There are a few things in life that everyone over the age of 16 should be able to do: cook a few decent meals, navigate a new city without Google Maps, enjoy a hangover, and, bear with me here, send a decent sext. Anyone who thinks they'll be able to track down The One without knowing how to turn their phone into an object of lust has another thing coming. Sexting is practically a requirement for living in the 21st century, no longer the reserve of predatory creeps or girls who give HJs to exchange students, being able to communicate just how horny you are over iMessage or Snapchat is a life skill, and you're going to have to learn how to do it.
According to TIME magazine, four out of five college kids sext on the regular. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be certain, except death and taxes and that you will at some point be awake at 3 AM struggling to think of a fourth nongross synonym for vagina/penis." Frequent sexters are no longer just a bunch of teens furtively sending each other dick pics with the caption “u like? ;)”—the sexting landscape is now dotted with old marrieds, yuppies, and regular everyday humans like you and me.
Especially me. I do it a lot. So, on the off chance that you and I ever bump into each other in sext land, here's how to keep me interested.
DON'T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF
If you’re just starting out, three to four words are all you need. A length limit forces you to get straight to the point and eliminates the possibility of embarrassing yourself by using adjectives like “pulsing,” which makes your pussy or dick sound like the still-beating heart of a butchered mammal. I guess if you were really fucking twee, you could imagine your sext as the 21st-century equivalent of a candy love heart, but instead of "Fax Me" you’re writing, "I wanna fuck you in a bodega." If you’re still nervous or super stuck, just mash a bunch of buttons as though overwhelmed with desire. Or, IDK, hold the phone against your underwear and type with your pubic bone. "Asdaoh23rghhsdhudffffffffff." That sounds lustful, right?
It’s 2013, and I know you’re not typing out every letter individually on your Motorola Razr, but Y R U choosin 2 talk lik a tween? Who culd eva b trnd on by dis?? No one wants to be deciphering your sexual hieroglyphics when they could be quietly shifting in their lecture seat so the seam of their jeans hits things just right. “RU horny” is the text-message equivalent of giving someone a wedgy as a flirting tactic. It also implies there's a 14-year-old on the other end of the phone, which, again, is not ideal in this situation.
WATCH YOUR VISUALS
Guys: maybe don’t send your sext partner a close-up picture of your erect penis unless they have expressed an active interest in seeing a close-up picture of your erect penis. Most people don't really need an image of the isolated naked mole rat to get themselves off, and if it’s too early in the sexting process, it’s actually just very frightening. You know how people say actions speak louder than words? That is not true of sexting; sexting is like erotic literature, the pictures do it no justice.
The same goes for you ladies: that straight-up shot of a vag comes across more medical than saucy. Would you fuck someone in a onesie with a hole in it? No? So consider the bigger picture. Trust me, you’ll get better results from a pic of your full bod in some cute underwear.
Everyone: the recipient is almost certainly going to show this picture to at least one of their friends at some point. If you’re not OK with that, don’t include your face. If you look smoking hot, absolutely do. If Rihanna's going to, you might as well.
THERE ARE NO RULES
It hurts no one to make things up during a sexting sesh, and chances are they're returning the favor anyway. Technology allows you to turn “Just woke up in the bus depo :-(” to “Ooh I just got out of a hot bath...” in seconds. Abuse this power.
KEEP YOUR PRIVATES PRIVATE
It used to be a real concern that your ex could throw your nudie pics up on the internet as soon as they found out you were banging their best friend/sibling. Even storing sext pics on your phone was dangerous. My brother once accidentally projected a topless picture from my phone onto the ceiling above my grandma's head during Christmas dinner.
But now those days are behind us. Snapchat, which describes itself as a "new way to share moments with friends," allows you to send a photo or ten-second video to a single user or friend group, but it can’t be screengrabbed and it disappears after they’ve looked at it. Snapchat's website is very wholesome, but you know they know what you're up to. The reference to those "grainy" pictures in their About section is as transparent as the wet T-shirt in the picture you just sent your boyfriend.
COME vs. CUM
As with sex, so with sexts. The general tone of what you’re up to will be set by whether you’re using "come" or "cum" to talk fluids. "Come" is for gentlemen and ladies, long-term couples, and people who would describe themselves as “skilled at erotic massage.” "Cum" is for horny teens, pervs, your gross ex who has a new partner now, and pretty much anyone who’s going to be any fun to sext.
I’ve had sext sessions that have neared Real Physical Interaction levels of arousing, but if I was forced to read the messages I sent or received during these times an hour afterward, I would immediately fashion myself a suicide machine from whatever was nearby. Delete as you go, people, but remember, we all get pretty embarrassing when we sext, so don’t worry about it. If someone exposes just how filthy the inside of your brain is to your peers, simply own that shit. Chances are, people will think your shamelessness is arousing, and you'll be on the receiving end of yet more sexts. Everyone wins.
Double-check the recipient before you hit "send," please.
Follow Monica on Twitter: @monicaheisey
More helpful sex tips from VICE: