Sexting – what is it? How do you do it? Why would you want to do it? And…most importantly…how do you ensure it goes well – and how do you keep it from going horribly wrong? Whether you have been with your partner for a long time – or are just getting to know someone – sexting can be a fun way to connect and expand the range of your intimacy with another person. There’s a lot of serious stuff going on in the world right now, so I thought we’d take a moment on the show to dive into something playful. Sexy texting (or messaging) can be a new (or improved) relationship-building skill for you to experiment with.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

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Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. There is a lot going on in our world right now. A lot. And as much as I personally would like to fix everything overnight, that’s not going to happen. And so I’m doing my best, as always, to mix things up because this topic of how to do relationships well, how to find relationships, how to stay in relationships, how to leave relationships, sometimes, let’s be honest, it can be kind of heavy, or if not heavy, at least serious. Today, I want to take a step towards a topic that’s actually quite useful, quite important, and also on the lighter side of things. I want to talk about sexting.

Neil Sattin: I want to talk about sexting in terms of how to sext, how to sext well, what not to do, what to do, why you might want to do it. And we’ll talk about sexting also from the perspective of where you might be on the spectrum of how well you know your partner. So we’ll talk about what it’s like to use sexting as a tool for connection and fostering desire in your main relationship, if you have a primary partnership. And then we’ll contrast that with what it’s like to do that with someone that you’ve never met, or maybe you’ve had some Tinder interaction or online dating interaction. I don’t want to necessarily promote just one thing. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, Plenty Of Fish, whatever the hell it is.

Neil Sattin: Whatever it is, if you’re meeting people there and if you are being responsible about whether or not you are keeping a distance from them, right now we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, then you might consider sexting as a way to boost your intimacy and to have a little fun with someone that you’re meeting. But it’s very different when you sext with someone that you don’t know in person or whom you barely know, especially if you don’t actually have a sexual history with that person. We’re going to get into the ins and outs of sexting, and hopefully have some fun while we do it. Because I think when done right, sexting can be pretty amazing. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say the word sexting, I’m talking about communicating via instant message or texting about sexual things. And not just about sexual things, but actually taking your partner and yourself on a sexual journey, on a fun journey, on a connecting journey, on an intimate journey, it can be intimate, and all over some texting or instant messaging medium.

Neil Sattin: So that is what sexting is, at least the way that I’m defining it right now. And before we dive in, I just want to remind you that Relationship Alive is an offering for you so that you can have the best relationships possible. And I can’t do it alone. In fact, I really can’t do it alone. Over the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be probably putting out a call for some assistance. Because for a long time, this has been pretty much a solo show, although I have had amazing help from my editor, Christy, and some various assistants along the way. It’s time to really have a team who’s helping carry on the mission.

Neil Sattin: Right now, one of the most important people on the team is you being there – listening, putting this stuff into practice, talking to people about Relationship Alive, turning other people on to the show and, if you are able, supporting us through a contribution. You can choose any amount that feels right to you, because every little bit counts. If you’re finding the show to be helpful, just visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word “support” to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. This week, the team members I would like to thank are Joseph, Ruthanna, Holly, Mark, Ruth, Jenny, Marie, Timothy, David, Angie, Sylvia, Drew, Lydia, Ann and Valerie. Thank you all so much for your generous and, in many cases, ongoing support of the Relationship Alive podcast.

Neil Sattin: Oh, and I don’t want to forget that it’s been a little bit, Mark, since your donation came through, but I wanted to mention that Mark’s donation was made in honor of Annie. You can do that, too, when you contribute to the show. Just tell me who you’d like to thank, who’s important or special in your life, who has been, is currently or will be, and I’m happy to thank them as well here on Relationship Alive.

Neil Sattin: Before we get into the topic, just a reminder that we do have a free group on Facebook, if you’re still on Facebook, I’m not sure honestly how much longer I’m going to be there. But if you are there, we have a Relationship Alive community where we have more than 4,000 people who are listeners of the show gathered to create a safe space to talk about relationship stuff. So, come join us there. It is a closed group, so the only people who see what you post are the people who are in the group. Generally, it’s a really supportive community. And the times occasionally when people need a redo, they’re generally pretty good about asking for that and giving positive, supportive, constructive feedback so that you can work on your skills at supporting other people as well. So that’s the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook.

Neil Sattin: If you have a question for me on the show, just email it to questions at relationshipalive dot com. You can record yourself asking the question or you can just email the question to me. I was thinking the other day about how it might be fun to actually have people interview me for the show, so that’s something I’d consider, too. If you want to interview me around a particular topic for Relationship Alive, let’s do that experiment. That will be fun. Just again, questions at relationshipalive dot com.

