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Everything You Need To Know About Sending (And Receiving) Intimate Photos

Have you ever considered sending risky photos to the person that you're interested in? Or maybe you've been on the receiving end of NSFW pictures instead? There's a lot to consider in the intricate, modern world of sexting.

According to Psychology Today, the use of smartphones has made staying in communication with the people we care about easier than it's ever been. It's also given us the ability to "sext," or send messages and photos that are sexual in nature to romantic partners. A smartphone's features, such as large screens and fancy cameras, are a perfect combination for people who want to send flirty content back and forth. And in 2016, around 75% of young adults revealed that they'd participated in the sexting trend in some capacity (via Psychology Today).  

There are incredibly mixed opinions about the act of sexting (via Interview Area). Although many adults consider it a beneficial form of communication for romantic and sexual relationships, there are others who judge it negatively. While adults who are of legal age can come to their own conclusions, it's important to note that sexting is illegal, and potentially dangerous, for those who are underage. Before you consider sending and/or receiving intimate photos, here are some of the most critical factors you should pay attention to.

Sexting can spice up a stale relationship

If you feel like your relationship is getting a bit stale or boring, sending intimate pics might spice things up. Keep in mind that you should never feel pressured to send sexy photos, but if you do feel inclined to do so, it can reignite a dying flame between you and your partner. According to Today, sexting works in this capacity because it allows you to comfortably reveal your greatest fantasies and desires whenever the mood strikes, whether your partner is at work, out of town, or out with friends. It can be even more exciting, though, to send a sext while they're sitting right across from you at the dinner table.

Use sexting as a time to freely mention what you're excited to do sexually next time you're with your partner or to go over the highlights of your last encounter together (via Promescent). Those sexy messages accompanied by intimate pictures can turn up the heat on your relationship instantly.

Of course, sending sexy photos or messages might not save a relationship that is doomed to fail, but it's certainly worth a shot. If your partner feels like you've lost interest in them and that the relationship is no longer exciting, an unexpected intimate photo from you might just act as an eleventh-hour savior.

Long-distance couples can benefit from sexting

Sometimes there's absolutely no way to avoid a long-distance relationship. If your partner has a commitment in one city while you have obligations in another, long-distance dating might be the only way to go. For some people, the idea of a long-distance relationship simply isn't worth it. They would rather end things and meet someone new to date locally. For others, making a long-distance relationship work is something they're open to. For those in the latter category, one way to keep their long-distance relationship going strong is to send intimate pictures and messages to each other. 

According to Lasting the Distance, long-distance couples should discuss how they want to approach intimacy from their different locations because maintaining that connection is important in a healthy relationship. When it comes to sexting, specifically, their tips include knowing when the time is right, starting slow (the build-up matters!), and being descriptive. AutoStraddle describes three common narratives of long-distance sexting: Talking about sex you've already had, talking about the sex you wish you could be having at the moment, and talking about the sex you want to have once you're reunited again. Even if your significant other is not in arms reach, sexting is a way you both can maintain a sense of intimacy, satisfaction, and closeness.

Sexting can boost your confidence

When you decide to send intimate pictures to your partner, you might just experience an unexpected boost of confidence. According to Healthline, one of the key ways to find your body positive confidence is to put yourself out there and take risks. Sexting can definitely feel risky, but in the context of a safe, loving, and consensual relationship, it can be a good risk to take.

According to Beautiful You Studios, a benefit of taking intimate photos is the way they can elevate your body image, which is integral to higher levels of confidence. When you feel sexy and confident in your own skin, it instantly benefits you in your relationship by igniting a sense of true sensuality inside of you, which translates positively during times of intimacy, virtual or not.

And feeling good about yourself extends far beyond being a part of a healthy relationship. Feeling good about yourself, who you are, and the way you look matters whether you're dating someone or not. When you love yourself, it lets the world know that you're aware of your value and worth. You want your partner to be aroused by you, of course, but seeing intimate pictures of yourself might remind you of what a smoke show you are as well.

You don't have to send nudes

Just because your partner wants nude photos, it doesn't mean you have to send them. According to Elephant Journal, some people feel objectified when they're asked to send intimate photos of this nature. If that is the case for you, it's probably something you should avoid doing. 

If you get a sense that your partner is trying to manipulate you by pressuring you into sending nudes, you definitely should reject their request (via One Love). You should never feel guilted into doing anything that makes you uncomfortable. Sending intimate pictures is something that should only take place between two consenting adults. If one partner is demanding explicit pictures and videos, it creates an unhealthy relationship dynamic.

