Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Dirty-Talking Truth

A friend of mine recently sent her boyfriend a sext. A sext is a sexually oriented text. It can consist of either words or pictures (in this specific instance, it was a dirty talking sext), and it's probably more popular than actual phone sex these days. After all, we live in a society that's all about convenience, and you can't very well have phone sex while out to dinner with your parents.

So she sent the sext. And she got absolutely no response.

Now, I'm a huge fan of sexting. Not that I've sexted a lot of people. Okay, I guess “huge fan” is a bit of an overstatement. It's not how I wish everyone on my list a Merry Christmas. But in certain situations, nothing beats sending your boyfriend a picture of your tits. Those first few sexts with whomever it is you happen to be sexting at the moment can be emotionally precarious, though. Sure, he totally digs it when you say, “I love it when you fuck me so hard!” in bed, but perhaps a random picture of your vagina is over the line. Or maybe a text message saying, “I'd really love it if you fucked me in the ass later,” will make him think you're a freak—even if he'd absolutely love to fuck you in the ass later. When a girl sends a sext, she'll feel more than a little exposed, vulnerable.

She frantically sent me an instant message (kids these days—doesn't anybody talk on the phone anymore?) telling me how upset she was that he hadn't sent back even a one-word response to her dirty-talking sext. I'd once received a, “Wow,” in response to a picture of my nude torso, and I'd found that to be a rather vague response. I'd figured my boyfriend was just in a hurry. At least he'd made the effort and let me know he'd gotten my sext. Her boyfriend didn't send even a single syllable. We began discussing sexting etiquette, and we both agreed that no response whatsoever was an obvious faux pas. In fact, I was so taken aback by his silence that I thought about sending him an e-mail asking if he was an idiot. She began throwing around phrases like “emotionally unavailable,” and it was all downhill from there. By the end of that instant messaging session you'd have thought the guy had shot her puppy.

Personal preferences being what they are, I'm sure there are millions of ways one could mess up in a sexting situation. Most of them would not be obvious. I once dated someone who was inexplicably and overwhelmingly grossed out by the word “moist.” You can imagine the problems this could cause in a sexting situation if I were unaware of the aversion. But if there's one thing that should be obvious, it's that you should always respond to someone's sext (unless, of course, you have absolutely no interest in that person or you've filed a restraining order). When someone sends you a picture of their boobs, ass, cock, or pussy, or if they tell you they're thinking about your boobs/ass while playing with their cock/pussy, the least you can do is say, “Awesome,” or, “Me, too,” or, “I think you've got the wrong person, but I appreciated it anyway.” The reason this should be so obvious is the same reason the dreaded “emotionally unavailable” was mentioned.

Much like it is with sex itself, sexting is never really only about sexting. When someone gets naked in front of someone else, whether physically, emotionally or virtually, it's personal. It's meant to be an intimate moment, even if that intimate moment is a fleeting one shared between two people on Adult Friend Finder. If I show someone my boobs, on some level it's as if I just decided to tell them a story I don't tell anyone else. Or at the very least a story I don't tell everyone else. And by that token it's even more important that I be seen and heard. It's even more important that I be acknowledged. Intimacy requires the involvement of more than one person. If I ask someone the time and they ignore me, I'm not going to care nearly as much as I will if I send someone a sext saying, “Remember that time you sat on my chest and I titty fucked you while licking the tip of your cock? That was so hot!” and he never says a word.

When someone with whom I'm having a relationship exposes himself to me, I feel a responsibility to make sure that he knows he's been seen and heard. If he sends me a sext, I'm going to at least say, “That was so nice of you to think of me.” If he tells me some really embarrassing story about his childhood, I'm going to refrain from making fun of him (even if the really embarrassing event totally deserves to be made fun of.) Actually, that last statement was a lie, although I will definitely not make fun if retelling the story still makes him cry. The reason my friend tagged her boyfriend as “emotionally unavailable” when he didn't respond to her sext is because he'd obviously not thought about the fact that she was so exposed. Either he hadn't thought about it or he had actively wanted to avoid getting involved in the intimate act on any level, even if that involvement had required a response reading, “I appreciate the thought, but this was a little too much for me.” Sharing an intimate moment with another person isn't about the type of response you have to whatever it is that he or she has done; it's about being willing to have a response and to share that response, whatever it may be, in a way that is respectful and supportive of his or her (I can't believe I'm about to use this word in this context) personhood.

Some of the most intimate moments I've ever had with another human being have involved me telling that human being, “I didn't so much like it when you did that,” in a calm tone of voice.

So, for god's sake, respond to your significant other's sexts. And if that significant other happens to be your girlfriend, and she sends you a picture of her tits, just know that the right response is something along the lines of, “Jesus, baby, those are the most amazing tits I've ever seen! I'll never be able to look at another woman ever again! They're inspiring a religious experience! You're amazing!”

Or I've found a nice, “Wow,” can be quite effective in a pinch.


  1. I think that you and this girl are attaching more emotional weight to a text than you have the right to. The "emotionally unavailable" tag is hard to get out from under, and potentially fatal to a new relationship. I think you need to save that tag for face to face interactions.

    You made a parallel between sexting and the telling of a personal story. If I were to sit down next to my girlfriend to tell her a personal story and get no response whatsoever, I'd be rightfully upset. If I were to tell the same story while she was in the next room, would I have the right to get upset? Maybe, but maybe not. WHat if she was distracted and wasn't paying attention? What if she never heard me at all? For all I know, she was about to respond, but the doorbell rang and by the time she answered the door my story had completely slipped her mind. I wouldn't tell a personal story if I couldn't be sure that my girlfriend was in a position to respond. It's fine to attach emotional risk to a personal story, but not if you use a risky delivery mechanism.

    Maybe this guy is emotionally unavailable. Maybe he never got the text. Maybe he got it during an important meeting and by the time he got out of it, he had totally forgotten about the text. If you send a message without knowing the context in which it is recieved, you really shouldn't attach much emotional worth to it. You should also limit the severity of how bad your feelings will get hurt. In the worst case of this scenario, I could see labeling the guy as rude, insensitive, or forgetful. I would save "emotionally unavailable" for face to face responses.

    Having said all that, I ALWAYS respond to sexts. If you don't respond, you don't get any more of them, and that would be terrible.

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  2. I had a problem with my boyfriend with this issue. He would get the sexts and sometimes not know how to respond, because they either caught him off guard, or he felt like he needed to reciprocate on the same level, that "wow" just wasn't enough. So, he'd spend time thinking of something so say, or he'd just blow it off, and my sext would never get answered. I finally told him, "listen, I am not going to send you any more sexy texts if you are going to completely ignore them" ... and, of course, he stopped ignoring them. In this situation, your friend needs to be clear about what she wants from him. I agree with Ian that labeling him emotionally unavailable is probably a leap. Text messaging is such a tricky means of communication. It's degree of reliability, as well as the user's level of ability to use it socially, really need to be taken into consideration.


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