Neil Sattin: And lastly, if you are looking for ways to improve your communication, we’re going to be talking about one particular aspect of communication today. But in general, if you are looking for ways to communicate about things that are intimate or challenging and to stay connected to your partner while you do, then please download my free guide to my top three relationship communication secrets. These are special strategies for communicating in relationship that are a little different than your conventional wisdom around how to communicate well. And by putting them into practice, you can stay connected no matter how challenging the topic that you are talking about. You have a pretty good chance anyway. Nothing is 100% certain, right? You never know. You can do your best, and the other person might not be their best, or they might still be doing their best and it might still go poorly. But to get a really good chance of it going well, start with my free communication guide. To get that, just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word “relate” to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: Let’s get on with the show and talk about sexting. Sexting, when it’s done right, it can be super hot, super fun and super connecting. And when it’s done not so right, then it can be really horrible and go poorly and really be disconnecting or alienating even. So, let’s talk about sexting and some of the principles, ’cause I’m not going to… The way that it unfolds, and the way that it needs to unfold for you or for the person with whom you are sexting, that’s going to be different based on every person. In fact, one of the things that I love most about sexting is that when it’s done well, it’s generally because it’s following the rules of good improvisation.

Neil Sattin: Now, we’ve had a couple episodes on the show where we’ve talked about improvisation and how to do that well, and so I want to give you those episode numbers so that you can listen to them at your leisure. The first is episode number 17, which was called “Stop Worrying, Start Playing”, and that was with Patti Stiles who’s one of the world’s foremost improv teachers. She’s based out of Australia. And that was a super fun conversation. And then we had another conversation later with Cathy Salit, that was episode number 78: “How to Have More Fun in Your Relationship.”

Neil Sattin: If you’re not sure how to locate episodes based on number, you can scroll through your podcast app that you use, if you’re using a smartphone or something like that. Or you can just go to neilsattin.com, which is the Relationship Alive website, and there’s a little search magnifying glass up at the top, and you can just go – in that magnifying glass, you can type in the episode number, and it will pull up the episode for you. I’m going to do that right now just to prove that it works. I just typed in “78” and it brought up episode 178, episode 78, and then some random episodes, so I don’t know what to tell you there, but it started with the right episodes.

Neil Sattin: Okay, great. Good sexting follows the rules of good improvisation. And basically what that means is first creating space for the other person to respond to you. Second, to be really paying close attention to how they are responding to you and looking for ways to amplify what they do or say or add to it. And there’s some responsibility that we have as communicators in general, to be listening well, to be responding to what is actually being offered rather than off on our own tangent. And also, there’s a responsibility for us to participate, like in good faith.

Neil Sattin: One of the first things about sexting that is important to establish with a person is whether or not they want to sext. Now, some people just don’t. For some people, that can be a super edgy thing or it can bring up bad memories about some bad experience, so it’s not like everyone necessarily right off the bat wants to be a sexting partner. It might be helpful to have a conversation. Again, download that free relationship communication guide. It might be good to have a conversation about sexting so that you know where the person who you’re talking to stands, whether that person is your close intimate partner that you’ve been with for 10 or 20 years, or whether that person is someone who’s totally new to you. Questions you might ask are things like, “Can we talk about a topic that might be a little edgy or a little risky?”

Neil Sattin: Hopefully they’ll say yes, and then you might say, “I’ve been wondering if we can talk about sexting and what that would be like.” Or, “I’m curious to know if you would ever be interested in having sexy texting time with me.” There are a couple ways. Now, you can think of something that feels good for you or that feels right, or that feels right with knowing your partner. But I think it’s helpful to, one, get their agreement to even have a conversation with you about something edgy so they know what’s coming. And then the second thing is to make it explicit that what you’re talking about is being explicit to some degree via texting.

Neil Sattin: Now, as you talk about it, if you have a conversation about it, then you’ll be able to gauge how well you or your partner… How much you actually want to get explicit. And there are ways to sext that actually don’t involve a single naughty word. Sometimes using the naughty words can be fun, other times you don’t have to go there. And there’s an important reason for that that I will tell you about in just a minute. But it’s good to get a sense of whether or not someone is into that. One way is the direct way, which I just gave you. Now, a second way to explore whether or not someone might be into that would be to actually start something with them, to start a chain of potential sexting. But you gotta start off really lightly. It could be something like, “What are you wearing right now?” Something like that, especially once you have the precedent with someone of doing this sort of thing, then it might be very easy for you to just say something like that, and suddenly there you are getting each other in the mood.

Neil Sattin: But if you’re not sure about another person and their willingness, and you’re not sure you even want to ask them directly for whatever reason – although I gotta say, being direct is far and above the best way to go about it – then you can do a little foray into something that leaves the door open for things to be sexy, but isn’t next necessarily sexy in and of itself. And I’ll give you an example of that in just a moment.

