What Is Sexting?

man smiling while looking at cell phone
Hero Images/Getty Images

Most people remember the scandal involving Anthony Weiner, a former U.S. Congressman from New York City who sent explicit images of his anatomy through text messages. The scandal, referred to often in the media as Weinergate, led Weiner to resign in 2011. However, the destruction wrought by Weiner's actions is no joke. Many pundits and experts explained Weiner's actions by labeling him a sex addict, and they may not be wrong.

 

What Is Sexting?

Sexting, or the act of sending sexually explicit material through text messages, often via mobile phones can be an addiction that destroys lives in much the same way other addictions do. Sexting can include sexually explicit text messages, or they can include sexually explicit photographs, images or videos.

Sexting Trouble Areas

Sexting is typically carried out deliberately, with people sending sexts about themselves. But sometimes, sext messages that contain sexually explicit material about someone else can be sent, in some cases when the subject of the sexts has not given consent. Sexts can also be sent to someone who does not wish to receive sexually explicit material.

Because sexting is a recent phenomemon, it has not yet been adequately researched, and proper limits to sexting have not yet been worked out. However, many people have found themselves in trouble over sexually explicit sexts.

One of worst case scenarios is when teenagers sext sexually explicit pictures of themselves and are subsequently accused of distribution of child pornography.

Sex Addiction and Sexting

Sexting can be a symptom or manifestation of sexual addiction, which is an illness like other addictions, and causes destructive consequences.

 For some, sexting is the primary behavior involved in sexual addiction. For others, an all-consuming interest in pornography, sexual encounters with sex workers, pathological infidelity, or cybersex relationships can be the main focus of the addiction. 

Sexual addiction is related to obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions, and the inability to control behavior, even when the addiction is destroying family relationships, self esteem, a career, and even finances. Similar to other addictions, sexual addiction is progressive in nature. This means that the person who suffers from sexual addiction will spend more and more time and energy engaging in the specific behaviors related to their addiction. In addition, sex addicts often seek more intense experiences as the addiction progresses in order to achieve the same "high" they once got from more benign activities. 

Who Is at Risk for Sexting Addiction?

With mobile devices making sexting constantly available, sexting addiction has become more widespread.

In fact, some estimates suggest that online porn addiction and sexting comprise the most common subtype of internet addiction.

However, certain people are more likely than others to develop a problem with sexting. These include people who suffer from low self-esteem, a distorted body image, untreated sexual dysfunction, or another type of sexual addiction. 

Treating Sexting and Sex Addiction

Treating a sexting addiction often requires support from professionals, and can be particularly complicated because refraining from the use of a mobile phone is not practical in today's environment. With that temptation always in hand, sext addicts must vigilant about relapsing. Because sexting and pornography addiction are becoming more and more common, many new inpatient and outpatient centers focusing on treating these disorders have become available in all parts of the world. In addition, a self-help support group program such as Sex Addicts Anonymous can be helpful in achieving and maintaining recovery. 

Continue Reading