There’s no denying that we live in a digital environment, and a lot of our interactions are done online, and that includes relationships and the dating scene. Navigating a relationship at the best of times is tricky, but it gets even more complicated when online activities are involved.
Social media and dating apps like Tinder and Match.com make human interactions even more involved. How you behave in virtual reality can be different to how you would normally behave in everyday life. Of course, how well you know a person plays a major role, but we always need to be responsible with how we go about it. Just remember – that everything online stays online, and that every photo and text sent to someone can be saved, kept, and shared with others. So, in a way safe sexting is just as important as safe sex!
Let’s discuss some sexting safety ground rules:
1. Make Sure You Trust the Person You Sexting
When you “meet” someone online, it’s easy to get carried away thinking they’re the greatest thing on the planet! Just bear in mind you haven’t actually met them in person yet, and spent some time with them. Even people we know can surprise or disappoint us, never mind a complete stranger. You might feel like you know them and connect deeply with them, but let your head rule over your heart. Never abandon all sense out the window; still be rational, logical and keep your head. They might seem trustworthy, but they could be putting on a show. So, just make sure you’re comfortable with any possible fallout from getting funky with them. And if they’re pressuring you to do anything that is making you uncomfortable this could be a red flag warning sign, and better be safe than sorry and rather terminate interactions.
Try getting a gauge on someone. It’s difficult to evaluate someone to get a sense of their character, if you haven’t spent any or little time with them. One test is to watch what they do, not what they say. Also, pay attention to the little signs, like if they arrive on time for a date, and how they treat and talk about people.
2. Consent Only if You Feel Comfortable
Never give into pressure or guilt-tripping if you are feeling uncomfortable. If your gut-feeling and intuition is telling you something feels off then rather listen to it, instead of living with regret later. You have to ultimately be responsible for what you put out there.
Only share what you are comfortable with. If you decide you want to explore sexting with the person, then decide how far you want to take things. Some light flirting and foreplay can be exciting. You don’t have to go full X-rated if you don’t want to. You can then decide if you want sexting activities to progress as you get to know a person better, and see that they treat you decently and you trust them.
3. Set Some Ground Rules Before Starting
Everyone has different expectations, and you can’t assume to know these. Some people might be very safe and never save or screenshot anything, and some might create a collection. So, its always a good idea to discuss terms that you both are comfortable with before you start.
4. Where and When to Sext
You might feel like being playful, but be careful about sending sexy material to your partner at work. Also, obviously never use a company phone or email.
Watch out for what you are sending and receiving in public. Look out for what you are opening in a public space, like working space or home you are sharing with other people. You want to preserve you and your partner’s dignity.
Don’t send sexy material while under the influence or in an emotional way. It might seem like a hot idea to send your partner a sexy message or nude pic while out drinking at a club or party, to show you are thinking about them and miss them. But remember your inhibitions are down, and you are not as in control as when you’re sober, and you might send something you’re not actually comfortable with when you sober up. You might even make a mistake and end up sending pics to the wrong person or sending something which gives away your identity. So, just don’t send something you’ll end up regretting later down the line.
5. Sending Nudes
There are obvious risks attached to when you send nudes. If you are comfortable doing this, then you must make sure you are taking precautions. You’ll probably be sending nudes to someone you know; a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or partner. It’s a very risky idea to send nudes to a person you don’t know well or only know online, because you might just know their online persona, and they are essentially a stranger.
Following some guidelines will help you remain safe and protect your dignity. If you decide to send nudes, don’t show your face where you can be identified. There are unfortunately some sick people out there who will post nudes online or show their friends. Celebrity hacks and leaks show you that unscrupulous people who are adept with technology can even hack your phone.
Even if you are sending something to a trusted partner, it doesn’t afford them the right to expect anything from you. Share only what you are comfortable with. Ensure you give the recipient a heads-up before sending, to ensure they don’t open the message at work or in public, as both of you wouldn’t want a third-party viewing. There are always levels; you might not feel comfortable sharing a full nude but you might find it steamy to share a lingerie pic, bikini, or pic with just a few buttons of clothing undone. After all, leaving a little to the imagination is always enticing…
6. Device Settings
Check and know your device settings. Technology has been set up to make things as convenient as possible. This includes being able to access your photos from anywhere, and it can be difficult to delete from multiple devices. Disable Google Photos and iCloud auto-backup, to avoid highly personal info from being uploaded to the internet. Also be aware of having multiple Apple devices on the same account, which can mean multiple people having access to your information.
Make certain you are using a secure app. It’s known that messaging companies can scan and save messages through the use of bots. And a hack of one of these companies’ cloud services could lead to some very sensitive content leaking out into the public domain. Rather use an app that encrypts messages. Use Whatsapp with backup turned off or Facebook Messenger in private mode.
Deleting and Tidying up After
Make sure you delete any nude pics off your phone, and from everywhere. For example, Apple doesn’t delete your photos immediately, but rather they are moved to a “recently deleted” folder, and then removed after a month. Another common mistake is neglecting to empty the trash folder, but this is subject to change depending on your device. The best idea is to check how your device gets rid of deleted content.
When it comes to deleting online, your images can end up in multiple places, if your device is set to backup automatically to Google photos or iCloud. This makes deleting anything harder, and increases the chances of someone having access who you would prefer didn’t. Rather just check all the devices, computers, and phones with the same account.
When it comes to keeping and saving messages and photos, rather do it responsibly and carefully. Save them in a hidden folder and keep them off the cloud, and perhaps stop the folder from being saved on backups. If you really want to take precautions, store the content on a USB stick kept in a safe place.
Just remember – Practice safe sexting out there!!!