Neil Sattin: Actually, I’ll give that example to you now ’cause I wasn’t even sure – I’ve had something I was going to say, but now I’m going to give you the example. So something like that might be… Oh, I remember what I was going to say. I’ll say it next. You might text something like, “I was thinking of you a moment ago… ” and that’s it. Now, remember the whole idea of sexy texting is that you are in a conversation with the other person. So if I text you something like, “I was thinking about you just a moment ago, and I was imagining your beautiful eyes and your curves, and I was thinking about un-zipping your dress.” If you just go off like that, you don’t know what’s going on with the other person. They might be in the middle of a business meeting, or they might be changing a child’s diaper, who the hell knows. It could be something that is absolutely not sexy, and it might not be the right time for them.

Neil Sattin: So if you just kind of launch off onto your sexy talk at the wrong time, then it could be funny, and it could very well have the opposite effect of what you would be intending, which would I hope be to have a hot, fun connecting time with this other person. So you want to engage them. Something simple, “I was just thinking of you… ” and then you wait. And sometimes, as one of my favorite musicians, Tom Petty, used to say, “The waiting is the hardest part.” But you gotta be patient because what comes after a text like that is so important. You might get a response like, “Oh, yeah?” with a question mark, which is an invitation for you to say something more. Or you might just get a, “Oh, that’s cool. What were you thinking about?” Or you might get a, “Awesome, babe, see you later,” or you might get a non-response that shows you that the other person isn’t really there, or they’re not really ready to play with you.

Neil Sattin: And then a response like, “Oh, yeah?” that could be an invitation, that could be a, “Hmm, what’s going to happen here, I might be willing to play.” Or it might just be, “I’m curious, you were thinking about me, how come?” Even then, you don’t want to launch right into something. In fact, you don’t ever want to launch right into something, and here is why, because the most important thing that happens in sexting, and this actually might be true in any form of communication. I should really think this through, but definitely in sexting the most important thing is not what you say. The important thing is what is happening in your imagination or in your partner’s imagination. This is truly one of those times where saying less could be more, because really what you’re both trying to do is to go on a journey together, a journey of fantasy together.

Neil Sattin: Now, this is why sexting can sometimes be problematic when you don’t really know the person, you don’t know them, you haven’t spent any time with them in person, you’ve just had some communication with them online or maybe a phone call or something like that, but you’ve never actually been with them, and you’ve never even been with them sexually like… So we’ll talk for a minute about the risk of that. But right now, just know that so much of what you are trying to do is you’re trying to create this shared story that’s going to unfold under your fingertips and in between your ears, in other words, in your mind and in your body, because when you’re sexting, you’re going to be able to have a very visceral experience that incorporates most, if not all of your senses, and your own erotic energy.

Neil Sattin: So that is the important part of sexting. Knowing exactly the right thing to say or the perfect combination of words, trust me, that is not as important as saying things that inspire the other person to get into their bodies, to get into their experience, and to get into their imagination about what might be happening. For instance, if you text, “I was just thinking of you… ” and the other person responds, “Oh, yeah?” Then you might say, “Yeah, I was thinking about your big broad shoulders,” or “I was thinking about your deep blue eyes.” Or if it’s someone that you don’t even know, like an online dating person, you might refer to a conversation that you’ve had, “Yeah, I was thinking about when you were talking about blah, blah,” whatever it is, “and how that made me feel inside.” Or you could refer to something, “I’m thinking about you in that red dress or you in that suit, and the way it makes me feel inside.”

Neil Sattin: Now, that’s a pretty edgy thing, especially if you add the, “and the way it makes me feel inside part,” ’cause you’re basically putting it out there like, “There’s something going on, I’m thinking about you.” And let’s face it, any improv is a risk, and definitely sexting when you don’t know if the other person is quite ready for it, or willing or wanting, it’s a risk to put yourself out there. So you gotta be willing to be courageous. When you say something like that, now the door is open, and now you wait again to see how the other person is going to respond. If they start asking you questions about how you feel – where they are really with you and they’re really curious – then I think most likely the game is on. If they don’t respond or if they respond in a business-like manner, or if they respond in a way that leaves you really questioning over and over again, whether they’re there with you, then they’re probably not there with you, ’cause most people, when they’re ready for something like that, it’s only going to take a little bit of back and forth before it’s super clear what’s happening. You gotta take my word for that.

Neil Sattin: And the thing is, you don’t want to force anyone into it. There’s nothing quite as unsexy as trying to continually get someone into this sexy journey with you when they’re not interested, so pay attention to what you’re receiving, and wait and see how the other person responds. They may respond with something really forward and even graphic. If you said, “I was thinking about you with your big broad shoulders,” they might say something like, “Oh, and that makes me think about wrapping my arms around you and pulling you close.” Well, if someone responds that way, game on. If they say something like, “Yeah, I used to… They came in really good in rugby,” then you really don’t know where the person’s at. They could be joking with you. They could be just being playful, or they could be not interested. And so you’re going to have to take the conversation a little bit further to find out.

