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Sexting adds spice to the bedroom, but strains communication: Study

New research from the University of Alberta showed couples who sexted often felt less of a secure attachment in their relationship and lower levels of commitment.

The downside for frequent (three or four times a week) and “hyper sexters” (at least once a day) is that they also reported a higher degree of couple conflict.

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The downside for frequent (three or four times a week) and “hyper sexters” (at least once a day) is that they also reported a higher degree of couple conflict.

Too much sexting could signal trouble outside the bedroom.

A new study led by the University of Alberta has found people who frequently sext with their partners have better sex lives but struggle more with other aspects of their relationships.

“It might be giving them a short-term payoff, perhaps, in sexual satisfaction, but if you look at other areas of the relationships and people that are sending these sext messages regularly don’t seem to be having a lot of other benefits,” said Adam Galovan, the study’s lead author and a family scientist in the University of Alberta’s department of human ecology.

The research found people who regularly engage in sexting — sending sexual messages and images via smartphone or other devices — reported greater sexual satisfaction than non-sexters.

The downside for frequent (three or four times a week) and “hyper sexters” (at least once a day) is that they also reported a higher degree of couple conflict, and felt less of a secure attachment in their relationship, as well as lower levels of commitment.

People who sext often were also more likely to view pornography and engage in “infidelity-related” behaviours, like talking to their exes on social media.

“They reported that when they are in person with their partner, their partner is looking at their phone or checking emails or other things that are interfering with their interactions,” Galovan said.

While other studies have examined the effect of sexting on teens, Galovan set out to determine its effect on people in long-term, committed relationships.

The study surveyed 615 adults in Canada and the U.S. who have been in their current relationship for an average of 18-and-a-half years.

It included people of various ethnicities, income, ages and education levels, in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Based on the results, Galovan says couples should be mindful of how they use technology and set aside phone-free time when they’re together at home.

“Our working thought is they seem to be maybe thinking that (sexting) is a quick and easy way to spice up the relationship – maybe use it as a shortcut,” he said.

“But when most people think about good relationships, they think about having conversations, spending time together, those sort of things."

The study was co-conducted by Michelle Drouin of Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Brandon T. McDaniel of Illinois State University and is part of the larger The Couple Well-Being Project, exploring relationship dynamics.

The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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