Good sexting etiquette: keeping things safe and steamy
Sexting is fun, just make sure you’re doing it right
Our grandparents were no strangers to sexting. What were love letters, if not intimate correspondence? The game has just evolved — from waiting weeks to have tear-stained handwritten notes delivered to your lover, you now have a baingan emoji sliding into your DMs in the middle of the day.
When dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and more penetrated the Indian market, they gave over 20.87 million paid users and 18.72 million free users (as of February 2019) a chance to let their freak flags high with suggestive phone calls, live videos, text messages and photographs.
So it’s no wonder that this Black Mirror episode we’re living in right now brings reports of an increase in sexting.
There’s no greater escape from quarantine life than saucy escapades from the comfort of our bedrooms.
We’re digitally meeting new people and exploring new sexual experiences, but with any new technology come privacy concerns.
Kind of like the pages of Terms & Conditions that says our information is stored and possibly shared, which we scroll past and accept without a thought.
Stories of explicit photos being leaked or intimate conversations being used as blackmail abound. The safety net of sexting from behind a screen can magnify and bring out the best and worst in us.
While tech companies are still working out the kinks, it falls to us to protect ourselves while also enjoying the experience.
Sexting can help us connect with partners we’re physically apart from. It allows us to be intimate with people we’re not ready to meet as yet, and get in touch with our sexuality.
So we’re making our own Terms of Service for sexting. Maintaining sexting etiquette, consent and enjoyment for everyone involved.
A guide to safely enjoy sexting
Saving yourself from screenshots and violation of privacy
So you’ve taken the plunge and started sexting. Everything’s great, hot and steamy until you find out that your private messages with someone have been saved as screenshots and shared widely. This is a violation of consent and trust.
Our gender norms will put the onus on women. You’ll hear your mother’s voice saying, “Don’t share anything you don’t want the world to see.”
It goes without saying that if you’re consensually sexting with someone, and they share that, they’re the ones at fault.
Privacy is not just personal anymore but interpersonal. We’re meant to protect each other’s, but we also never know how relationships can sour or a person’s intentions can change.
Of course, no one’s going to ask for your permission before sharing messages you send them, so what can you do?
One way around it is to limit your sexting to encrypted and safe messaging platforms.
There are apps like Telegram that have a ‘self-destruct’ option, allowing you to put a timer on how long your message is visible. If you prefer sending photographs, then Dust and Confide are relatively safer to try.
Dust works like Snapchat, according to their website, where your messages and pictures disappear. It’s an encrypted app that deletes your history within 24 hours. They also alert users if a screenshot has been taken.
If screenshots are your fear, you have the option to even hide your name and message using an alias for some plausible deniability.
Confide goes a step further, creating the kind of tech we want for 2020 sexting. If someone takes a screenshot on that app, not only does it alert you about it, they also remove that person from the app and the screenshot they take will be nothing but a blank page (they say this works against Quicktime recorder and Apple screen record too).
Finding the catfish on dating apps
With a plethora of apps to choose from, you can cast a wide net. The ability to carefully curate your dating profile – photographs, bio, your persona et al – can leave room for catfishing.
An online catfish is a person who pretends to be someone they’re not. How they’re presenting themselves to lure others could be a total facade or be an imaginative recreation of who they really want to be, leaving out facts and real-life details that end up being really important.
Is your Tinder match really a 30-year-old single chef living three lanes away? Maybe it’s a fake profile being used by a married man living in a different city.
These are things you’re need to know before you get intimate with them. Save yourself from a sticky situation by doing a background check on the person.
At the very least, a quick scan on Facebook and Instagram will give you a general sense of whether they’re telling the truth about who they are. We all embellish a little online, but there’s a Lakshman Rekha we shouldn’t ethically cross.
Nobody wants leaks — from the tap or of your nudes
A sexy photograph or video can really set the mood for some more fun later in the day. But the fear that they can end up on public forums and, in some cases, porn sites, is real too.
You can be a smart sexter with more thoughtful framing of the pictures you send. The obvious would be to not show your face.
You can cover or remove identifiable jewellery and body markers (moles, birthmarks and tattoos), objects and items from the background, like photographs of friends and family.
Researchers studying adolescent sexuality and sexting put together some pointers for parents to share with their teens, one of them being boudoir pictures.
“Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble,” said the researchers.
Messages can be manipulated, try going old-school
Our social media apps are constantly being updated. Some changes are irritating, like having to adapt to new Facebook feed formats, while others are more welcoming, like the ability to delete messages once they’ve been sent.
It’s a lifesaver that can save you from an embarrassing typo in a message to your parents and coworkers.
Some platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger make a note of the message removal with a “this message has been deleted”.
On Instagram and Skype, the message vanishes without a trace.
You may want to give that a thought the next time you slide into someone’s DMs. A consensual flirty exchange could be altered, taken out of context and shared.
It’s not difficult to make a conversation where nudes are welcomed, shared and exchanged to seem like harassment of a third-party when one person deletes their indication of consent from the conversation.
If all the ‘what if’s are giving you anxiety, why not try going old-school with a phone call?
We know, we know, the only phone calls nowadays are to ask the deliveryman if the package has been dropped off at the gate. But hear us out, phone sex is a thrill of its own.
“You don’t have to be physically together in order to be romantically or sexually together. Phone sex unites couples in times when they’re apart,” said sex therapist Susan Block.
Jess O’Reilly, sexologist and relationship expert explains that audio-only sex has its sexy charm. It “leaves more to the imagination, and many people are primarily aroused by sounds — from of a lover’s voice to the sound of movement and rustling in the sheets.”