Sexting Is About More Than Just Sex, Research Finds

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant
Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Woman In Pajamas on Her Phone

Image by Evil Pixels Photography / Stocksy

Technology has fundamentally changed so much about how we communicate, and that includes how we’re communicating sexually.

We can all think of a time when what we said didn’t completely match what we meant. And research suggests that same pattern can be observed in sexting — two-thirds of the time, to be exact.

A newly released study found two-thirds of people who sext are actually doing it for non-sexual reasons.

Three main motivators

The research was conducted by the Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Sexual Behavior Lab in the Texas Tech University Department of Psychological Sciences, in an effort to find the most common motivator for sexting.

Professor Joseph M. Currin Ph.D., and doctoral student Kassidy Cox, who carried out the study, had previously identified the following as the top three reasons people sext:

1. Sexting as foreplay for sexual behaviors later on

2. Sexting for the relationship reassurance they receive from their partner

3. Sexting with the expectation the favor will be returned later in a non-sexual way (such as a dinner date)

So this time around, when they specifically looked to find which of the three was the most common, they were surprised to see each reason received equal recognition.

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What they found

Looking at the responses of 160 participants between the ages of 18 and 69, none of the three reasons were listed more than the others, meaning the two non-sexual reasons actually account for 66% of sexts.

"It was intriguing that two-thirds of the individuals who engaged in sexting did so for non-sexual purposes," says Cox. "This may actually be demonstrating some individuals engage in sexting, but would prefer not to, but do so as a means to either gain affirmation about their relationship, relieve anxiety or get something tangible – non-sexual – in return."

Additionally, the study notes sexual orientation, gender, and age did not sway these findings.

Why does this matter?

"As [sexting] is becoming a more accepted method of communicating one's sexual desires, we wanted to highlight how adults utilize this behavior in their relationships," Currin notes. "This tells us that sexting among adults is an evolution of how we have communicated our sexual desires to our partners in the past."

And while it would appear sending sexts with non-sexual intentions is more common than we may have thought, these findings offer insight into the dynamics of modern love and communication.

So no matter how you feel about all the reasons to sext, keep them in mind the next time you find yourself sending or receiving one; there's a two out of three chance sex isn't the only element at play.

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