A while back I wrote about an experience I had where I found myself on the receiving end of a sext that was not intended for me. If you’d like to read it for context, click here. Since then, it’s been on my heart to write some sort of follow up.
This time, however, I’d like to focus more on the practical side of the situation. This means looking at the concrete things that we can do if we find ourselves pressured into or wrapped up in this practice. Regardless of how normal our culture makes it seem, it is still a form of dehumanization that needs to be addressed.
Let’s begin on the side of being pressured. Today’s dating culture would have us believe that sexting is an expression of love when, in reality, it’s more akin to use and manipulation. This confusion can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on us to participate.
So if you find yourself in the following situations, here are some practical steps to take:
- Asked to Send a Photo:
- Recognize your dignity. You are deserving of the utmost love and respect; there’s no question about that. Being asked for a revealing photo is in direct opposition of that truth.
- Say no. Knowing that you deserve better, the next step is to act and say no to the request. You are not meant to be used and denying the request is a firm affirmation that you desire better for yourself.
- Set healthy boundaries. This means creating a healthy distance between you and those who are pressuring you and, in some cases, even finding new friends. Explain these boundaries as well if you feel it would help.
- Pressured to Ask for a Photo:
- Recognize the dignity of the other. Just as you are deserving of love and respect, so are those around you. Asking someone for this type of photo, just as in the other scenario, contradicts that reality.
- Speak up against the pressure. If someone is pressuring you to ask for a photo, start by saying no. From there, take courage and stand up for the dignity of the other; even if it isn’t the popular response.
- Set healthy boundaries. Just as before, you want to create boundaries that will distance you from the pressure. Virtuous friendships exist and can be both healing and transformative.
Now if you’re under the age of 18 there is an additional step that is extremely important. Tell a trusted adult! There are serious legal consequences to sending and receiving explicit content of a minor and, if you feel pressured in any way, tell the appropriate authorities; especially if you’re being pressured or threatened by an adult.
With that said, I’d now like to address those who are currently taking part in this practice. I want to start by saying that I’m not here to shame or condemn you; I just want better for us all. I also want you to know that no matter how deep in it you currently are, you can come back from this.
It’ll take some work on your part, but here’s what can be done:
- If You’ve Sent a Photo:
- Recognize your dignity. Your desire for love and attention is good, but sexting will not satisfy those desires. You were made for so much more!
Bring it to an end. This is where you take a stand. Be courageous and cut all ties to this practice. Act from that place in your heart that knows the truth of your goodness.