The reality has hit you – your partner has been sending illicit texts to someone else. Finding out that your other half has been sexting when you thought your relationship was going well is a horrible situation to be in. The feelings of shock and betrayal are likely to leave you asking yourself and your partner a lot of questions.
But is sexting actually betrayal? Some might argue that sexting is only a sign of being human and having fun. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to end up actually doing anything sexual with the other person – so what’s the harm? But that view won’t wash for most people who require commitment and honesty from their partner.
Sexting is increasingly popular amongst adults and can be a fun way to enhance your sex life with your partner. The Way We Are Now 2015 study by Relate, Marriage Care and Relationships Scotland found that over half of 16 to 34 year olds said that sending sexy or flirtatious messages and pictures had a positive impact on their relationship.
However, just as technology can enhance our relationships, it also presents risks. One Canadian study found that whilst 75 percent of people who sexted had done so within the confines of a relationship, 12 percent had sexted in a relationship where cheating had taken place.
So what are you supposed to do if you catch your partner sexting somebody else? First be certain that it’s actually happening. In some relationships, accusations of sexting cause frequent rows even though the partner being accused hasn’t actually been up to anything. Accusing them of sexting is just one way of showing them how bad we might be feeling. So before any of us launch in to a tirade against a partner about what we imagine they’ve been up to, let’s be clear what we are basing our concerns on.
Let’s assume that you’ve got the ‘evidence’ – baring in mind that going through a person’s phone can be seen as a betrayal of trust. Do you have a screaming row? Do you feel angry and upset but decide to say nothing and hope it goes away? Or perhaps you put it down to the stress your partner’s been under recently and that of course it won’t happen again.
Maybe you blame the “sextee” – the one they’ve been engaging with. Relationship counsellors often see couples where the one who feels betrayed puts the transgression down to the conniving ways of the sextee. Somehow they’ve lured their partner into this behaviour and are entirely responsible.
Most counsellors though would try to help the couple to see that a person is rarely made to do this. So, letting your partner take responsibility for their part of the deal is important. You might also feel you want full disclosure. This means asking your partner to be really honest about how far it has gone. It is obvious that sometimes sexting gets followed up by actually meeting that person or vice versa and for most partners, this would be far more serious. Most people would want to know how long it’s been going on and if there have been other ‘sextees’ in the past. But the most helpful question we can ask is likely to be ‘why’?
For people who sext, it tends to be curiosity and maybe boredom with the hum drum of everyday life that makes sexting an attractive distraction. The need to feel desired can be a big motivator too. One of the main problems when sexting happens outside of the relationship is that you find it has a different meaning for each of you. For the one who’s just found out what’s happening, it’s usually a big deal.
Not many treat it as a passing irritation. For the one who’s doing it, they may think it’s not doing any harm. They may tell themselves it doesn’t count as cheating although many would argue that it does. Another common theme is the partner using this experience as
For the one who’s doing it, they may think it’s not doing any harm. They may tell themselves it doesn’t count as cheating although many would argue that it does. Another common theme is the partner using this experience as way to start off ending the relationship.
For the one who’s just found out what’s happening, it’s usually a big deal. Not many treat it as a passing irritation. For the one who’s doing it, they may think it’s not doing any harm. They may tell themselves it doesn’t count as cheating although many would argue that it does. Another common theme is the partner using this experience as way to start off ending the relationship.