What is Sexting? Explain It Like I’m Five

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated December 7, 2023

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

What is sexting?

Sexting is composed of “sex” and “texting” and refers to exchanging erotic or explicit images, videos, or messages with a smartphone, tablet, computer or other electronic device.

Sexting fast facts

  • Sexting can be as easy as sending emojis with sexual meaning.

  • Sexting can be an exciting way to boost the intimacy in a new, or existing relationship. 

  • Sending explicit messages without consent can be illegal in some countries.

  • When someone sends you explicit images, it could be a red flag, or a flirting attempt. 

  • AI bots are the easiest and safest way to sext.

In its most basic form, sexting consists of text messages and emojis. Photograph: Liddy Tyler via FapHouse

What are the different types of sexting?

Sexting messages can have different formats:

  • Texts. The length can vary and is not always dirty. “Send pics”, for instance, is a common way to ask for explicit images.
  • Acronyms. These are combinations of letters and numbers with an explicit meaning. For example CU46 = “see you for sex”, GNOC = “get naked on cam”, and GYPO = “get your pants off”.
  • Images. The most common ones are nude or suggestive selfies. But they can also be downloaded from, for instance, porn sites.
  • Videos. These can be recorded with a smartphone or a link to an online porn video. 
  • GIFs. These are short animated images which can easily be shared on messenger apps because they are smaller than videos.
  • Emojis. Icons can refer to private parts or sexual acts. For example, an eggplant may symbolize a penis and a peach can refer to a vagina.

What are the reasons for sexting?

People share sexual content for many reasons. The intentions can be good or bad. 

  • People in a relationship may sext to compensate for not being physically together. 
  • Sexting can be a digital foreplay to excite a partner before meeting them.
  • People can send erotic or explicit images to seduce potential dating partners. 
  • Teenagers are more sensitive to peer pressure and that can be a reason for them to share nudes.
  • Sharing explicit images of others is often a way to harass the depicted people. This is called revenge porn, which is illegal in many countries.
  • Sexting can also be used to extort people. Perpetrators can blackmail victims with real or fake porn.

What are the benefits of sexting?

Sexting with the consent of both parties can have many advantages. 

  • Messaging is an easy way to share one’s sexual desires and fantasies, even when partners are not physically together.
  • Sexting can be a way to talk about taboos without facing each other directly.
  • Sharing erotic content can improve the level of intimacy between partners.
  • It can lead to a stronger bond between partners.
  • Sharing is caring. This also goes for the physical and sexual needs of partners.

What are the risks of sexting?

Sexting can be exciting, but it also has many risks.

  • Third parties may get access by accident, or on purpose, to explicit messages, nudes, sex tapes, and more.
  • Sexting with someone trustworthy does not mean that this person shares the same sexual fantasies. It can lead to breaking bonds instead of strengthening them.
  • Sharing explicit content of others without their consent can be illegal in certain regions.
  • When a relationship ends, it’s hard to control what happens with nudes or sex videos. Some people use the shared content as revenge porn, or to extort their ex-partner.

AI bots are a safe way to sext because users don’t risk getting sued for harassment or non-consensual pornography. Photograph: PornJourney

How can you sext safely?

To sext safely, apply the following tips:

  • Never sext with strangers.
  • Only sext between adults. 
  • Make agreements with your sexting partner before sharing explicit messages, pictures, and videos.
  • Only sext with personal devices and on Wi-Fi networks you trust.
  • Double check to whom you are sending explicit messages to. 
  • Install anti-virus software and update it regularly.
  • When a relationship ends, request the other party to delete your explicit images.
  • Keep your passwords safe and change them regularly.
  • Use a PIN code or fingerprint to unlock your smartphone. 
  • Update software whenever a new version is released.
  • Do not share the passwords for your accounts, phone, computer, etc.
  • Use secure passwords for backups of your pictures or messages.

What does it mean when someone is sexting you?

When someone on a dating app sends unsolicited explicit images or videos, that usually means they are not interested in a long-term relationship. It is often a sign that they are looking for a one night stand (ONS), or a casual sexual relationship.

Sexting between people who know each other for a longer time, can mean the same. Or it can be a first move towards an intimate relationship. In that case, it is a flirting technique. 

The sender may feel insecure, impatient, or just assume that a sex message will serve as an ice breaker. However, that doesn’t mean that the receiver has to feel comfortable with it. In all cases, it is a good idea to ask someone what they wanted to achieve with an explicit message.

On some dating sites, it’s easier to find members that are open to sexting. Photograph: AdultFriendFinder

Is sexting a crime?

Sexting is not a crime when it happens between adults who share sexual content with both their consent. However, age and consent are not the only two conditions that need to be met. 

All the people depicted on explicit images, or videos, must have given their consent. If that is not the case, sexting can be a crime.

Sexting between minors, or an adult and a minor, can also be a criminal act. In some countries, there are strict laws that consider this as child pornography.

Is sexting cheating?

Sexting with somebody outside their relationship can be experienced as emotional cheating. A lot depends on the circumstances and the individuals that are involved.

If, for instance, emotional faithfulness is important to a person, sexting outside a relationship can hurt as much as physical betrayal.

The other party, however, can experience it as innocent and similar to watching porn. It gives a sexual thrill, but there is no physical intimacy.

What to do if someone sends inappropriate pictures?

If you receive explicit images, but you don’t like it, you can do the following:

  • Keep the evidence or make screenshots if the sender could remove the messages. This is, for instance, possible on WhatsApp or Telegram. 
  • Contact the police, or an organization that helps victims of non-consensual pornography. 
  • If the sender is somebody you know, you can ask them to stop sending unsolicited, explicit messages.
  • If you receive these messages on social media, you can report the sender. Most platforms have a helpdesk that can further investigate the case and take proper actions against the perpetrator.

Can AI characters sext?

Yes. AI apps, like DreamGF, PornJourney, and Candy AI can give users a human-like sexting experience. But they also differ in sexting with real persons.

  • AI apps can generate images, and sometimes movies, that completely fit with the fantasies of its users.
  • AI characters don’t have their own personalities and users can easily change them to act, for instance, shy, flirty, dominant…
  • AI sexting bots are always available and don’t ghost.
  • Sexting with AI doesn’t require consent from the characters.
  • AI characters can only have a virtual relationship and the shared sexual fantasies can never be fulfilled in reality.

AI sexting bots are trained to send explicit content on demand. Photograph: DreamGF

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