Whether you’re just starting to share your fantasies virtually or are experienced at letting your iMessage freak flag fly, here's your ultimate guide.

By Maressa Brown
Feb 22, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
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Credit: Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

A year into the pandemic, it would be no surprise that if, in addition to being a pro at bingeing the latest show to drop on Netflix and meeting with your therapist via FaceTime, your sexting game is on fire. After all, it's a safe, socially distanced way to connect with someone sexually. 

"Even even in the 'before times,' sexting has always been a great way to test the waters with someone new," says Alexandra Fine, CEO and co-founder of Dame Products. "Telling someone what feels comfy, safe, and fun to you can be way easier to do over text than in person, especially if you don't know each other that well. There is some anonymity to texting conversations that can allow us to be our bravest selves."

Fine points out that sexting also offers ample room to explore your desires. "Since you're writing everything out, texting gives everyone a moment to collect their thoughts and to really think about what they're saying," she points out. "This also makes it a great way to explore your fantasies. Think you might be into bondage play, but feel a little shy about actually getting out the handcuffs? [Use] emojis and creative words to try it out." 

And as if that wasn't enough reason to let your thumbs lead the way to a pleasurable time, consider the fact that sexting is also less energy-intensive than in-person sex, can build up sexual tension in a relationship, and allows you to tap into other love languages than in-person sex, such as words of affirmation, points out Casey Tanner, certified sex therapist and expert for LELO.

Whether you're looking for new techniques to up your sexting game, or aren't sure how to start sexting in the first place, here's your ultimate playbook, according to experts.

How to Start Sexting

Say you've matched with someone, had a FaceTime date that went well, you're fairly certain that you have steamy chemistry, and your flirting is becoming incrementally more risque. If you're considering getting more intimate over text, you'll want to gauge one another's boundaries, advises Fine. 

Consider the following techniques to get the ball rolling. 

First, determine your level of trust. Before diving in, be sure you've given some thought to how well you know and can trust your sexting partner. "Consider engaging in sexting only in the context of trusting relationships — or using an app like Snapchat that deletes content after a set amount of time has passed," advises Tanner.

Ask your partner if sexting interests them. There's no better place to start than by being plain, simple, and direct, according to Shelby Sells, a sex, love, and life coach and resident sexpert at WOO More Play. "If you're both interested in moving forward, you can come up with some ground rules to create a safe sexting space to ensure you both feel comfortable," she says.  

Take sexual inventory. Fine recommends starting by making a "yes"/"no"/"maybe" sexual inventory list together. These lists — like this one from Scarleteen, which she recommends as it includes a whole non-physical section — ask questions like, "How do you feel about viewing porn with your partner?" or "How do you feel about receiving sexual images of your partner on your phone or email?" This way, you can cover your IRL fantasies as well as what virtual sex avenues may feel good — or not — to each of you, says Fine. 

Voice any concerns. If you have any particular worries or want to point out topics you'd prefer to avoid, you can call those out at this stage as well. "It's definitely not a bad idea to air out any concerns you may have in the open before getting your iMessage freak on," says Fine. "Anyone who isn't willing to chat through your safety concerns doesn't deserve to read you wax poetic on all things erotic anyway."

The Best Sexting Techniques to Try

Whether you're just getting started sexting with a new partner or a veteran sexter who has been with their S.O. for years, you might want to try these expert-approved strategies — listed from beginner to more advanced.  

Play "Never Have I Ever" or "20 Questions." While you might think of these games as fodder for junior high parties and road trips, they can actually prompt fun and flirty stories, says Fine. 

Set up a sexy movie date. Before diving into watching something X-rated together, you can fire up Netflix and try something like Elite or the famous train sex scene in Risky Business. "Similar to your virtual wine and cheese night, set up a virtual movie night with Netflix Party and pick a film [or show] with a steamy scene," advises Fine. "Referencing what you found hot about what happened in the movie is another gentle way to introduce sex into the conversation." 

Share a favorite erotic story. If you're not prepared to share your own words, you can try someone else's, advises Fine. "This still gives you the chance to explore intimacy with someone and share your desires," she says. "This may also help quell some fears of rejection — if someone isn't into what you shared, it's just a story — not you." 

