A middle-aged woman I know recently confessed that she's been doing quite a bit of provocative, R-rated texting with a man she's involved with. It turns out grownups in committed relationships are, increasingly, doing it for pleasure and "fun," as one survey found.When I referred to it as "sexting" she was shocked. Also, according to researchers, the whole concept of "sexting" has evolved, or at least is evolving: from a risky, sordid and sometimes-dangerous activity among teens, to, as one therapist (more below) says, a way to add some sexual "simmering" to a relationship that may need spicing up.She said she and her colleagues wanted to reevaluate sexting in a new light -- as a potential positive force in a relationship and a way to potentially enhance open sexual communication."There seems to be a missing discourse about pleasure," Stasko said.More than half of the responses came from women; the average age of participants was 35, according to the study authors.On one level, it's not surprising that sexting is becoming more mainstream."If we look at how technology has been integrated into our society — it's so much part of our daily lives — it makes sense that it would become part of our dating and sexual lives as well," said Emily Stasko, MPH, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia and the survey's co-author, along with Pamela Geller, Ph D, associate professor of psychology, ob/gyn and public health at Drexel. The survey found that people who sexted more rated it as more "carefree and fun" and had higher beliefs that sexting was expected in their relationships.(Sexting, for the purposes of the survey, was defined broadly as sending or receiving sexually suggestive or explicit content via text message, mainly using a mobile device, Stasko said.)Of course, this doesn't mean that every grownup out there is under the covers with their phone at night shooting off racy texts.Sexting can really be fun, but context — and trust — is everything.
But part of my role is to be what I have called my patients “disinhabition coach.”My patients Sandra and Bill (not their real names) are a classic example. His message to her growing up was that girls who were interested in boys were “sluts.”It is critically important to her that she be emotionally attuned to her children, that they have a better experience growing up than she did.If you sext to someone who is not committed to you, you are risking your privacy and making yourself vulnerable.In a casual relationship, that person can stop seeing you and forward the text to miscellaneous strangers.These survey findings are preliminary, and come with big caveats, Stasko says.The findings may not be representative: Participants were recruited online and responded to a posting asking them to take a survey about sexting, so the sample could be skewed toward more seasoned sexters.