Can writing risqué messages on your mobile phone give health to a couple’s sexual life or, on the contrary, harm it?
Sexting shows that instant communication through new technologies is gaining more and more ground in all areas of life, including that of the couple. Silvia Cintrano de la Torre, a member of Saluspot and a health psychologist specializing in sexology at Instituto Centta, clarifies in this interview whether writing risqué messages on mobile phones can give health to a couple’s sexual life or, on the contrary, harm it.
Do new technologies benefit or harm relationships?
Any tool at our disposal, if misused, can cause complications in our lives and, therefore, in our partner. Technology is an approach to other people, but sometimes it can be abusive and extreme. For example, knowing that our partner has read a message notifying them about something important is not the same as having to check if they have connected or not and, if so, who they have been talking to if not with us. The problem appears because it favors being permanently connected, which generates poor communication due to the lack of verbal codes. It also encourages immediacy, forgetting to reflect and becoming much more impulsive, making conflict resolution more complicated.
What is sexting and why is it attractive to practice it?
Sexting refers to the sending of images with sexual content through mobile messages. The attraction that this practice has over others is that there is a real interaction between the two. It is usually done in couples or people who have a previous relationship (friendship or temporary relationship), which adds morbidity to the relationship. When it is done with strangers, it is usually done in search of some possible live interaction.
How does sexting benefit sexual health and life as a couple?
Any novel tool or practice in the couple, as long as it is done from freedom, is beneficial since it adds complicity, intimacy and spontaneity. This will help the couple feel closer. In addition, it helps to experience sexuality in a more natural way, without shame or guilt.
Is the couple who practice sexting at risk?
The problem appears when a person uses these tools out of obligation because the partner pressures them to do so without the person being convinced. As long as a person does not act from freedom, carrying out these practices will generate negative feelings towards the experience of her sexuality and may trigger rejection of sex. In addition, one of the biggest dangers is the loss of privacy and anonymity: you cannot control what use the other person will make of the images or with whom they will share them, so you are totally exposed. The important thing in this practice is to investigate the function it fulfills within the couple: if it is for attraction and fun, there is no problem. Very different from if it is done to do what one would not dare to do in person, or to get or keep the attention of another.
Another recent trend is the sexselfie or selfie after sex, what is its attraction?
The sexselfie refers to taking a selfie as a couple with the intention of sharing it on the internet. The reason for doing so is to be able to stay connected with everyone around us, sharing even the most intimate moments. However, it would be necessary to think about what function it has for each specific case, that is, if it is to cover some type of need that is not possible by other means.
The sexselfie exposes the intimacy of the couple to the public. What is the value of your own privacy and that of your partner?
Intimacy is a fundamental piece in any relationship that must remain within it. However, with this practice, third parties are allowed to enter into something purely for two. What happens to need to share something so intimate? You will have to study what that specific couple expects by sharing it and if a void is being filled through social networks that cannot be solved by other means.
Does sharing the sexual act on social networks indicate problems or health in the couple?
It is not possible to generalize and ensure that the couples who practice it have relationship problems or not. It is not the same to naturalize sexual relations in a certain context (for example, talking with a group of friends) than to share such intimate moments immediately. With the immediacy we forget about respect for privacy and it will be necessary to explore what sense it makes for the couple to do this. However, not all pairings work the same and it can be part of the fun, with no hidden features. It all depends on what was previously agreed and that both agree to set clear limits around their privacy.
How to act if these practices are taken to addictive or obsessive extremes?
This practice is not a symptom of pathology by itself if it is used properly. However, in certain people it can hide problems that would not be seen otherwise, such as an addiction, an obsession, etc. The answer is simple: a person who performs these practices should only go to therapy when it causes discomfort. In such a case, it will be necessary to inquire into the reason for resorting to this escape route. The treatment will depend on the cause and ranges from impulse control therapy (in case of addiction) to working on self-esteem or relaxation techniques, for example.