You’re guilty, even if you would never admit it. You heard the warnings and watched the public scandals, yet you wanted to try it. Late that night, you tried to fight the urge, but finally gave into temptation. You took a deep breath, steeled your nerves...and sent that risqué text.

 

You’re not alone in making that choice. Sexting, the art and practice of sending x-rated text messages or pictures, has become a widespread cultural phenomenon. Having long lost any initial shock value, these explicit messages have become a common occurrence on phones across the nation.


Of course, these messages can and have led to some embarrassing situations. Pictures can end up posted on the Internet, and texts could be shared without consent, giving the public such fascinating sagas as Anthony Weiner’s multiple sexting scandals or Scarlett Johansson’s private nude photos.

 

Even with these risks, there are many reasons that sexting has become so popular. Texting has nearly replaced traditional phone calls in casual settings, making the naughty phone call just as passé. It is a great way to explore sexual preferences with a newer lover or share fantasies with your long-term partner. For busy couples, it can serve as an excellent form of foreplay that can stretch throughout an entire work day.


A first-timer might think he or she is immune to the consequences of sexting, but there are those of us out there who have already learned some hard lessons during a few ménages-a-text over the years, some of which have ended in anxiety and embarrassment. So, before describing exactly what color your undergarments are or snapping a shot of your sexier body parts, we advise you follow a few simple do’s and don’ts that can enhance your experience while still protecting your privacy (and privates).

 

DO choose your partner well.

A great rule of thumb to follow is if you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it on your phone. While forwarding your fantasies to your attractive co-worker may seem like a good idea at the time, you might regret those steamy sexts in the morning when you have to make eye contact in the staff meeting. Oh, and another rule to follow? Sexting your ex is not a good idea - ever.

 

DON’T judge.

Sharing sexual fantasies can be a huge risk, and requires trust on both ends. Even if your partner shares something that isn’t your cup of tea, encourage and reward them for sharing. If you can’t think of a response, try sending a smiley face to show them that you’re still involved and listening. Also, when your partner’s autocorrect decides to interfere, give him or her a second before correcting the mistake - unless he or she actually meant to type “duck.”


DO take it slow.

That guy or girl that you just met in a bar did seem cute, but it might not be best to ask to see a picture of his or her O-face right after getting a phone number. Even with a long-term partner, jumping immediately into a description of where and how you want them can be jolting. These steamy conversations should happen naturally, and have a lot of foreplay. The best course of action is to flirt with a purpose. Know where you want the conversation to end up, and take your time getting there. Your partner’s participation and trust should be earned, and you’ll have a better experience for it.

 

DON’T overuse your emoticons.

A sexy wink or kissy face is cute from time to time, and can help when you need a second to plot your next move, but emojis can be overused quickly. Sexting should include participation from both partners, just like in the bedroom, and a smiley face used too often could seem like you aren’t as involved as the other person. Use your words, and you’ll receive a similar response in turn.


DO be detailed.

A boring sext session is one without specifics. These messages already face the challenge of eliminating touch and sound, so let your partner know the particulars. You should include exactly where you are imagining your scenario, how you want the situation to play out, and what you’re doing during the conversation. You don’t need to be a fantastic writer to make this a memorable time. Remind yourself that this is about creating a fantasy for you both to enjoy, and those details could make or break the big moment.

 

DON’T send that picture right away.

Nude pictures are often a staple of the sext, but can put you in a vulnerable position for the future. Even apps like SnapChat, which is designed to give seconds-long glances at a photo, can be hacked and the photos saved against your wishes. Unless you truly trust your partner to never share the picture, don’t include your face or any identifying marks, such as tattoos or birthmarks. He or she will just have to make do with the other body parts you decide to photograph.

 

DO wash your hands afterwards.

Trust us. Your phone will appreciate it.

 

Following these guidelines can help create an experience that you and your partner will find mind-blowingly maddening. In fact, the only way it could be better is if you two were actually together.