Sexting enhances sex lives, 88% of US adults have tried it - study

© Reuters
Researchers have correlated 'sexting' (sending or receiving sexually explicit messages, images through e-means, particularly between cell phones) with higher levels of sexual satisfaction. Couples who sext each other have better sex, a new study found.

More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the previous year, according to a new study from Drexel University’s Women’s Health Psychology Lab in Philadelphia.

“This research indicates that sexting is a prevalent behavior that adults engage in for a variety of reasons. These findings show a robust relationship between sexting and sexual and relationship satisfaction,” Emily Stasko, a clinical psychology doctoral student in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, has stated in her work.

Stasko and her co-author, Pamela Geller, an associate professor and director of the lab, have surveyed 870 participants living in the US and aged between 18 and 82. The challenge was to assess sexting behaviors, motives as well as sexual satisfaction in couples and individuals.

© Gary Hershorn

To start with participants (over half of them women) were asked if they had ever engaged in sexting.

The results showed that sexting behavior is common among American adults, with the majority (87.8 percent) of participants reporting having sexted in their lifetime. Over 82 percent reported sexting within the last year.

The majority of participants, nearly 75 percent, said they sexted in the context of a committed relationship, while 43 percent did so as part of a casual relationship. Additionally, the researchers found that greater levels of sexting were associated with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship.

Participants who identified as single (26 percent) had “significantly lower levels of sexual satisfaction than individuals who were casually dating or in a relationship.”

Surprisingly enough, the researchers concluded that greater levels of sexting were associated with relationship satisfaction for all but those who describe their relationship as being very committed” – for those individuals sexting proved to be unrelated to enhanced satisfaction levels.

The survey also sheds some light on the attitudes toward sexting. Researchers found that people who sexted more perceived such behavior as “fun and carefree” and had higher beliefs that sexting was in fact expected in their relationships.

While Stasko notes that sexting has received “growing attention as a risky activity, associated with numerous other sexual risk-taking behaviors” (such as unprotected sex), and negative health outcomes (such as sexually-transmitted infections), this approach, according to the researcher, fails to account for the potential positive effects of open sexual communication with a partner.

“Given the possible implications, both positive and negative, for sexual health, it is important to continue investigating the role sexting plays in current romantic and sexual relationships,” she wrote in the presentation of her work entitled ‘Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior’.

The study is currently being submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.