To Sext or Not to Sext?

To sext or not to sext? The consequences of your sext can last a long time. Image © Sanja Gjenero / RGB Stock

Question: To Sext or Not to Sext?

My boyfriend has asked me to text him a sexy nude picture of myself, so he can look at it anytime he wants. A bunch of friends have started sexting messages and pictures of themselves to their boyfriends and girlfriends, or to people they like, so it seems like no big deal. But I saw the 90210 episode, "To Sext or Not to Sext," and I wondered, can you really get in trouble for sexting?


As with other types of cybersex, sexting can seem private and safe. You think it is private, because you are sexting one person, and it seems safe, because you trust that person. But, as the 90210 episode, "To Sext or Not to Sext" showed, sexts can be forwarded to many other receipients, so it is not really private. And although you can seem to make a sext disappear with the touch of the delete button, they can also stick around and haunt you for way longer than you imagined.

Here are some issues to think about, when deciding whether to sext or not to sext:

Your Boyfriend's Motives

It seems that the main reason you are thinking of sexting is because your boyfriend has asked you to. But think about why he feels he needs a naked picture of you, 24 hours a day? Although it is common for teenage and some younger men to be preoccupied with sex, not being able to switch off from thinking about sex may indicate a sex addiction problem.

Is he capable of normal sexual arousal, or does he need the excitement or danger of sexting?

It is also possible that your boyfriend has less than gallant motives for wanting the naked picture of you. He may want to boast to his friends, or use the picture to blackmail you in the future. He may want to make money from showing the picture, or selling it to someone.

What you thought were for his eyes only may be leered at by many other eyes.

Although it can be hard to imagine, your boyfriend of today may be your enemy of tomorrow. And that naked picture of you, or sexually explicit message may be all he would need to get back at you for the relationship not working out. It may be his screensaver for decades to come, which might not be so much fun if you decide on a long-term relationship with someone else.

Even if your boyfriend is well-intentioned, your sext could accidentally pop up at an embarrassing moment, such as while he is showing his mother some other pictures he took with his phone, while he checks his school timetable and the Principal is walking by, or when he intends to forward a different message to a friend or group of friends.

Peer Pressure

You mention that a bunch of friends have been sexting each other, so it's no big deal. This is a form of peer pressure. Generally, peer pressure is not a good way to make decisions, although it can feel right at the time.

Not only can peer pressure get you to do things you don't really want to do, but it can backfire if these people stop being your friends in the future. They may be embarrassed and unwilling to defend you if you get into trouble over sexting. And if you make new friends, you might find they are shocked or put off by your sexting, or by finding out that you sexted in the past.

Once You Sext, You Lose Control of What You Send

Anything you sext runs the risk of being taken out of context. For example, your naked sext may be part of a happy memory between you and your boyfriend, but if his jealous little brother gets hold of it, it could be circulated with a very different interpretation. And it is a small step from a sext text message to an internet posting.

The more public the forum, the greater the risk that your picture could be displayed to people you don’t intend to be seeing it. Facebook, for example, is a very public forum, with very few real privacy limitations.

You May Be Embarrassed for a Long Time

You may feel proud of your well-toned body, but it is still private. Once it is made public, it is hard to get your privacy back. If you don’t want your parents, your future spouse, or your children to see it, now or anytime in the future, don’t sext it.

If you are ever hoping to become famous in any capacity, you may regret sexting anything that could be used to humiliate you in the future. Even if you are not planning to enter the entertainment industry -- where sexts, sex tapes and online sex videos seem to make, as well as break careers -- a career with any kind of responsiblity, such as teaching, law or healthcare, could be undermined by an explicit sext. And with more and more universities and employers conducting social networking and internet background checks on applicants, you may find it closes doors to the future you want.

Messages and pictures can be modified. If your picture or message is already sexually explicit, it may only take a few tweaks to become much more disgusting.

Laws on Sexting

If you are legally underage, you may be accused of circulating child pornography. And that may be exactly what you are doing. If your sext falls into the wrong hands, it could be used by pedophiles.

Even if you are an adult, your supposedly private sext could be used against you and could harm your reputation and even threaten your career. If it is circulated to people at work, it may constitute sexual harrassment.

Given all the risks, you would be wise to not sext.

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