The problem with telling your kids about the birds and the bees? Birds and bees don’t have cells phones and the Internet.
It's already difficult to navigate sexual politics—and that's before introducing Wi-Fi into the mix. But now, technology has poked even more holes in standard sex ed when it comes to safety and etiquette.
So to help you out, we've compiled the following list of dos and don’ts for having safer and better sext:
1. Keep your head up (and out of frame).
This is sexting 101. Unless you truly trust your partner, showing your face in a scandalous selfie is what’s known in the bargaining world as “collateral.” Even if you doubt your partner would maliciously share compromising photos of you, there's a chance they could accidentally fall into the wrong hands. People’s devices get lost and stolen all the time, which means a stranger could gain access to your most intimate moments.
2. Burn after reading.
It’s in your best interests to delete any sexy photos or messages after you’re done appreciating them (and tell your sextual partner to do the same). Again, it's too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands. Agree to put expiration dates on whatever you send each other, and purge your devices regularly.
3. Protect your sexts.
If something is simply too good to toss, check out third-party apps that let you create private albums accessible only via passcode. Keep in mind that apps get hacked all the time, so even this protective measure isn’t risk-free.
4. Give a cookie, get a cookie.
Just like relationships, sexting should be a two-way street. Even if it’s casual, you should never feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting. Best to go tit for tat (or tit for something equally salacious) when sexting.
5. Don’t ask for it.
I feel confident that I’m speaking for many women when I say none of us like to be asked for a nude photo—especially if we’re not dating the person seriously. For heterosexual couplings, there are gender politics at play: Because of sexist double standards, women are judged far more harshly when their sexually explicit content gets leaked. So, be considerate; if we want to send you a sexy snap, we’ll do so on our own volition. That said, if you really want the goods, maybe start by sending something first.
6. If you’re going to talk the talk…
...be ready to walk the walk. Anything you sext about, you should be able to back up IRL. Don’t make false promises, or pretend to be kinkier than you are for the sake of impressing someone. That’s what I like to call "sexual catfishing."
7. Skip the previews.
If you have an iPhone or you use Facebook's Messenger app, which allow previews of a text to show up on your home screen, do yourself a favor and disable that function. It’s exhausting to always have to remember to keep your phone face-down, just because you don’t want to accidentally flash your racy pic to a coworker. Simply adjusting your settings can save you a whole lot of stress and embarrassment, while protecting your privacy.
8. Send it to the right person.
Duh. But how many times have you gone to send a text message, and replied to the wrong person? What if that person is your mom? Catch my drift? So if you’re doing a lot of back and forth, be sure to clear your inbox of all sexy pics to prevent any mortifying accidents.
9. Dick pics, not dick moves.
Revenge porn is a particularly insidious type of abuse, as it’s been proven particularly difficult to prosecute. What's more, the fallout can really ruin a person's life. No matter what someone did to you, or how badly they broke your heart, this won’t make it right.
10. Don’t be afraid to get emoji-nal.
A creative string of emoji can be a cute and cheeky way of flirting via text—it’s the sextual equivalent of a quickie. Also, accidentally sending flower + eggplant + water drops to the wrong person is easier to recover from. Maybe you were just reminding your roommate to water the garden ;)