Healthy lives for young people
Relationships, Staying Safe Online

Sexting: Rachel’s Story

Rachel, 20, shares her experience of sexting and how it can be both addictive and validating – as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons.

I started sexting before I had a Snapchat, or even an encrypted platform. This was not the best decision I could’ve made at the time, but you live, and you learn. When I got together with my first boyfriend, it was exciting to be sending nudes and talking about what we wanted to do with each other whilst he was on the bus home or in his room, and to think about him thinking about me like that. It was really, really self-indulgent.

I’d never been known as a ‘hot girl’ at school, so having someone see me in that way was new and extremely validating.

We were terrible at sexting, though – we’d type the actions we wanted to do with each other in asterisks *like this*. An example:

*Kisses down your stomach and unbuttons your trousers*

Yikes.

After that, sexting became the way I initiated relationships with people I fancied. I’d meet people on Tinder, talk to them for a bit, then when I was bored and alone on an evening, I’d send them a picture of my bum. The reactions were always rewarding. It was such a buzz. I would get these reactions from older men in their twenties and again, it was so validating.

I became completely hooked on objectifying myself for men I’d never met.

I actually ended up in a relationship with someone I did this with and really fell for them. Things didn’t work out and after that, the rush of sending strangers nudes lost its spark. I’d keep doing it though, because I wanted other people to think I was sexy and to know I could still draw people in with this appeal – and I could. But it didn’t feel the same. I began to notice that they didn’t really see me as a person; I was just something to jerk off to.

There was this one guy I did this with, and he wouldn’t leave me alone for ages. We organised a date to meet up, but I backed out the day before and let him know I wasn’t interested. We’d been talking on Snapchat, which I deleted him from, so he found me on Facebook and sent me a message on there, which I ignored. He then found my Instagram and sent me a message on there, which I ignored. He then found a friend of mine on Facebook and tried to get them to contact me, which I ignored. I then blocked him on everything. A few months later, he made a different Facebook account, and tried to message me through that. Ignored. Made another Instagram account, and messaged me through that. Ignored. Another Instagram account. Ignored. After a year he stopped. Whenever he did this, I’d feel a little freaked out that someone would be that persistent after such a clear rejection had been made.

Would this have happened if I hadn’t sent him nudes? Maybe, maybe not, either way that doesn’t make what he did okay, or in any way my fault. It didn’t change that fact that he was being really creepy.

There was another guy I did this with who wasn’t into me that I’d send nudes to a lot, and he’d screenshot them and occasionally send a nude back but got angry when I asked if things could be a bit more equal. I didn’t mean for it to sound like he owed me more nudes because I was sending him so many, but it came across that way. I felt bad about it, so I sent him more. I became agitated about this because I was trying so hard to hold it all together and pretend it was fine, but in the end we had a massive argument about our dynamic, and when I asked him to delete my nudes he said he would “try”, but wouldn’t say whether he actually had.

After all this, I’ve realised that I’m way more comfortable holding back on sending nudes. I think it became quite addictive for me as someone who was very insecure and looking for external validation.

Now I prefer to actually know and trust the person I’m sending those photos to. Whilst sending nudes made me feel more confident with my naked body, it made me realise I don’t need other people to tell me that I look good naked, because I already see myself that way now. Every now and then I’ll post a cheeky bikini or lingerie picture online, because why not? I look good and shouldn’t let other people’s judgements prevent me from expressing my sexuality. But it’s important that I check-in with myself before I post those things, so I don’t post them for someone else. I want to be happier in my body for me, without anyone else’s opinions defining how I feel about it.

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