Neil Sattin: So if someone says, “Yeah, those shoulders came in really handy when I was playing rugby.” Then you might say something like, “Tell me a little bit more about what the scrum is like…?” Isn’t that what it’s called in rugby the scrum? I don’t know. I never played rugby, but… “Tell me more about what that’s like being all huddled together.” You’re staying with what they offer you, which in improv is known as “yes…and”. You’re taking what someone gives you, and you’re saying, “And something else” that goes along with what they gave you. So if someone talks about rugby, you don’t want to say like, “Well, I hate rugby,” or you don’t want to say, “Well, let’s get off the rugby field and into the bedroom.” There might be a time to say something like that, when it’s clear that the person is talking about more than rugby. If all they really want to tell you about is rugby, then it might be a little out of place to invite them into your imaginary bedroom. So you’re going to have to take the conversation, the play, the improvisation a little bit further to see where they go.

Neil Sattin: The reason that this can be challenging when you don’t know someone very well – and maybe you’ve had this experience in the past, I’ve had this experience before – where because so much of sexting and really any sort of written correspondence… This is one of the most challenging things about online dating is, so much of the interactions that happen are through the written word. We are different people when we’re writing versus when we’re talking, versus when we are seeing another person versus when we are right there in the flesh with another person. Those are all different modes of communication, and the way that we represent ourselves isn’t always the same. Partly that’s because the more removed you are from the direct experience of a person, the more you are creating that experience in your mind of the person.

Neil Sattin: So perhaps you’ve had that experience of having a written correspondence with someone that feels passionate and playful, and light, and sexy and engaging, and then you meet them in person and there’s just no chemistry, or there’s none of that fire, that playfulness or no attraction, or no interest, or no engagement, or whatever it is. Or it’s just like awkward and shy and weird, and we will talk in a moment about what to do when that happens. But just recognize that the risk here, when you are sexting with someone that you don’t actually know, is that you are going to be creating this whole fantasy world that might not fully be in alignment with what your experiences of that person in real life, real time, and that’s challenging. Especially if you’ve spent days and days and days, maybe even longer, having more of a virtual relationship with a person. If you find yourself there in person and it’s just not clicking, well, that can be a real downer.

Neil Sattin: In fact, maybe some relationships are just meant to be virtual. They can be fun and perfect just like that, and don’t ever have to be more. That could be true. However, I think that it’s more common that people will have this amazing virtual experience in real life, it won’t go so well, and then the after-virtual experience just never is quite the same, ’cause so much is in the anticipation, so much is in the story that you have told yourself about the other person, about what they are like, what they look like, how they are as lovers. So, yeah, it can be challenging, whereas if you have experience with someone as an intimate partner, then you have some of that experience to draw on in terms of the picture that you paint for each other of what’s happening. And also, the experience that you’re creating for yourself in your head as you go through it is going to be aligned with what you naturally create with your partner in real life.

Neil Sattin: Now, sometimes you can just get a little bit into the sexting with someone that you are with in real life as a way of simply stoking the fire of something that could happen in person later. So all of that, “I was thinking of you… Blah, blah, blah.” That can become, “I can’t wait to see you tonight,” or “Let’s make sure we get the kids to bed early,” or “I’m grabbing takeout so that we don’t have to worry about cooking dinner,” whatever it is. And in days like we have now, where you might both be sheltering-in-place in your house, even texting to each other under those circumstances can be fun because again, it is a different mode of communication, and because it allows you to take advantage of the fact that it activates your imagination and your partner’s imagination.

Neil Sattin: And sometimes that’s one of the hardest things about getting out of the routine and into something that’s a little bit more intimate or erotic, it’s because we’re just… We’re in the flow of something that’s purely domestic, and it can be hard to change gears. So sending a little text, even when you’re in the same house as someone can be a way to tap into a different part of them and their experience, and to change up the conversation and the vibe a little bit. That is if someone is willing to do this with you. I’m a big fan. I think it really activates a lot of our imagination and our eroticism, and there are things that we can text to each other that we might not ever say to each other. Sometimes that comes through in a negative way. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten a text from someone where you’re like, “This person would never say that to me in person, but here they are texting it to me.” But here it works to your advantage in a positive way where you can say things that you would never say.

Neil Sattin: And if it doesn’t go so well, whatever it is you say, then you can always kinda laugh it off. So getting back to the whole process of getting started on a sexting-capade, if it’s clear that the other person isn’t going there with you, then the best thing to do is to just kind of blow it off with a little joke, and that could be like where you just let it go, and that’s fine. Or you could be like, “Sounds like you’re really busy right now.” And if they say, “Yes,” then you might be like, “Okay, well, I’m going to leave you alone ’cause clearly my mind was elsewhere.” So you’re naming it for the other person, which I think is actually a huge mark of integrity where you’re not leaving them guessing, “What was that all about? Were they trying to sext with me? What was going on with them?” So you can actually say, “Hey, yeah, my mind was elsewhere, and yours isn’t, and that’s totally fine. That’s totally okay.” Yeah, you definitely want to let the other person off the hook so that they don’t feel bad about it, because you don’t want to create any pressure around this at all, really around anything sexual, if you can avoid it.

