanted and because sexting felt like part of a constant, on-going series of love letters. Also because we are both really good at it.

We sexted our way up and down a yes/no/maybe list and then we sexted through all the things we’d both always wanted to try but never really talked about with anyone before, and then we sexted out what those things might feel like, how they might happen, how hard they might make one or both of us come.

We sext when we’re in the same room but we can’t reasonably escape to have sex, and we sext when we’re near each other but might not want to have sex, and we sext when we’re far apart, all the time.

For me, sexting feels like something between a private smile across a crowded table and the best conversation and full-on banging. It makes me feel closer to my person, keeps the sexual tension high, is more tailored than any published erotica ever could be and lets us both come because of each other no matter how far apart we are.

What do you think about sexting? How do you sext? Would you sext on a plane, on a train, in the rain? Tell us in the comments!

Carolyn Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Carolyn has written 1047 articles for us.


  1. The first woman I ever dated was extremely sexual and would sext me all the time. I never really knew what do reply. Thankfully she found my dorky, lame ass replies cute enough to continue to sleep with me anyway. At least that’s what I made myself believe.

  2. Me and my girlfriend sext all the time. We live an hour away from each other and we have only been having sex for like a month. Its amazing and we are both craving each other all the time (she’s 17, I’m 18) and it makes us even closer to sext. We snap chat eachother sexy pics and imagine sexual situations with our conversations. Its awesome and doesn’t feel awkward or unnatural for us at all. Maybe thats bc back when we were just friends we wrote erotic fan fiction together. Anyway its one of my favorite things we do.

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