|4 Tips for Marketing Your Private Practice
||As psychotherapists, we typically do not receive training in school on the business aspect of our profession. Many therapists make the decision to branch out into private practice, but feel stuck when it comes to knowing how to market themselves. The following are three quick … ...
||Intrusive thoughts can be extremely distressing and worrying. We think we must be a bad person if we’re thinking violent or bad thoughts. But this isn’t so at all. It … ...
|Want an Extra Eye?
||Imagine you had the option of having an extra eye … installed in your head. Would you want one? And where would you put it? On top – so that … ...
|Can Sexting Increase Relationship Satisfaction?
||News coverage of sexting tends to focus on the negative. When teens and politicians get caught exchanging nude pictures and lascivious messages on their phones, they’re publicly shamed. And their relationships can suffer profoundly, as when Anthony Weiner’s wife left him after The New York Post published the disgraced politician’s extramarital sexts.
But is there a positive side to sexting? Could it contribute to healthier and more satisfying relationships for adults? The research to date says yes—but only in certain conditions. It also says that sexting has become extremely common.
“Sending someone a sext message is not much different than writing an 1800’s erotic love note,” says Joe Currin, research coordinator for the Sexual Health Research Lab at Oklahoma State University. “Behaviors are adapting to the use of newer technologies. We just now have the ability to express our sexuality in real time.”
So what factors make the difference between good sexting and bad sexting? Here’s a list.
1. Enthusiastic consent
This should go without saying, but common sense plus research says that sexting needs to be mutual, enthusiastic, and consensual. Sexting gets a bad name partially because too many people receive unsolicited and unwanted nude pictures. Properly speaking, this is sexual harassment, not sexting, and it can be scary.
People can also be compelled to sext against their will, which may be linked to other kinds of abuse. A study published last month in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that 21 percent of the 885 undergraduates surveyed—most of them women—had been coerced at some point into providing sexual messages. The study also linked coerced sexting to “mental health symptoms, sexual problems, and attachment dysfunction,” which leads the researchers to describe it as a form of intimate partner abuse. In fact, this and several studies published last year suggest that coerced sexting may be a danger sign that the relationship could involve physical coercion or even violence.
This leads to the next condition for successful sexting.
2. Emotional safety, respect, and communication
Sexting is not the same as sex, in the sense that bodies are not directly interacting. It is, rather, minds interacting through phones. Just as sex flourishes in conditions of physical safety and respect, so sexting requires a certain degree of emotional safety if it is to work for both parties. When that condition is absent, sexting hurts the relationship.
This may sound simple, but the research reveals some tricky nuances. A study published earlier this year found that people who feared looking bad in the eyes of their partners were more likely to engage in sexting, suggesting that while the sexts weren’t necessarily coerced, they were being exchanged only to please a partner, not themselves. It suggests, further, that they didn’t feel confident enough in the relationship to simply say “no” to unwanted sexual activity.
Currin’s research with colleagues actually finds that heterosexual women feel a lot of anxiety when they don’t want to reply to a sext—but lesbians and men do not. Why? It may have a lot to do with the degree to which a woman wants to conform to a traditionally feminine ideal—what Currin calls a “controlling image”—which pits pressure to comply against seeing sexts as simply lewd.
“For non-heterosexual individuals, they’re already going against what society says they should be doing—so doing this other behavior doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother the other person,” says Currin.
This line of research suggests sexting needs to occur within the wider context of honest, back-and-forth conversation. How does your partner really feel about sexting? What kinds of sexts are acceptable and what are not? In what circumstances, if any, could pictures or text be shared? Is there a type of communication that feels threatening or just uncomfortable? While it may seem not-fun to have such conversations, their absence can destroy a relationship.
This is especially the case when a partner has past bad experiences—or an insecure attachment style.
3. Pay attention to attachment
The most interesting dimension of sexting research involves attachment theory, which refers to how childhood relationships with our parents can shape our adult ones. People who grow up to have a secure attachment style find intimacy easy; those with anxious or even avoidant styles might struggle with closeness and cooperation.
Sexting can help a couple become more attuned to each other, says Rob Weisskirch, a researcher at California State University, Monterey Bay. But many studies find that it can also hint at anxiety. According to this research, insecurely attached people are more likely to engage in sexting—and that this, for them, is actually associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Why, and what this means, is still a matter of debate among researchers and therapists.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that sexting is unhealthy, says Indiana University psychologist Michelle Drouin. “Instead, it is more likely that those who want to keep a bit more distance in their relationship (and women who want to keep partners closer) use sexting to fill sexual needs. For these individuals, sexting may actually help them by increasing their sexual or relationship satisfaction.”