Neil Sattin: So, if someone is a no, then that’s okay, you can be like, “Alright, no worries. I was glad to… It’s good to talk to you. It’s good to text with you a little bit. I just wanted to check in more than anything.” And if someone is reaching out to you in that way and you want to let them down gently…If you barely know the person, and it’s actually offensive, then you might not want to be so gentle. You might be like, “Wow, you’re really going for it, aren’t you? I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of conversation between us,” simple as that. Or if you are more intimate with the other person or you know them well, then you might be like, “I would so want to go there with you, but right now really is not the time for me. I’m so sorry, and I really appreciate that you were willing to put yourself out there like that.”

Neil Sattin: So you probably heard a lot in there. There is me taking responsibility for myself. There’s me naming what I think is going on with the other person. There’s me appreciating them. There’s me even apologizing, “No big deal. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I can’t do this with you right now, but I would love to later. Thanks for bringing it up. Can I have a rain check on this conversation?” There are all sorts of ways where you can let someone down gently and still honor that they were being courageous and taking a risk. This is part of the dual responsibility in relationships. There’re any number of ways that this can be illustrated, but here’s one clear way where we are taking responsibility for just recognizing, “Oh, you were taking a risk, and I honor that in you,” or “I’m taking a risk, and I just wanted you to know that. I’m naming that.

Neil Sattin: And these are great opportunities both for shared vulnerability in relationship, but also sharing responsibility for the moment, really owning your part in any moment that’s happening goes such a long way to increasing the generosity that you both experience, because when you’re taking responsibility for yourself fully, then I won’t end up feeling taken for granted, because I know that you’ve got you and that you recognize how much work I’m putting in, how much effort, how many risks I’m taking. It’s so important, ’cause in the end, it’s that spirit of generosity and reciprocity that makes for good sexting. It makes for a good relationship-ing. It makes for good everything.

Neil Sattin: Now, I need to take a quick break before we dive into a little bit more of where you go, once the sexting starts happening, where you go with that. I want to tell you more about that, but before I do, I just need to mention this week’s sponsor. Now, I’m not sure that they can offer you much to help you with your sexting technique. But if you are nervous about sexting or in general, you need some extra support around the things that are getting in the way of your happiness or achieving your goals, then this sponsor offers a great way that you can do that from the comfort of your own home, or from your office, or from your car, anywhere really, and their name is BetterHelp.

Neil Sattin: BetterHelp will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. You can chat via text with your counselor at any time, and you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions all without having to go anywhere. It’s more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and they do offer a financial aid if you qualify. They also offer a broad range of expertise so that you can find the person most suited to helping you with your own unique situation. So whether it’s needing to muster up some courage, or dealing with depression or stress, or anxiety, trauma, whatever is up for you, try out BetterHelp to help you move past the places where you’re getting stuck.

Neil Sattin: So to start living a happier life today, you can try BetterHelp. And for being a Relationship Alive listener, you can get an extra 10% off your first month. Just visit betterhelp.com/alive, and join over 800,000 people taking charge of their mental health. Again, that’s betterhelp.com/alive. And, thank you so much BetterHelp for your support of our mission here at Relationship Alive.

Neil Sattin: Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what to do when you’re in the middle, when sexting is on, when it’s happening. What do you do? How do you make it sexy and keep it sexy? Now, I’m going to just give you my thoughts on this, and my experience. So, this might be different for you, and I’ll do my best to cover a few different scenarios so that you might find yourself fitting into some way of doing this that I describe. Amusingly, I just glanced at the clock and I realize that I’ve been talking for almost 40 minutes about sexting, and who knew I had so much to say about sexting? But there’s actually quite a bit to say. And, as you can tell, it branches off into so many other aspects of relationship that are so important. I love that about this topic. Every piece of it is a fractal that opens to a whole different world that’s related but different.

Neil Sattin: So, what do you do? Let’s go back to those conversations about sexting that we talked about at the very top of the episode. What you might want to get clear on is, what kind of language is a turn on for your partner and for yourself, and what kind of language isn’t. Now we may have to get a little explicit here. If your children are for some reason listening to this episode, this would be a good time to hit pause and to resume later. I’m assuming you did that. Some people want just delicate language about sex. They don’t even want genitals named.

Neil Sattin: In fact, even the word genital, if you’re one of those people, it probably just turned you way off right now, they probably just want to talk about things that are a little bit more metaphorical. I’m thinking of, for some reason, a good romance novel like, “That’s making me feel warm between my legs,” or, “Oh, I’m getting really excited, or, “I’m feeling all this energy in my body.” Or even just saying that you’re getting turned on in a gentle way. Saying turned on is a little bit more gentle. “Oh, I’m feeling so turned on right now.” It’s a lot different than like, “Man, I want to fuck your brains out right now.” Totally different.

