Sexts hold the power to take me from zero to hero in a split second (read: aroused hero). Yet even as someone who’s been in the sexting game since the days of Motorola RAZR phones, sometimes I still feel like my messages are less so akin to a bona fide erotica author than they are an immature kid giggling at dirty words. So naturally, when Brianna Rader, founder and CEO of sex and relationship coaching app Juicebox, introduced me to to her app—explaining that the platform’s sexperts offer coaching on nitty-gritty—I was intrigued. Could I learn to sext like true arteest? Rader suggested I try. So through the app, I connected with intimacy coach Stella Harris, author of Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships, who gave me some blush-worthy actionable tips in the art of sexting. Check out five things I learned below. (Spoiler: I now feel like I unlocked the power to turn on some nonexistent filthy filter whenever I pick up my phone and sexy inspiration strikes.)
5 tips to sext like an erotica author
1. Give the recipient a heads-up before sending a sext
Let’s clear up any confusion: You need to ask for consent before sending a sext or a nude photo. Sending a non-consensual sext is a form of sexual harassment, and since consent is an ongoing thing, says Harris, check with the other person before initiating any kind of NSFW exchange—regardless of whether you’ve sexted in the past.
Her suggestion? Have a conversation early on in your relationship and pose questions like “Do you like getting sent pictures?” “How do you feel about getting sexy texts while at work?” “Do the texts or photos I send pop up on your computer? Could that ever cause an issue for you at work?”
Furthermore, gaining consent can be a flirty, mood-setting process as well. “You might also say something like ‘I just took pictures in my new lingerie, would you like to see them?’ because that’s both a tease and a flirt, but it’s also a good time to check in, because the answer can be that it’s not a good time,” Harris says. Besides, even if it’s not a good time, think about all that anticipation building…. Can you say H-O-T?
After meeting with Harris, my sexting mate and I established a no-dirty-photos guideline to be in place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, because she has an Apple Watch and wouldn’t want my nudes dirty sweet nothings to pop up on her wrist in the middle of a meeting. (I mean, fair, right?)
2. Ask your partner what words they like to use for their body parts
If you don’t know, just ask, says Harris. “What are the words you like for your genitals?” “Do you like the word cock? Or is there another word that resonates better with you?” or “What are your favorite and least favorite body part words?”
Likewise, think about the words you like for your own body and communicate those to your sexting partner. Using language that feels natural and welcome can make all the difference between a sentence reading cringeworthy and swoonworthy. So, get on the same page about the specifics.
3. Check in before detailing a new activity
Think of this as consent 2.0—Harris says it’s best practice to not only get permission to engage in sexting but also to make sure you’re on the same page about tone and themes. “I recommend checking in about whether someone finds an activity hot before introducing it with a typed-out scene. You don’t know if they’ve had a bad experience with that activity in the past, so not asking first could take them out of the moment.”
“I recommend checking in about whether someone finds an activity hot before introducing it with a typed-out scene. You don’t know if they’ve had a bad experience with that activity in the past, so not asking first could take them out of the moment.” —Stella Harris, sex educator
Neutral questions are best here because it gives your partner the freedom to tell you if they’re not into something, says Harris. Think: “Do you think the idea of strap on sex is sexy?” “Is ass play something you’ve ever wanted or considered?” “Do you like using a vibrator on yourself? Or with a partner?”
Another idea: Make a “yes, no, maybe” list together. “It’s a great way to establish things you’d like to explore through sexting and fantasy talk,” says Harris.
4. Explore things you might want to try IRL
Sexting is a great way to explore fantasies and different sex acts. “The anonymity of the screen can make us feel more comfortable playing out and talking about possible or future sex acts than we would in person,” says Harris.
For instance, maybe you fantasize about anal sex, but you’re nervous about trying it for real—feel free to make that distinction clear, so there’s no confusion about what’s okay digitally but not necessarily elsewhere. You might say, “I’m really excited about trying X with you, and I love sexting about it. I’m also a little shy about how it’ll go in person.”
Harris says you can even have a steamy conversation about something you and your partner have zero intention of trying in person—so long as you’re clearly communicating so much. For instance, maybe you love the visual that talking about handcuffs creates via text, but you actually find them uncomfortable in practice.
5. Double-check your recipient before pressing “send”
Harris didn’t specifically tell me to do this. But it’s good advice—trust me.
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