GENEVA — Think you know everything there is to know about the person you've long shared your life with? Try sexting. You might have a few surprises — along with a few flashes of pure heat.
The act of sending cheeky texts to one's partner is, admittedly, nothing new. Sexting has been around as long as texting (starting in the 1990s), just as pornographic movies arrived with the advent of cinema.
And yet it's never too late to get with the program, so to speak. A 2015 study presented during a psychology convention in Toronto suggested that couples who "sext" have a happier sex life.
Stéphanie (not her real name) says she began sexting about five years ago, during a rough patch in her then 15-year marriage. At first she directed her risqué messages to strangers. But eventually she decided to try them out on her husband. In doing so, she found it to be a vehicle for creating fantasies — "a way to spice things up without being too direct," she says.
"I prefer a message saying "you taste delicious," to one that says, "I loved putting my tongue in your ..."" Stéphanie explains. "If it's subtle and well-written, it excites my imagination — a lot more than pictures."
Sexting isn't a miracle solution to the crises of real couples. "But it is very useful against desire disorders, whether it's for men or women," explains Swiss psychologist and sexologist Patrizia Anex.
"When couples tell me they don't see each other enough, I encourage them to send each other sexts and pictures," she adds. "The main bridge is feeding eroticism. Unfortunately, couples don't know how to do that. They're too often in an on/off mode with regards to sex. Sexts build a bridge between these two moments, keeping the sexual tension alive."
Anex is so positive about the powers of sexting that she recommends it to patients, even to seniors. "People used to write each other letters," she says. "This is a natural extension of that. Only instead of a letter that takes time to arrive, here the eroticism is immediate. Some couples rediscover each other this way."
The sexologist is sometimes amazed by the erotic-poetic talents of her patients. "If we made a collection of their sexts, we'd have some brilliant literature," she says. "There are some romantic and some very crude things. And if you drop a dirty word in a pretty message, it creates surprise and excitement."
Nourishing a fantasy is one thing. Acting it out is another. And this can be a source of terrible frustration, which is why it's best if partners are on the same wavelength. If one half of the couple feels harassed by insistent erotic messages, the sexts will of course have a negative effect.
Real life also has a way sometimes of killing the kinkiness. "You can plan all you want, imagine all the things you'll do once the children go to bed," says Stephanie. "But in the evening, the children can be a nuisance. You're tired..."
Another potential problem, at least in the case of sexting parents, are curious children who might stumble upon compromising messages. The solution: installing an app such as Couple, a messaging platform between two people that is protected by an access code. And for those who fear leaks and hacks, the protected messaging service Threema encrypts all communications.
So there you have it. No more excuses to make your partner's screen blush!