It turns out sending steamy iMessages back and forth can aid the sexual satisfaction of your relationship. This according to a recent study that analyzed the sexting behaviors of adults. Good news, too, because just about everyone does it.
There is plenty of information out there that focuses on why you shouldn't send your significant other racy messages—recipients could share your photo with friends or post it online, or you could accidentally post your private photo to a public social network. Instead of focusing on the dangers of sexting, researchers Emily Stasko and Pamela Geller of Drexel University's Department of Psychology wanted to better understand how sending and receiving sexy messages could impact our romantic relationships. Sexting is common among U.S. adults, and although the practice is often portrayed as risky or just bad behavior, it may have benefits for couples, a new study suggests.
"These findings indicate a robust relationship between sexting and sexual satisfaction," researchers wrote.
The team surveyed 870 heterosexual U.S. adults ages 18-82 through Amazon's Mechanical Turk, about sexting methods, motives, and desires, and how those sexy photos or text messages affected their relationship and sexual satisfaction. 74 percent of respondents were in a relationship, and a majority of the people surveyed—58 percent were female.
Researchers found that 88 percent of people sexted at some point in their lifetime and a full 82 percent sexted within the last year. Almost 74 percent of people sexted in committed relationships, while casual relationships accounted for 43 percent of the dirty texts. A relatively small 12 percent sexted while cheating.
What's more, sexting appeared to have some benefits: People who sexted more had higher levels of sexual satisfaction, the study found.
Most earlier studies on sexting have focused on the risks of the practice, but "if sexting were only dangerous, it wouldn't be as popular," said study researcher Emily Stasko, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "We set out to look at a behavior that can be either good or bad."
However, results showed that single people who sexted did not necessarily experience the same impact on sexual satisfaction that those in relationships did. Additionally, the study found that sexual satisfaction is correlated with whether or not a person wants to be sexted. If they're looking forward to receiving raunchy messages, it helps.
Researchers said more studies are needed to pursue the relationship between satisfaction and sexting, but that this study is helping to reframe how we think about sexting. Though it would be important to see how sexting impacted individuals and relationships that didn't identify as heterosexual.
The point researchers want to make is that sexting isn't all bad—sexting should be thought of "within a sexual health framework," where people think about and consider not only the risks associated with hitting "send" on a naked selfie, but also the rewards and satisfaction associated with receiving that sexy message.