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What your sext is really saying

Tuesday 21st June 2016

You know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing.
 

You are drifting off to sleep on a peaceful Tuesday night when hear your phone buzz. It’s that guy. You see it is a picture. You open the picture. The lighting is unflattering. The composition is awful. Even the subject itself appears unprepared. It doesn’t have a caption but if it did it would surely say LOOK AT MY GROSS DICK.

It’s a tale as old as time, but why?

Even less surprisingly, it seems that late night dick-pic dude is not as cocky (harhar) as he may appear.

A new study published by The Journal Of Sex Research aims to explain what is going on.

Surveying 459 unmarried, undergraduate University students, aged 18-25, researchers from California State University and Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (who notably only used heterosexual participants) queried these “emerging adults” about their misadventures with technology as part of romantic relationships.

Unsurprisingly they found that sexting - the art of sending sexually suggestive texts, emojis, videos or photos on one’s cell-phone - is on the rise. Even less surprisingly, it seems that late night dick-pic dude is not as cocky (harhar) as he may appear.

Senders of explicit texts and pictures, the study found, are likely to be anxious, insecure and vulnerable to peer pressure. A prototypical sexter, it seems, is in possession of a winning combination of “low levels of attachment avoidance” and “high levels of fear of negative evaluation”, meaning they have fewer boundaries and more insecurities. Sexting may be an expression of fear and anxiety, a cry for social validation as well as a desire to please.

Let’s revise that caption. Maybe it says OH GOD PLEASE LIKE ME.

Sending a picture of your squishy, vulnerable, naked body to the object of your affection may seem like a rather bold way to seek their approval, but the study also indicates a cultural shift: with social acceptance of sexting growing, potential benefits and positive outcomes seemingly outweigh perceptions of personal risk for young people.

But before we begin ringing the millennial moral panic cow bell once more, things are not all bad for the sauciest generation yet. Whether it is motivated by anxiety or not, sexting generally expresses a desire to satisfy and fulfill the needs of your partner, while those “low levels of attachment avoidance” also equate to greater relationship security and greater attunement between partners. As such, the study finds, sexting may increasingly be a normal part of a modern, supportive romantic relationship.

So what is that dick-pic really saying?  

Maybe, just maybe, it says I LOVE YOU AND SUPPORT YOU PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.

A tale as old as time.



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Katie is an idealistic journalism student with a heart of gold (and an MA in film and media studies).
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