Setting healthy boundaries in your relationship is something to prioritize. According to Science of People, it's important to set boundaries around emotional energy, time, personal space, morals, ethics, finances, and sexuality. Without proper boundaries, people can lose themselves in their relationships. It doesn't matter how much you like a person or how attractive they are, don't put yourself in a vulnerable situation where you'll end up feeling used or taken advantage of. Some can send pics without batting an eye. If that's not you, it's okay to own that. In the same regard, you also shouldn't pressure anyone to send nude photos to you. No matter how curious, bored, or aroused you might be, if they say "no," the answer is "no."

Know the risks of sexting if your relationship ends

If you decide to take intimate pictures and send them to a partner, you have to keep in mind that anything can happen to them or with them. Once your pictures have been sent, your personal control over the situation is out of your hands. According to eSafety Commissioner, sexual extortion is a common form of abuse that can happen if someone with a dark agenda gains access to your pictures. There have been instances of people being blackmailed by their exes who've threatened to share the images online or with family members. And while that is an extreme example, you do have to consider what happens if you decide to end your relationship with your partner, but they still have nude photos of you.

Dealing with a failed relationship is hard enough, but another layer to heartbreak, according to Elephant Journal, is the realization that the person you were once dating still has a collection of your intimate pictures. And just because the relationship ended doesn't mean they'll feel inclined to instantly delete everything. It's important to only send photos with the knowledge of what happens to them after they are sent is out of your hands. For this reason, it's wise to be incredibly careful about who you trust with these types of photos and messages.

Revenge porn is a federal crime in most states

If you're nervous about the idea of an ex-partner posting some of your intimate photos online, the law might just be on your side, depending on the state you live in. Revenge porn is considered a federal crime in most states, which is a huge win for society. Just because you trusted someone with intimate pictures and the relationship didn't work out, it doesn't mean that you deserve to be harassed, tormented, blackmailed, or worse. 

According to Business Insider, revenge porn is illegal in 47 states including California and Washington D.C. In New York, the crime of revenge porn is punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation, according to Women's Justice NOW. Criminals also have to pay $1,000 in court for their wrongdoings. Your life does not need to be turned upside down just because a bitter individual has pictures of you that you'd rather not share with the world

Sending unsolicited photos is a federal crime in some states

Many women have been on the receiving end of unsolicited pictures in their lives. In fact, IFLScience reveals that 76% of adolescent girls have admitted to getting pictures of male genitalia that they did not ask for. According to USA Today, sending unsolicited nudes became illegal in Virginia in July of 2022. And Virginia isn't the only state in America to pass such a necessary law. According to Morales Law Office, sending unsolicited images is considered criminal activity in the state of Texas also.

Those who use dating apps to meet romantic prospects need to be incredibly wary about their online behavior. In the same way that women don't want to be flooded with unsolicited pictures from men, women also need to ask first before sending intimate pictures to people they're conversing with. Some women may assume that their potential love interests will automatically be interested in seeing what they look like naked. In reality, women need to get consent before sending pictures in the same way that men need to.

Phone hacks are a very real possibility

In a perfect world, it would be totally impossible for someone to hack your phone and expose your personal pictures. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. According to Daily Record, over 2.5 billion accounts were hacked in 2018 alone, with 158 hacks taking place every second. 

There have been several celebs who have had their phones hacked and their intimate photos leaked (via Ruin My Week). Kristen Stewart, Amanda Seyfried, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lawrence are only some of the victims. In 2007, Vanessa Hudgens' nude photos were leaked when she was in the midst of her Disney Channel fame as the main actress in the "High School Musical" movie franchise. If it can happen to famous people, it can definitely happen to you. Knowing that phones can potentially get hacked at any moment means it's important to be careful with the content you're storing, including intimate pictures you might've taken of yourself.

If the idea of your bank statements, text message threads, emails, and personal passwords getting leaked concerns you, you should feel just as alarmed about the idea of your pictures getting leaked and take any necessary steps you can to protect them.

Be mindful of your responses

If you trusted someone enough to send them an intimate photo, and they responded in a bored or lackluster way, it would probably feel quite devastating. Keep that in mind when you're receiving intimate photos from someone you care about. When it comes to sending sexy pictures back and forth, it's important to be mindful of what you say and how fast you say it. The worst mistake you could make is by writing back in a way that makes it look like you're less than impressed. If you take an incredibly long time to send a response without a valid excuse, it might make your partner feel insecure as well.

According to Verywell Mind, compliments can help boost a sense of positivity. Words of affirmation, especially when someone is putting themselves out there and taking risks, can really go a long way. PsychCentral says there's tons of power that comes from giving a good compliment to another person and they are more effective when they're totally heartfelt and sincere. If you're impressed by your partner's intimate picture, you should definitely make that abundantly clear to them.