Neil Sattin: They’re essentially saying the same thing, but they’re saying the same thing in a very different way. And you want to get a sense of what works for you so that you can communicate that to your partner. And you want to get a sense of what works for them, so that you can communicate to them using the language that is going to be most powerful and evocative for them. So you might talk about things like, “Well, what words do you like to use for your various body parts? What words are turn on to you? What words are turn off to you?” Those are really important things to know because when you are texting, you are in the realm of words.

Neil Sattin: You’re in the realm of the words that you say, and then you’re in the realm of the thoughts that those words get you to think, or get your partner to think. If you’re able to have a conversation about it, or if you get a sense of where they land, or just from how you’ve known them to be, you could be wrong. You could think that someone is super innocent and vanilla, and find out that they really love to talk really dirty, and say really dirty things. That could be true, and you will find out as you try this out, because usually if that is true for them, and they’re feeling safe with you, then they’ll start by taking a risk with words like that.

Neil Sattin: When your partner offers something like that, then you get to be a “Yes, and” to it. The “and” can be steering it in a new direction. The “and” can be just going with it, even if you might not necessarily use that word, but you know that they like to use that word. It could be like, “Wow, you just said that, didn’t you?” Where you’re actually calling attention to what you’re doing in the moment, which can be fun too. It can keep things playful. If you say to someone like, “Oh, I just want you to put your cock in me.” A totally legitimate sexting response to that might be like, “Wow, you just went there, didn’t you?” Now, you might want to use an emoji there, like a smiley face or a winky face or something like that, just to show that you’re not being mean, that you’re being playful. The goal here is to be playful and fun, and to also pay attention to what you are saying and what is being said to you, how that makes you feel in your body.

Neil Sattin: Now, I’m just going to say it right now that when you are sexting, you have license to touch yourself. Now, if you’re at the office, you may need to exercise some discretion about that. Depending on the circumstances, you may just have to be totally in your imagination. But if you have a little bit of privacy, then I give you permission hereby to touch the parts of your body that feel good, to even take a break for a minute from whatever conversation you’re having, and just to go into your fantasy about what is happening, and to explore that for yourself, to explore the way it makes you feel, to touch yourself in ways that feel really good, to build the pleasure in you, and to build your story about what’s happening and what’s unfolding in your imagination, in your experience. And then once you’ve done that, you can transmit that to your partner.

Neil Sattin: It’s funny, some of the most hot sexting experiences that I’ve had that have lasted even the longest, and I’ve had some that I’ve gone pretty long – and some can be super short. But it’s funny, I’ll look back at them and realize that we actually didn’t say a whole lot. It’s like the art in sexting isn’t about how much you say or how graphic you get. It’s saying just the right things that evoke the pictures, the experiences for your partner, and then creating the space for them to have that experience and to appreciate it in them.

Neil Sattin: A moment ago, when I was talking about those meta moments where you might say like, “Wow, you just went there, didn’t you?” I think it is really helpful to the experience to name things like, “Wow, I am so turned on right now,” or “I wish you were right here next to me right now,” or “Oh my God, I can’t wait until you’re next to me.” Or if you know how it feels to be actually being sexual with the other person, you might say, “Oh, I know exactly what that’s like. It feels so good.” You’re, of course, saying all that with your words.

Neil Sattin: Now, as you sext, I think it’s a good to note on the punctuation, as silly as that sounds. I think it’s really helpful to use dots like dot dot dot, and question marks, and to use those as ways of reminding the other person that you’re waiting for them. Again, you don’t want to just sext AT your partner unless they’ve asked you to do that. I could see that happening. “Just send me sexy texts. I’m not going to be able to text back to you because I’m in the middle of making dinner for the kids, but just keep sexting me up, ’cause every time I read those, I get totally turned on.” So there’s a case where you’ve been given permission to just monologue your sexting.

Neil Sattin: But for the most part, you want to constantly be creating space, so you want to offer a few things and you might… This is a great way to use pauses in your texting, so you might just text a phrase. And I gave an example of this at the very beginning. So here’s another. It might be something like, “Now I trace my fingers” and hit Send. Or actually it would probably be like, “Now I trace my fingers… ” Send. “Starting at your collar bone… ” Send. “Working my way down… ” Send. And then you might ask a question like, “Where do you want me to go?” Or, “How do you like that?” So you offer something and then you ask a question.

Neil Sattin: Now, sometimes you’re going to just offer something, you don’t have to always put a question at the end, you don’t want to be formulaic about it. So you might be offering something and then your partner might just start texting you back, and then you’re in a back and forth. So there’s no hard and fast rules about how to do this, or “I need three phrases with ellipses at the end, and then a question with a question mark at the end.” It doesn’t work that way. If you’re stuck, then sure, use those things as ways to foster your own creativity, or to help remind your partner, “Hey, I’m over here. I’m waiting for you. Are you still there?” And in fact, if you lose your partner to some sexy reverie, then you might even ask them like, “Are you still breathing over there?”

