sexting 101Back in the day we didn’t have texts. Now, sexting is a colloquialism in our culture that can cause an endless amount of trauma and confusion in relationships.

When a sextext is discovered, the mental torture begins; we may find ourselves dissecting every word, analyzing every sentence, and frantically searching for the details about when it happened and the length of time it took our partner to reply. Everything turns into a mental nightmare as we slowly lose our common sense and ability to see clearly.

So, if you catch your partner sexting what do you do?

#1. Approach the text as a concrete thinker.  Be ready for the sextexter to manipulate the facts – they will find a way to reinvent the text.  They’ll say things like, “That’s not what I meant, you’re reading into it,” “It’s out of context, you don’t know the circumstances of the conversation,” and “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” etc.  These are all lies that can make you start to doubt yourself and what you read.  Do not fall into this trap: words are words, sentences are sentences – there is no room for negotiation so do not let your partner talk his or her way out of what is strictly black and white.  You will most definitely lose your mind once you go down that path. The concrete evidence of the sextext will haunt you as you continue to believe you might be wrong and he or she might be right, and as you go over the details of the text in your head again and again.

You are not wrong.  Diction is diction, period.

#2. Stop going back and forth on whether or not you should snoop and see what kind of sexting may be occurring.  The mental exhaustion you will endure being wishy-washy on whether or not you should see more is a slow death.  Stop.  If you’re going to do it, do it.  If you decide you’re not going to do it, don’t, and stop thinking about it.  Obsessing over it doesn’t help, and it will continue to pull you down as it impedes your ability to freely think about your partners sexting.  You must take control of the precious space that constitutes your brain, make a decision and stand by it. Living like a pendulum and swinging back and forth on whether or not to keep snooping for more evidence is self inflicted torture that you don’t need, so stop.  Make up your mind on what you’re going to do and how you are going to proceed with the information you already have and commit to it.

#3.  Be wary of your weak moments.  Sometimes we have periods where we feel like we have to read through our partner’s sextexts, and regret it afterwards because either we didn’t find something, or did, and now have deal with it.  When this happens, you are back on the earlier train and go through the whole process of dissecting the message and trying to rationalize it; it’s torture. You must recognize the moments you feel the need to do it and make sure it’s not done recklessly, but with a calm, well thought out course of action.

#4.  Give yourself a mental break.  When you find yourself obsessing over previous texts or wondering what might potentially come next, stop.  You’re only digging yourself into a cave of madness that will result in the loss of the self. You lose your confidence and identity when you spend your precious time and mental space and on what such and such means.  All that energy you put forth in trying to figure out what’s truly going on will result in serious mental decomposition.

#5.  Try and find a sense of humor about the whole thing.  Discovering a sextext can be shocking, agonizing, and flat out terrible.  Sometimes the sextexts are so hard core and ridiculous that the potential to approach it with some sense of humor may arise.  “He said what?”  “She wrote that?”  You can’t choose the emotions you’ll experience when you discover a sextext, but you can control the outcome of your discovery.  That is when you start to build back the self you want to be, sans the nightmare of dealing with being in a relationship with a sextexter.

Modern technology doesn’t come with a handbook on the fallout it can cause in personal relationships, and we must keep this in mind.  You create your own handbook, and stick to it.  It’s your life and you have the right to live free of technological nightmares.

Girls with smartphone photo available from Shutterstock