Part of a healthy relationship is being able to keep the spark alive even when life gets in the way. And when hours or even days are spent apart, you need to resort to other measures to keep the fire burning. For some people getting down and dirty on SMS can be awkward territory. So we've enlisted sexpert Juliet Allen to take us through sexting and how to sext right.
How do you initiate sexting?
It all starts with gauging your partner's interests before firing off that first nude photo or naughty text message.
"I feel like before sexting it's a good idea to get a feel for your lover and if they would be open to sexting, so you could bring it up in casual conversation when spending time together and gage their reaction," explains Allen, who also hosts a podcast discussing all things relationship and sex.
"If you don't resonate with that idea, I recommend starting very lightly, so using flirty language and suggestive language that could potentially lead into sexting. Remember sexting isn't everyone's cup of tea, so tread lightly and you will soon find out if your lover reciprocates with the response that they give you."
What should you sext?
Allen agrees that, when done correctly, it can help bolster your relationship. And who doesn't like a bit of dirty talk?
"Sexting can be a hot and sexy way to communicate about what you desire. Often we find it difficult to ask for what we want, or speak about our fantasises, sexting is a way to communicate this without stumbling on our words or feeling confronted by having our lover in front of us," she continues.
"The benefits are being able to flirt and enjoy sex virtually, sexting is also great for couples who love separately, or who are in a long distance relationship."
British author Nichi Hodgson has some sound advice for getting started.
"The standard dick pic is old news, and while dirty words are a reliable lubricant when delivered in person, you need to be more forward-thinking with your sexting to stand out from the crowd," she previously told Men's Health.
"Viber and even WhatsApp are good options for voice clips, but Snapchat is still the best way to get visual in a secure way, with the obvious downside being that you can’t save any replies to enjoy at a later date (unless you’re a filthy screengrabber)."
If you are planning some below-the-waist action, past findings suggest that women want to see torso accompanying your Johnson - a huge bonus if you have a six-pack to show off. If you're planning a stand-alone shot, up close and personal isn't the best option, women all agree.
Getting comfortable with sending nudes
Getting intimate via text is never easy. But Allen suggests that the trick is communication. Make sure you understand each other's needs and any concerns you might have.
"If you're nervous about it it's okay to communicate that to your lover and be nervous that it's something new for you. Being open about stuff like this creates closeness and deeper intimacy, and it helps us to understand each other.
"Take your time, and if your partner initiates, follow the lead and you'll soon feel in flow with your words if it feels right. Remember, sexting can be highly personal, so only enter into sexting if you feel like it's really what you want and desire. It's okay to say no, too."
Sexting also requires a lot of trust: will they share the details with their friends? Can I send them something they'll have forever? Allen recommends working out what you're comfortable with first.
"I think you have to feel into what feels good for you. Everyone has different boundaries around what they would and wouldn't send via text.
"I think it also depends on trust - how much do you trust this person? Never send images or words to anyone that you don't trust, because you never know where those texts will end up. Lots of people have a personal policy not to send nudes, however like I said, feel into what's right for you.
"We all have different expectations and boundaries around any sort of communication, however this is very unique to the individual. I don't feel there is a particular etiquette culturally."
Can you get in trouble for sexting or sending unsolicited dick pics?
It's not just embarrassment on social media, there are legal consequences too in Australia.
"Well if you're underage, sexting is illegal and sending nudes or receiving nudes from a minor is an offence. Be careful who you share your nude images with, they can end up anywhere on the internet," advises Allen.
But fi you're in a loving and consensual relationship, sexting is definitely something to consider adding to your repertoire
Juliet Allen is one of Australia's leading sexologists and the host of her podcast discussing all things relationship and sex. You can also find her at juliet-allen.com or on Instagram.