Online Program

Adult sexting: Couple experiences and therapeutic possibilities

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Jimmie Manning, Ph.D., Department of Communication, Northern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
Although sexting is often framed in media accounts and everyday talk as a problematic and/or frivolous activity, participants in this research study offer evidence that extends the building body of research pointing to positive qualities of adult sexting. Interview and survey data from 78 age-, sexual orientation-, and ethnically-diverse adults were analyzed using contrapuntal analysis to consider the personal benefits and limitations of sexting. Results indicate four tensions illustrating the opportunities and risks associated with adult sexting. Specifically, adult sexters described two tensions with partners: one where novelty is appreciated but where crossing over to grotesque behaviors and suggestions is a possibility; and another where sexual fantasy was positively explored but where misunderstandings between fantasy and reality were possible. Participants also described a tension between the personal pleasure they found with sexting and the shame invoked by culture as well as the possibility that their private interactions could become public. In addition to the practical benefits sexting can offer relationships, participant accounts also indicate sexting practices might prove beneficial to both sex therapy and sex education practices as well. Integration into existing sex therapy models is explored.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify benefits adult couples report as a result of their personal sexting practices. Explain the fears adults feel when enacting sexting practices. Evaluate how sexting fits into existing therapeutic models.

Keyword(s): Sexuality, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted multiple research studies related to relationships and sexuality, including two studies of sex education, five studies of sexual health, five studies of sexual identity, and five studies of sex talk in relationships. These studies have been published in 23 peer-reviewed journal articles during the past three years. I have considerable experience and training in studying sexual communication and its health implications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.