Sexting is one of those things that would have sounded completely ridiculous to us six years ago. “Yeah, it’s like, phone sex…but you just write what you’d be doing to each other in a series of short, poorly punctuated messages.”

Yes, it would definitely be hard to explain to our ancestors, but it seems like sexting is here to stay, and with good reason: it’s an incredibly efficient and sexy form of foreplay, and a great way for couples to try out new concepts and keep things interesting.

In truth, sexting isn’t all that different from sex. Ok, yeah, the 2-D isn’t quite as satisfying as being in the flesh. Aside from that, a lot of the same rules apply: do it with someone you’re comfortable with, start slowly, respect boundaries, and pay attention to cues from the other person. And the big one: enjoy it! Yeah, it’s completely silly, but so are most sexual acts, when you take a moment to think about them objectively. Sexting is a great way to playfully relieve sexual tension, and to build it up. Our ancestors don’t know what they’re missing!

Who Should You Sext With?

The obvious answer here is “sext with someone you’re dating.” But, it’s 2020, and the casual sext is almost as prevalent as casual sex. If you want to initiate some verbal play with someone with whom you have crazy sexual tension, go ahead, just make sure it’s someone you trust not to forward/copy & paste the whole conversation. And as a more general rule, it’s probably best not to sext people with whom you wouldn’t have sex in real life.

How to Initiate

Have you had sex with this person before? If so, you have an easy in: “I can’t stop thinking about [last time the two of you had sex.]” The obvious rejoinder to this is something along the lines of “Oh yeah?” or “Me, too, especially [___],” and the conversation sort of flows from there.

If you haven’t had sex with this person before, try bringing up sex in general — the topic has a way of going from the broad to the specific, when two people are attracted to each other. If you’re going to see each other at some point soon, you can coyly text them about how excited you are for your date. A more to-the-point, but not explicit thing would be to text them that you’re “Lying in bed, thinking of you…”, or “Reading in bed, wish you were here to help me fall asleep…”

Unless you do so ironically, don’t text “What r u wearing?” unless you want the other person to laugh and roll their eyes.

Start Slowly, Work Your Way Up

Dirty talk does not come naturally to everyone, but this doesn’t mean you can’t still be good at sexting! In fact, you may find you’re able to say things in text that you can’t quite get yourself to say in person — and your partner will definitely think this is hot. Start slowly (the metaphor is your friend!), and then work yourself up to whatever language/level of description you feel comfortable with.

Just Like in Real Sex, There are Boundaries

Sexting is a great way for new couples to feel out sexual chemistry, and for long-term couples to explore new ideas in a safe manner. That having been said, a sext is not the time to introduce a potentially controversial fetish or topic, without having first broached the subject, however lightly, in person.

Pay Attention to Tone

Just like in real sex, you want to sort of match what the other person is doing, and match their tone/pace/wording as much as possible. If she says, “I’m sucking on this popsicle and thinking of you,” your next response can’t be “I want to f*** you up the ass.” In all forms of writing and all forms of sex, transitions are key!

On Audio/Visual Aids

If you want to sext with someone you don’t know that well, fine, but please, please, please don’t send nude photos unless it’s to someone you really trust. And keep in mind that if you do send photos, they will have them forever — and you can’t just rip these up. I know a guy who has a computer folder with nude pictures of almost every girl he’s dated.

Delete Delete Delete

The risk you take when you sext, regardless of who your partner is, is that Gchats and emails and texts can be copied and pasted and forwarded to a third party — or merely casually scene by someone who happens to look at your phone/computer. Erase when you’re done!

It’s Only Hot if You Actually Enjoy It

The important thing is to be playful and actually enjoy yourself: if you’re having fun, that will translate through the texts. If you’re following a script or only doing it because you feel like you should, it’s not going to be much fun for either of you.