A recent University of Alberta study has found that couples who engage in sexting are more likely to experience problems in their relationships than couples who do not.
The study was led by Adam Galovan, an assistant professor of Human Ecology. He defines sexting as the “(receiving) or (sending) of sexually explicit words with no pictures and then, sexually explicit pictures where they are nude or nearly nude with their partner or person that they are in a relationship with.”
The study found that people who sext their romantic partners frequently — approximately three to four times a week, sending both sexually suggested words and pictures — received higher levels of sexual satisfaction in their relationship, however, they experienced more conflict.
Galovan’s research focused on data collected from 615 heterosexual and homosexual couples in long-term committed relationships. The participants ranged from 18 to 84 years of age, with an average relationship length of approximately 18.5 years.
“The general (findings of the study were) that frequent and hyper-sexters showed poorer outcomes in terms of conflict, commitment, relationship attachment, ambivalence about their relationships, technology interference, and social media infidelity related behaviours,” he said. “(But had) high sexual satisfaction.”
Galovan said people need to be cautious of their reasons for sexting. He said people will often start sexting their partner because they are struggling in other aspects of their relationship and could be trying to strengthen their relationship.
Galovan also suggests that the growing, widespread use of technology could be another factor changing the way that people behave in relationships. He said he wonders if taking a “shortcut with technology” is really the best course of action for people when it comes to relationships,” since “the data from his study has shown that “(sexting) is not working out so well for (people).”
“There are many other, alternative ways to have a healthy, happy relationship without involving sexting or technology,” Galovan said.
Galovan added that if a couple finds they are having troubles in their relationship they could spend time together doing enjoyable things like talking openly, giving each other gifts to know they were thinking of each other, sharing things they like about each other, and sharing more physical affection rather than virtual affection.