Ask questions. A combination of vulnerability and curiosity can open up the lines of hot communication."When we're asking a partner to be vulnerable with us in this way, it's helpful to model that vulnerability first," says Tanner. This can look like telling your partner what you want to do to them, which makes it clear that you're willing to meet them halfway in the conversation.

Or you can offer a sexy confession, then transition into a question — which can also double as a way to confirm consent. Tanner recommends something like: 

  • For a new partner: “There are so many things I look forward to exploring sexually with you. Would it be cool if I shared some of my ideas?
  • For someone with whom you’ve already been together IRL: “I can’t stop thinking about the last time we had sex. _____ was my favorite part. What was yours?”
  • For either: “Thinking about you has been turning me on. Would it be OK if I shared some of what I’ve been thinking about?”

In general, you'll want to start by owning where your head is — and then, ask a question that allows the other person to opt-in or out of a more sexual conversation, notes Tanner. Consider questions that you also would be comfortable answering.

And you'll always want to ask permission before sending any media, says Sells. Try something like, "I want you to see how hot you make me. Would you be interested in FaceTiming?" or "That sounds so sexy — can you show me?". Trust your intuition, and check in to make sure you both feel comfortable engaging in these spaces, she says.

Describe what you plan to do with your partner the next time you're together. "Choose an upcoming date or event, and use that to set the scene for a future sexual encounter," recommends Tanner. "Use language like, 'I want you to imagine the next time we're together, when we're doing XYZ at your place.'"

Playfully tease your partner. No matter how novice or advanced you are with sexting, it can be a fantastic opportunity to experiment with what Tanner calls "playful withholding." Basically, you're virtually teasing your partner, reminding them of what they can't have because you're physically apart, she notes. "For example, send a photo that shows a little skin, but not total nudity," says Tanner. You can then tell your partner what you're doing to yourself, and let their imagination run wild. 

Be directive. Telling your partner what you want them to do to themselves can be an empowering way to connect sexually over text. "Try encouraging your partner to masturbate while thinking about something specific, or take consensual control of how and when they make themselves orgasm," says Tanner.

Role play. When implementing this technique, each partner takes on a persona that creates a new and sensual dynamic in the relationship, says Tanner. She recommends using made-up names or taking on characters from a show or movie you've watched together.

How to Get the Most out of a Sexting Session

No matter what technique you're using, you'll want to bear the following "best practices" in mind to get the most out of the interaction. 

Be yourself. "There can be a lot of pressure when sexting to 'sound like' someone that you aren't," says Sells. "Use your authentic voice by saying what comes naturally to you." 

Ensure it's the right time and place. Although sexting can take place just about anywhere, at any time, you'll want to make sure you both have the time to devote to sexting and are in the right space (e.g. not at work or with family), says Sells. 

Go slow. "Just like in real-life sex, taking things slow ensures both people warm up and maximizes their pleasure," says Sells. "A slow burn makes the sexting session unforgettable." 

Familiarize yourself with the language your partner uses to talk about their own body — and share what you like too.  Because words matter so much during a sexting session and we often have positive and negative associations with different terms, it pays to key into this, says Tanner. "For example, do they prefer 'chest' or 'breasts'? Do they get more turned on by 'penis' or 'cock'?" she notes. You'll also want to think about the language you prefer and share that either directly or in context (e.g. "I love when you tell me how you would kiss my breasts"). 

Ask permission to incorporate photos or videos that were taken in the past. If you have one another's consent to send media, remember that photos have timestamps, and you risk evoking a negative reaction when sending a photo that was clearly not taken for your current partner, points out Tanner.

When in doubt, rely on past experiences. It's perfectly normal to find yourself virtually tongue-tied in the moment. "It's natural to run into performance anxiety and fear of judgment as you venture into the new territory of sexting," says Tanner. That's when you can lean on a memory of something you've enjoyed in the past. "If you're drawing a blank of what to say, draw from your past experiences that have derived the most pleasure," notes Sells.

Tune into reciprocity. If you've initiated a sexting session and your partner isn't meeting you halfway, you might want to take that as a signal to check in and see where your partner's head is, says Tanner. She recommends making it clear that there's no pressure if the other person isn't feeling it.