I think I'm failing a major test of pandemic dating: sexting. It feels like since I'm not that into sexting, and still cautious about meeting up, I'm doomed to conversational dead ends with people I meet on dating apps.Even though vaccines are widely available now, I live in a part of the U.S. that hasn't embraced them, which is maddening. I got my shots but I'm still cautious about meeting people that I haven't gotten to know remotely for awhile. Thus, the sexting.
I can lose interest in someone pretty quickly if our sexual chemistry isn't apparent right away, which means I've tried hard to get into the flirty good morning texts and the raunchy ones late at night. But creativity with words isn't my thing, and it just isn't fun for me, no matter how many emojis I employ.
Plus, texts are one thing, but I'm not about to be sending nudes and lewds to everyone I might be into. It's just too risky. Are there some basic sexting tips that can help me fake it tilll I make it? How else can I remotely access the chemistry I need to tell if all these virtual courtships are worth my time? I'm getting super touch starved, and need the shortest safe route to connection.
Stuck With Sexting
Dear Stuck With Sexting,
After well over a year of pandemic, figuring out dating doesn't seem to be getting any easier, does it? The rules and the stakes keep changing, while the monotony of pandemic life stretches on. Plus, even with vaccines making life look more familiar, knowing that it’s all far from over means that meeting new people is still riddled with anxiety.
Your question calls to mind a theory I have about dating during the past year, which is that many of us are newly exploring the nuances of our attractions. For example, how sexual and romantic attraction are distinct, but often inform each other. Things like this might have been easier to notice if your normal ways of making connections were disrupted by social distancing. You don't mention how you used to date in the Before Times but I get the sense that you'd prefer to make your initial connections IRL, or to meet new Tinder matches as soon as possible, so you can ride the energetic wave of your interaction. If physical attraction is your trusty compass, you've probably felt really adrift this year.
Which is why, I'm afraid, I don't believe the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach applies to your dilemma. It sounds like your aversion to sexting is less about the way it makes you feel pressured and bored, and more about how it doesn't get you any closer to gauging chemistry, and thus, compatibility. I could give you tips to address the first part (my go-to tip is stealing my descriptions from steamy memories, for what it's worth) but what would help you so much more is figuring out how to create more encounters where you feel safe to interact in your ideal way. And I'm happy to help with that! The key is to be as upfront as possible.
If physical attraction is your trusty compass, you've probably felt really adrift this year.
I should start by sharing my own little secret – I'm horrible at sexting. As a writer, this feels shameful, but in truth, that's exactly what the problem is. I'm so used to wanting my words taken seriously that I'm at a loss when I have to arrange them playfully. If someone starts that kind of convo with me, all I can guarantee in return is "Ooh, is that so?" with a winking emoji. Pathetic, I know. But like you said, I just don't find it fun.
I think I'm also threatened by the permanence of these exchanges. If I'm having sex IRL and dirty-talking with a partner and I say something that feels silly, it's quickly forgotten, since more interesting things are happening. But if I say something like that over text, it's just glaring at both of us on a bright screen. No, thank you! At one point, I decided to just lead with my incompetence, actually putting ‘a sex writer who's shit at sexting’ on my profile. Naturally, the people who found this factoid funny and/or relatable swiped right, and if we matched, we could engage without that expectation.
In general, being specific and straightforward about who you are and who you're hoping to meet is a reliable way to cut through the bullshit and get better matches. You want the people you're looking for to see themselves in your description. It can feel vulnerable to state so plainly, "I'm looking for other queer women friends, but ideally we could make out sometimes!" It might even feel vulnerable just to get that honest with yourself about these desires. But that feeling is good! Follow it. Besides, you have to stand out somehow from everyone describing themselves as “laid-back" and "drama-free".
Being specific and straightforward about who you're hoping to meet is a reliable way to cut through the bullshit.
I really think it might be worth mentioning your vaccination status, especially if it makes you an outlier where you live. If you're comfortable with it, you might even want to name The Jab as a prerequisite for meeting up. Let people know: you want to connect physically, but in the safest way possible. Your hotness could actually compel people to seek vaccinations, and that is a public health praxis! But seriously though, if enough people do this, the result would be a positive peer pressure. It could coax many vaccine-hesitant people to make an appointment after all. If it takes some dating FOMO to help crush this virus, so be it.
I do have to include a caveat, which is that not everyone who wants a vaccine can get one, for reasons that range from illness to access. Not everyone who is holding out is a COVID-denier. This is not meant to become a litmus test for a person's morals or politics, but to determine who around you is best able to meet your particular needs right now. And what you need is access to touch in an unrestricted way.
Sexting can be a fun way to expend sexual energy and add novelty to your interactions with a lover. But doing it well absolutely can consume mental and creative energy, especially with people you're trying to get to know! Take that pressure off yourself and keep putting your desire for safe in-person contact first. All the rest will come together.