Is Sexting Healthy or Harmful?
Sexting may have cost Anthony Weiner his marriage and relationship with his family.
In a recent article by CNN, sexting for at least the third time we know of, has created significant negative consequences in his life.
So we ask the question: Is sexting healthy?
The answer, like most things in life is, well maybe, maybe not.
As sex addiction experts in the Dallas area, we deal with this issue frequently and everyone wants to know the answer.
So let’s look a little closer, no pun intended.
Is The Behavior Healthy?
To be healthy behavior, it seems sexting would not be hidden from others — like a wife or partner. The behavior would be affirming, nurturing, and relationship enhancing. Unhealthy compulsive sexting on the other hand, would likely have negative consequences to the sexter (Great New Word!). In a committed relationship, where a couple is being romantic, sexting could be part of courtship and enhance the relationship — be part of arousal, romance and intimacy. But wait a moment, what makes sexting harmful? Sexting — or exhibitionism?
Is The Behavior Harmful?
If there are negative consequences which increase over time, more risky and harmful behaviors needed to feel the same way, or there is an inability to stop the behavior, then we would say the sexting is harmful.
Exhibitionism — a perversion of healthy courtship, and of flirtation and demonstration, is an attempt to get sexual gratification by the exposure of one’s genitals. At Lifeworks Recovery, we are trained to look at a persons behavioral history, along with their trauma and attachment history, to then make an informed decision about whether or not the persons behavior is compulsive, impulsive or not. In the case of sexting, whether it is part of healthy courtship, attraction, flirtation and demonstration, or a perversion of this healthy process for the gratification and shock value of the behavior.
Definitely consent plays a part, however, the bigger question is the behavior compulsive or part of sexual hyperarousal disorder?
When people are sexually compulsive or sexually addictive, we will find certain historical indicators called collateral indicators.
Some examples of collateral indicators are:
- There are severe consequences of the sexual behavior.
- The sexter could feel depression related to sexual acting.
- Possibly the depression related to sexual aversion, or the control side of the cycle.
- We could find a history of sexual abuse.
- Maybe a history of physical abuse.
- Emotional abuse is a common finding in compulsive sex.
- The dexter describes sexual life in self-medicating terms, such as to sleep or reduce anxiety.
- We learn that there is a persistent pursuit of high-risk or self-destructive behavior.
- We observe sexual arousal exists to high-risk or self-destructive behavior. (Texting with our son next to us perhaps)
- Often, compulsive sexuality meets the diagnostic criteria for other addictive disorders.
- Many will have some addiction interaction, simultaneously using sexual behavior in concert with other addictions.
- Sexually addicted and compulsive people will have a history of deception around sexual behavior.
- We will learn or observe other members of the family are addicts, possibly for generations.
- There will be extreme self-loathing because of sexual behavior, sometimes out of their awareness.
- The dexter won't have intimacy with others, and no intimate relationships that are not sexual.
- Sexually compulsive or hyper sexually aroused persons often come from a chaotic family system.
- Unhealthy sexting usually brings people in crisis because of sexual matters.
- Sexual behaviors that are unhealthy may develop from a rigid and inflexible family system.
- We often hear and observe through history an experiences of diminished pleasure for same sexual experiences.
Having 6 or more of these collateral indicates tells us there may be a problem with compulsive sexual behavior. Only a trained professional can help assess, but if these fit for you Contact Us Today.
Is An Attachment Disorder Present?
When our parents attune to us in a warm, caring and consistent way, we develop a secure bond attachment with them and are secure in our relationships as adults. Therefore, securely attached people aren’t likely to be sexting in a manner that is harmful, and are not likely to sext outside of a committed relationship. Insecurely attached adults tend to be highly suspicious and anxious in close relationships, and have difficulty being romantic in the first place.
Taking into consideration a persons behavioral history, their collateral indicators, trauma history and attachment styles will assist in understanding whether sexting is healthy or not.
In conclusion, sexting could be part of a healthy relationship between two secure adults. While a rather new addition to sexuality, sexting is becoming socially acceptable. It also can be very harmful when driven from compulsion and insecurity, and the negative consequences are staggering — loss of career, legal issues, loss of marriage, family and friends.