This Is When Sexting Can Backfire & Actually Ruin Your Relationship

by Kristine Fellizar
BDG Media, Inc.

Nowadays, sexting within a relationship feels like it's the norm. In fact, the 2017 SKYN Condoms Millennial Sex Survey found that 62 percent of millennials say they sext at least once a month, and 48 percent say they do it at least once a week. But just because it's common and you may do it frequently, it doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is any better because of it. As a new research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found, too much sexting can actually mean trouble for your relationship, even if it boosts your sex life.

But Susan Golicic, PhD, Certified Relationship Coach and Co-founder of Uninhibited Wellness, who was not part of the study, tells Bustle that sexting can be great, as long as other areas of the relationship are too. "If a couple is getting along and things are flowing well, sexting can be a great way to start charging the energy — preliminary foreplay for later. This helps the relationship as it lets the other know they are not only being thought of, but desired.

But Golicic also believes it can go the other way around. If you and your partner are in rough place, having troubles, or you're in the middle of a fight, sexting can hurt. "It can make the partner feel that they or the current issue is not being taken seriously, or that the partner doesn't care and just wants to brush it under the rug with sex," Golicic says.

Because many couples today sext, researchers from the University of Alberta wanted to see if it was healthy or problematic for relationships. They analyzed data of 615 Americans and Canadians from various age groups who were in committed heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Here's what this study found.


There Are Four Distinct Groups Of Sexters

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Previous studies on sexting only categorized sexters into three groups: low, medium, or high. But based on the data, researchers categorized sexters into four groups: word-only sexters (14.5 percent), frequent sexters (8.5 percent), hyper sexters (5.5 percent), and non-sexters (71.5 percent), which made up the largest percentage of people in this study. Keep in mind, they didn't limit the age group to just older teens and young adults. So the high number of non-sexters may have been a result of that.


Frequent And Hyper Sexters Are More Sexually Satisfied

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

As Golicic says, sexting can contribute to greater sexual satisfaction because it "charges energy" and can be used as foreplay. So it's not too surprising the study found that people who send a combination of sexy words, photos, and videos more frequently were found to be much more sexually satisfied than those who only sent words or nothing at all.


But Frequent And Hyper Sexters Scored Poorly In Commitment, Fidelity, And Relationship Security

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

While passion and sexual chemistry is great, it's not everything. According to the study, frequent and hyper sexters scored pretty poorly on other relationship variables like attachment security, commitment, ambivalance, and conflict in comparison to word-only and non-sexters. That means, they had lower levels of commitment to their relationship, were more ambivalent about whether or not the relationship will last, felt less secure overall, and were more likely to show "infidelity-related behavior" on social media.


And Frequent & Hyper Sexters Spent More Time On Their Phone Vs. Face-To-Face Time With Their Partner

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Frequent and hyper sexters were also more likely to report to using their phones for texting and e-mailing while they're spending face-to-face time with their partner.

Based on their findings, Adam Galovan, the lead author of the study told, "Sexting doesn't seem to be a feature of a healthy relationship." While the research isn't too promising, Golicic disagrees with Galovan's conclusion.

"This is a matter of correlation versus causation and stretching results beyond what is actually surveyed," she says. "I do agree that the other factors reported contribute to an unhealthy relationship, but sexting isn't directly hurting it. If there are troubles or conflict in the relationship (for example, high use of technology rather than interpersonal communication), then sexting may be perceived as superficial and a lack of caring about the partner and/or relationship. But there is no evidence that sexting directly causes the lower levels of commitment and poor communication."

So Is Sexting Good Or Bad For Your Relationship?

According to the most recent study, sexting can allude to problems in certain areas of your relationship, like commitment and communication. But other studies have found the opposite to be true.

Another 2017 study published also published in the journal of Computers in Human Behavior found that sexting may be a sign of relationship commitment.

The most recent study found that those who sext frequently are most satisfied with their sex life and a 2015 Drexel University study found the same to be true, especially for those in committed relationships.

As Golicic says, it really just depends on how your relationship is doing and what your motivation for sexting is. If everything's going well and sexting is your way to get your partner ready for later, then by all means, sext away.