Sexting is a delicate balancing act, one that requires the sexter to navigate the grey area between sexy and weird. A million questions run through your mind: should you call your penis your "dick," or is that too porn-y? Is role play on the table, or nah? What if you're being catfished? And this fear is understandable: the last thing you want to get in response to an earnest attempt at a dirty text is an "LOL, WTF?"
That said, if you adhere to proper sexting etiquette (no weird props or dim lighting, please!), sexting can pay off big time. According to a study published in the journal Computers In Intimate Behavior, half of those with committed partners reported that sexting had a positive outcome on their "sexual and emotional relationships."
"By taking and sharing the most intimate parts of our bodies with our mate, we heighten our awareness of what we have to offer—and what there is to receive,” marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. told MensHealth.com.
How to send a great sext
First and foremost, sexting should always be a two-way street, because unsolicited dick pics are never sexy. So before you get your wang ready for its closeup, ask your partner if they're comfortable with it. Keep the conversation light by asking, "Do you want to exchange photos?" or, "Have you ever sexted? Is that something you're down to try?" If they are, be mindful of what they are and aren't cool with. No pics, all texts? Great. Call yourself Sext-speare and get to writing.
Once you and your partner have decided it's game on, you might be at a loss for what exactly to say to come across as cool and sexy, as opposed to creepy and awkward. Call it writer's (cock) block. Just remember things your partner likes to do in bed. What are their turn-ons? What's something they did in bed that turns you on just thinking about it?
If you don't know what they want or where to start, ask: communication is key. You can keep the tone silly and playful and fun. Humor can help diminish awkwardness, especially at first.
That's why we teamed up with the sexual education online resource O.school to create some ideas for sexts based on their research. Because you know what they say: a picture speaks a thousand words.
When you're stuck at the office but you can't stop thinking about her, uh, assets:
Nothing is more of a turn-on for your partner than knowing that they turn you on. "If words of affirmation are her love language, let her know how distracting you think her body is," suggests Christina Cerqueira, the director of digital media at O.School. Let her know you have her boobs on the brain.
When your partner sends you a killer sext and you want to show him exactly how it makes you feel:
Oh, wow. Your partner really killed it with that video – and you want to respond to his generosity in kind. Even better, a condom is included, just so you won't forget when you see each other IRL.
When you're ready for things to get a bit slippery:
"Lube makes everything feel better: fingering, toys, vaginal or anal penetration," Cerqueira says. This applies to women in particular: according to a 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, however, 30 percent of women aged 18-59 didn't feel their natural lube was enough during their last sexual encounter. So let your partner know you want to get wet and wild tonight. They'll thank you for it later.
When you're ready to take a trip down South:
We can't stress the importance of cunnilingus enough, because "nearly 70 percent of people with clits need or prefer clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm," says Cerqueira. Show your partner you have the skills with this GIF, because honestly, the peach emoji + tongue is extremely 2015.
When you want to let them know you had a great time last night:
If you had a good time last night, shoot them this GIF with a quick "#justsaying" to let them know. You've got nothing to lose — and it might just make their day.
This article originally appeared in Men's Health US.