Neil Sattin: So you want to be kinda playful about it, but it’s a way of reminding them like, “Hey, we’re on this journey together. Where’d you go?” In this zone, this is a good time to think about painting a picture of how you want to touch your partner, how you want them to touch you, and describing it in ways that aren’t too specific unless specificity is asked for. If you asked me, “Where do you want me to go?” I could respond, “Just keep going down.” That’s one way, or I could respond like, “I want you to grab my cock.”

Neil Sattin: There’s just any number of ways, or like “I want you to tease me and… ” And you could leave it at that, “I just want you to tease me. What do you do next?” And now it’s back in your court, so you can be like, “Oh, okay, how am I going to tease Neil?” There’s all kinds of possibility there. One of the best things I think, is for you to describe something about what you like or what you want to do, and then to be an invitation to whatever comes next. Now, hopefully, that’s becoming clearer. As I’m talking about this, I’m thinking “hmmm…maybe I should make a little how-to guide on sexting?” You’ll be the first to know if that happens, but I’m hoping that this is giving you a lot of good pointers.

Neil Sattin: As this goes on, with you inviting each other into the dance, talking about what you’re really enjoying, what feels good, what you want to do, what you want to be done, giving your partner really appreciative feedback, “Oh, like you said that, that just really… That felt so good.” or, “I’m just imagining that and that’s so amazing.” or whatever it is. So you’re giving each other feedback. In many ways, this can be great practice for being in the bedroom and learning how to communicate better as lovers when you’re actually in the bedroom with each other because it’s required here.

Neil Sattin: But at the same time, also allowing each other that space to be in your own experience. And if your partner is not squeamish about this kind of thing, you might even say something like, “I can’t help myself. I’m just…I’m touching myself right now.” Or, “Are you touching yourself? I am.” And if they say, “I am, too,” then you might say, “Oh, tell me a little bit about that.” ’cause you can be in the fantasy world, and then you can bring people into their own experience, “Tell me about what is happening for you right now. I’m so turned on right now.” “Oh, tell me more about that. Tell me more about how you’re turned on. What are you thinking about? What’s getting you? What’s getting you the most turned on right now?” So you can learn about each other, too, by asking questions. You’re asking questions, you’re staying in the flow, you’re ramping things up, you’re getting more and more excited, and then there’s the question about how you bring things to an end.

Neil Sattin: Now, if you only have like 10 or 15 minutes to begin with, then you might say that at the beginning so that you both know that you’re operating within certain time constraints. If you don’t have time constraints, that’s a totally different thing. But if you do, then you might ask each other something really blatant like, “Do you want to come now?” And I’m trying to think of even a less direct way. You’ve probably got something – if we were here talking about this, and we’d come up with probably a half dozen different ways to ask the same question. Or you might offer it, if you’re feeling like you don’t want to. For instance, you might be like, “Just so you know, I’m totally good right now. I don’t need to come but if you want to, I’m totally here for you. Tell me what you want me to do.” So you’re showing that you’re available and you’re taking responsibility for yourself. Or you might be like, “I really, really… I have to go in two minutes but I have to come before I do.”

Neil Sattin: Now, for me personally… And I’ve talked about this on the show before. I don’t like to have traditional climax orgasms all that often. I like to explore more the energetic spaces that happen, that open up when you stop having peak orgasms, and that’s just one type of orgasmic experience. But there are all kinds of different nuances to how you have orgasms, and the kinds of orgasms that your body is capable of in different parts of your body, different ways of experiencing it. There’s so much more than the tension, tension, tension, and then release that you can feel from a more physical climax kind of orgasm.

Neil Sattin: For me, I am often good – not necessarily ejaculating and having to clean all that up. I’m usually good not doing that. No, that’s not always true but often it is. But this is something that’s very personal. You might have a little conversation like, “Do you want to? Do you not want to? Do you want to just like… ” If you decided you didn’t want to, then you might just start transitioning your sexting into something a little bit more sweet and connected like you might have after actually having sex. For instance, you might say something like, “Let’s just cuddle up and hold each other. I’ll be the big spoon. What do you think about that?” So you’re even in your story about what’s happening. You’re transitioning to a different kind of mood that allows you to just bask in everything that you’ve stirred up. Or again, you might be like, “This has been so amazing. I can’t wait to see you later.” or, “I can’t wait to see you in person, whenever that happens.”

Neil Sattin: Now, let’s say you decide though, that you’ve gotten to a point where you both just want to come like crazy. Well, that’s something that you can do together, too. And you can play with that like, “You want to? I want to. Alright, let’s do it. Don’t do it yet. Let’s sync up with each other.” And so you might have to figure out where you’re each at and what each of you needs a little bit more of. So if you’re both right there on the edge…

Neil Sattin: Now, this is something that is so funny, I think. It’s not universally true, but for a lot of people, it can be a lot easier to have an orgasm when you’re by yourself than when you’re with another person. And so you might find that someone with whom orgasm-ing when you’re actually having sex is challenging, that when you’re there sexting with each other, that they’re right there and ready. Hey, we know our own bodies better than other people know them, and that’s why sexting can be so powerful, because so much of what’s happening is happening in our own heads. And so we are really in control of how the fantasy is unfolding. We can make it unfold exactly like how we would want it to be in real life.

