Addicted To Sexting…what is it?
It’s not uncommon to go out to a local restaurant and see 10 people sitting at a table all interacting with their phones instead of one another.
It’s bizarre, but a harsh reality.
The most recent statistic states that 81% of Americans are smartphone owners.
I can only assume the other 19% are incapable of this type of advanced technology, but it’s hard to imagine who.
My three year old navigates my phone like a whiz. Heck, my one year old even understands the basics.
We even group types of people: iphone users and android folk.
The latter the superior. Duh ?
Let’s be real though, it is misleading to call it a phone.
A more accurate description would be “an everything device.”
We use it for:
- Surfing the web
Yet another activity has become immensely popular: sexting.
Sexting Is No Big Deal
74% of Americans have openly admitted to sexting. I can only imagine that this number has risen exponentially since the pandemic.
To be frank, nine out of ten times sexting is harmless. Not unlike sexual intercourse, as long it’s among consensual adults – no harm, no foul. Right?
A subset of the population is addicted to sex. Researchers estimate it’s roughly 3-5% of the population.
It’s a brutal addiction, wreaking havoc on the addict and all who come in contact with them. The shame and guilt associated with the illness are ineffable – it’s truly a heartbreaking tragedy.
But what about sexting? Isn’t this route somewhat of a harm reduction option? Unfortunately, for sex addicts, this line of reasoning is simply a rationalization.
The Biggest Sexting Myth
This is bar none the most common response from people who engage in sexting.
To be candid, the same is true for drinking and gambling.
Nonetheless, for a subset of people it’s not only harmful but unbelievably destructive. Gambling addiction and alcoholism are pretty out in the open, but sexual addiction isn’t discussed enough.
Unfortunately, without the discussion no educational and preventional measures can be taken.
So I’m trying to start the discussion here.
Sexting: the act of sending sexual.or explicit messages through text messaging.
As technology advances, sexting isn’t just messages. Now includes images, videos, voice recordings, gifs, etc.
Game on! You see how this slope can get slippery?
It used to be “phone sex.”
Phone sex is eerily similar to sexting, only it’s less secretive and convenient. As the story goes, you’d usually give out your number, arrange a time to speak, and then simply fantasize vocally with the other person on the line.
Sexting Is Super Accessible
This is sexting’s selling point.
It’s super secretive and off the radar.
You can do it anytime, anywhere, with seemingly anyone.
Moreover, with biometric security, you’re not really fearful of being found out.
Hell, there are even apps that exist to mask your phone number so you can be completely inconspicuous.
Consequently, it can be done anytime, anywhere, with anyone!
A common perspective of sexting is that it’s personalized porn, particularly if the other party is willing to send explicit images and videos.
Is Sexting Really That Bad Though?
Sexting can be an incredibly useful sexual outlet for long-distance relationships. It can keep partners engaged and intimate even in their physical absence.
Additionally, it’s a pastime. Some people use it for fun and to find new partners. Apps like Tinder and Grindr make it possible to have messages going with multiple partners simultaneously.
As I already noted, for most individuals this activity is harmless. It’s pleasurable, profitable, entertaining, and rewarding.
So, Am I Addicted To Sexting?
It’s not uncommon for people to question “How do I know if I’m addicted to sexting?”
Fortunately, must people are not addicted. Just as most individuals are not addicted to sex, pornography, or gambling.
Nonetheless, most experts categorize sexting addiction under the sexual addiction umbrella – so, it’s a behavioral addiction.
As with all addictions, the brain triggers various chemicals during the act which produce a type of high or euphoria, this in turn reinforces the activity.
Moreover, over time as the act is chronically used, the individual develops a tolerance that leads to more and more and more.
Eventually, this usually leads to various other behavioral addictions.
And the spiral can seemingly go infinitely down if not curbed.
How You Know Your Sexting Is An Addiction
Just like porn or any sex addiction, you can determine if sexting is an issue by the consequences it’s causing in your life.
- Is it interfering with your family routine?
- Is it affecting your personal relationships?
- Is it causing anxiety or depression?
- Do you tend to get preoccupied and obsessed with it or the anticipation of it?
- Is it causing you to be unproductive?
- Does it place you in an unresourceful mental state?
Some Examples Of Sexting Addiction:
- Spending more time with strangers rather than intimate relationships and connections with friends and family.
- Failing an exam because you spent all your hours sexting rather than studying.
- Missing days of work because you’re up all night sexting.
- Keeping sexting a secret, behind your spouse’s back, which could result in destruction of the relationship.
The Telltale Sign You Have Sauntered Unto Addictive Soil: sexting numerous partners at the same time with zero intention of developing any semblance of a personal and intimate relationship.
In reality, sexting is usually par for the modern dating scene course.
This is particularly true when you meet someone new or even more so if you meet them online. It’s just the natural progression of things.
But if you look for individuals just to sext, with no other agenda then getting your little sexual fix in, this is likely a massive red flag – you’re probably hooked
What To Do (How To Cope With A Sexting Addiction)
Sexting, just like any sexual addiction, is classified as a behavioral addiction.
What Is A Behavioral Addiction?
A Behavioral Addiction (or impulse-control disorder), is delineated by the National Institutes of Health as “behaviors… which produce short-term reward that may engender persistent behavior despite knowledge of adverse consequences, i.e., diminished control over the behavior.”
Some of the most common behavioral addictions are:
- Compulsive Gambling Disorder–Gambling Addiction
- Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder–Porn and Sex Addiction
- Compulsive Eating Disorder (or Binge Eating Disorder)–Food Addiction
- Compulsive Spending Disorder–Buying Addiction
With this in mind, sexting addiction can be immensely difficult to stop.
As with all behavioral addictions, it taps into the pleasure centers of the brain and “hijacks” brain processing.
In short time, choice becomes severely inhibited, which lead addiction researcher Dr. Kevin McCauley to label addiction as “a disease of choice.”
Another factor, besides the colossal brain processing malfunction, is the fact that it’s difficult to make a clean break with the smartphone – if even realistically possible.
So, you’re stuck with one of the sources of addiction.
What do you do? How can you get control over your sexting addiction?
Here are some suggestions, however, I highly recommend consulting a professional if you find your quality of life diminishing. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Nonetheless, you can begin by:
- Deleting all dating apps
- Erasing messaging apps
- Sift through your contact list and delete any sexting partners
- Keep the phone away when you’re in your bedroom getting ready to sleep.
- Engage in various hobbies or out door activities (check out how to handle boredom in sobriety)
- Return to healthier pleasures i.e. watching your favorite movie or TV show, going out to restaurants with friends
- Go socialize more!
- Get totally honest with someone and leverage accountability
- Go to Sexaholics Anonymous meetings
Remember: If you are dealing with a serious addiction problem, see professional help.