Sexting: The Dangers, The Dirt, and the Downright Disgusting

Harry McCarthy’s probing examination of the complex world of textual intercourse.

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It’s happened to us all. After rinsing Timepiece’s £2.50 doubles deal to within an inch of its life, inhaling unspeakable volumes of smoke on top-top’s dance floor, and doing all that you can to avoid finding yourself in the middle of a scrum of vomit-spattered rugby freshers, you finally manage to achieve the ultimate goal of the night and lock lips with a lucky lad, lady or, if all else fails, local.

Once the vodka begins to wear off and you begin to realise that more alcohol will be required to steer the night in the desired direction (i.e. them not abandoning you), you lead them to the bar to refuel. It is here that you are likely to be faced with the all-too-familiar dilemma: to exchange numbers or no?

With the desire to fit yourself snugly into the 60% of students who find their life partners at University always at the back of your mind, the answer is almost always guaranteed to be yes – what if this one’s The One? So exchange you do, before being dragged away by your friends with the promise of a cheeky text tomorrow morning.

Morning comes in all its dry-mouthed, churning-stomached glory, bringing with it (if you’re lucky), the promised text. You reply (it would be rude not to). They do likewise. An innocent conversation has begun, whether you like it or not. Then things start getting a bit cheekier. Before too long, one of you will inevitably bring into play the cheeky semicolon followed by closed parenthesis, otherwise known as ‘;)’. An invisible line is crossed, and, suddenly, you’re sexting. You may think nothing of this to begin with (after all, it’s only texting), but be warned. The world of textual intercourse is a perilous landmine that must be navigated across with extreme caution. Here follow my seven deadly tips for avoiding a nasty explosion of the wrong sort.

1. Take things slow. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of sexting novices who distinctly lack this basic intuition. If they’re still playfully warming up, allow them to do so. ‘I wanna pound you so hard’ is not an appropriate response to ‘Have you been a good boy? ;)’

2. Make your sexts a ‘lol’-free zone. There’s no quality more unattractive in a textual partner than someone who doesn’t take it seriously. You may well be amused by their increasingly lurid propositions, but alerting them to the fact isn’t likely to go down well. You’d have a lot to answer for if you really did ‘lol’ during the real thing, after all.

3. Avoid clichés like the plague. Romantic imagery, metaphors and ‘been-there-done-that’ propositions are not desirable in this context. Gems such as ‘If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?’ demonstrate a lack of imagination and inventiveness. Potential side effects of such behaviour include withdrawal and disappointment for them, and forced chastity and self-loathing for you.

4. Keep your darker desires at bay. It’s always a good idea to assess your audience before going in all guns blazing. Be mindful that your textual partner may not be into the same things as you. If they seem like the shy, reserved type, then it’s probably best to withhold your babygro fetish for the time being.

5. Don’t rate their work. Whatever you do, and however much they ask, never, ever, EVER give them a mark out of ten. EVER. Flattery will increase their determination and may lead to unwanted attention, while brutal honesty is likely to lead to a deflated ego and even a serious dispute. I once refused to grant a textual partner the extra 0.5 he so vehemently believed he deserved, and I haven’t had so much as a ‘:P’ from him since.

6. Beware of camera-whoring. There may come a time a little further into the proceedings when you are asked for visual evidence of whatever it is you may be discussing. Think very carefully before granting it. Consider the possible consequences of this bold move: what does it say about you? Who might see it? What will the repercussions be? If, however, you are willing to bare all, be creative. No one wants to receive an image that wouldn’t look out of place in a GCSE Biology textbook.

7. If you can’t stand the heat, get back to the kitchen. Don’t feel as though you have to keep the conversation going beyond the realms of the physically possible (and the legal). If their propositions become a little too much to handle, you are well within your rights to abort mission. Go and make yourself a sandwich instead. You know where you stand with one of those.

It’s a dangerous game, folks, but if you play by the rules, the rewards can be enormous. Who knows? You might even get a real shag eventually, and you may well discover that they are, indeed, The One. Just be prepared to make something up when the kids ask you how you met.