Neil Sattin: But then you can experiment with things like you can switch to recording yourselves, sending little audio recordings to each other. You can have a little countdown and you both are like, “Alright, we’re going to count down from five, and when we get to one, we’re both going to orgasm.” And there are any number of ways that you can do this. But in all of those magical, “We came at the same time and the world exploded into beautiful fireworks of ecstasy” moments. You can do that in your sexting because you have that much more control over what’s happening.

Neil Sattin: So I invite you to play with what feels right in the moment and to show up for each other. If you do go for the big 01 orgasm, then don’t just fall asleep on your partner. Take a few moments afterwards to be, one, “How was that?” Or checking in like, “Oh my God, that felt amazing,” or, “That was crazy,” or whatever it is. Share with them about your experience and give them space to share about their experience, and then offer each other so much appreciation. “That was amazing. That was so fun. You’re so good at that. I loved when you talked about blah, blah. Let’s definitely do this again.” whatever it is, offering each other lots of appreciation and good feelings so that it becomes something that can become part of your repertoire with how you nurture the erotic energy in your relationship. It can be such a useful tool if you are willing and able to go there with each other.

Neil Sattin: And lastly, yeah, you might want to offer some closing moments about how great that is or how you can’t wait until you can do that in person, or how now you’re going to just imagine curling up with the person, and what that feels like, or what that might feel like, and bringing your sexting to a close in a way that feels right for you. Wow. I’m sure when I go back and listen to this or read the transcript, I will realize that there’s more that I could say. Oh, I remember I talked about something earlier on, I do want to cover this before we go. So what do you do if you’ve been sexting with someone that you don’t really know all that well, and then you meet in person and it’s awkward, you’re not totally feeling it, what do you do? Uh-oh. What a downer.

Neil Sattin: Well, it’s possible that it’s not salvageable. It’s possible that that’s just the reality. The reality is that in-person interactions are different. And when it comes right down to it, the in-person reality of you and this other person just aren’t going to work, and that’s okay. You can be thankful for the fun experiences that you had in virtual space with that person and just acknowledge graciously that you’re not totally feeling it. So that might be one way. Another way might be to acknowledge, particularly leading up to it, because I imagine that if you’re anything like me, that if you have incredible virtual experiences with a person, then you might be a little nervous about meeting them in person. What’s this going to be like? Is it going to live up to what the virtual has been like? Etcetera, etcetera.

Neil Sattin: By the way, I am a huge fan of actual phone calls or video chatting with someone. That can be a step between texting or messaging and actually meeting someone in person, so that can be a good way to get a sense of how it feels with that person. But let’s say, you’re nervous about it. Well, one of the best things that you can do is to just voice that for the other person. When you’re there with each other, you might name it like, “Wow, I’m noticing that I’m feeling a little nervous and a little awkward.” or, “Yeah, it’s so weird ’cause we’ve shared such intimate moments virtually, and I’m realizing here in front of you that I actually don’t know you at all in this way.”

Neil Sattin: So talking about what your present moment experiences… You’ve probably heard me talk about this before, can be such a great way to connect with another person. If things are a little weird and awkward, if you’re able to name it, and you’re able to name the experience that you’re having of that, that can help put you at ease. It can help with the other person at ease, and it just might get you to a place where you can be exploring connection again.

Neil Sattin: Again, that’s not always going to work, and there’s probably more I could say about that, maybe we’ll do a whole segment on online dating and transitioning into real life from the online space. But that’s my helpful hint for you right now, is to be able to name it as it’s happening. And then another thing you can do is, you can talk about the experiences that you’ve shared together. So you could talk about, “Wow, when we were sexting two nights ago, that was amazing. That’s one of the best sexting experiences I’ve ever had.” You’re actually building on experiences that the two of you share. “What was that like for you?”

Neil Sattin: Now you’re in conversation, you’re getting related, you’re talking about ways that you’ve known each other. It could be a huge advantage that you’ve already opened up that erotic intimate space between the two of you, once you get over whatever awkwardness there might be about suddenly being in person when you haven’t been in person before or much.

Neil Sattin: Okay. Thank you so much for being with me here today to talk about sexting, a very important topic. And just know that I’m available for practice sessions. No, just kidding. Well… No, I am just kidding. That being said, maybe the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook might be a good place to share some of your experiences around sexting or you can always email me. My email address is neilius at neilsattin dot com. I hope you’ve had fun day, ’cause this has been a lot of fun to talk about.

Neil Sattin: I will be back next week. Am I back next week? Next week might be… No, next week is a week off, so I’ll be back the following week. I haven’t quite decided yet who you’re going to hear from, but we’ve got a couple great possible episodes on tap for you and more are always coming. Until then, take care, happy sexting, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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