The bottom line is that in this, as in other dimensions of a relationship, it pays to know your attachment style—and that of your partner. “Recognize the attachment pattern and look for ways of providing the feedback needed,” suggests Weisskirch. (Incidentally, one Hungarian study published last year found that attachment style can even extend to our relationship with our phones.)
4. (Creative) honesty
Like other items on this list, honesty falls into the category of obvious-but-tricky. Several studies suggest that deception-while-sexting is commonplace—and this is especially true for women who try to avoid emotional connection and intimacy, often as a result of childhood experiences.
A 2014 study by Michelle Drouin and colleagues found that almost half of the people in their sample of 155 heterosexual college students had sent deceptive sexts. These were often benign or even playful lies about what they were wearing or their state of arousal that were intended to entertain or titillate their partners. Women lied far more often than men, but mainly if they were anxiously attached—implying that they worried their significant other might go away if he didn’t get what he wants.
“Lying during sexting, just like pretending orgasm in a face-to-face context, is more likely to occur among those with insecure attachments to relationship partners,” write the authors.
So, should you never lie when sexting? Instead of making up sexy details or responses, is it better just to say, “I’m bored” or “I’m grocery shopping” or “I’m wearing that pair of underwear that sags around my butt”? To Drouin, it really depends.
“In a follow-up paper I’ve done, but not yet published, I found that many people consider sexting just fantasy,” says Drouin. “They use sexting to spice things up, and few are honest about what they are doing, wearing, or intending to do with a partner. Additionally, most people know and expect that others aren’t being honest during sexting.”
So is it better build up a fantasy or keep it real? “Depends on your personal boundaries, both sexually and in terms of how authentic you want your interaction to be,” says Drouin.
Which gets us back to consent, safety, communication, and emotional security. “Sure, sexting might be used to spice up a sexual relationship, but if one partner or another doesn’t feel like the communication is appropriate or authentic, it could also cause issues in the relationship,” says Drouin. At its best, sexting is playful and imaginative. If everyone is knowingly and voluntarily participating in the fantasy, it’s fun. If they’re not, it can hurt the relationship.
“Sext with caution would be my suggestion,” she adds. “Better yet—have sex instead. Real intimacy is much more fulfilling than the computer-mediated type.”
|Bipolar states can be identified by vocal characteristics, study finds
||People with bipolar disorder experience at least two distinct types of states: mania and depression. Increased activity, racing thoughts and impulsivity are notable characteristics of manic states, while depressive episodes can be comparable to the prolonged periods of deep despair associated with major depressive disorder. There are variations of each state related to specific diagnoses, [...]
|Cannabis reduces people’s willingness to work for money — but only while they’re high
||Smoking the equivalent of a single ‘spliff’ of cannabis makes people less willing to work for money while ‘high’, finds a new UCL study. The research, published in Psychopharmacology, is the first to reliably demonstrate the short-term effects of cannabis on motivation in humans. The researchers also tested motivation in people who were addicted to [...]
|Researchers identify new mechanisms to make memories stronger during aging
||When it comes to the billions of neurons in your brain, what you see at birth is what get — except in the hippocampus. Buried deep underneath the folds of the cerebral cortex, neural stem cells in the hippocampus continue to generate new neurons, inciting a struggle between new and old as the new attempts [...]
|Sleeping brain’s complex activity mimicked by simple model
||Researchers have built and tested a new mathematical model that successfully reproduces complex brain activity during deep sleep, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology. Recent research has shown that certain patterns of neuronal activity during deep sleep may play an important role in memory consolidation. Michael Schellenberger Costa and Arne Weigenand of [...]
|Trauma’s epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors
||The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood and anxiety disorders. However, according to Rachel Yehuda from the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who led a new study in Biological Psychiatry, there [...]
|Parents’ math skills ‘rub off’ on their children
||Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released University of Pittsburgh study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child. The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission–the concept of parental influence on an offspring’s behavior or psychology–in mathematic capabilities. “Our findings suggest [...]
|Wounds from childhood bullying may persist into college years, study finds
||Childhood bullying inflicts the same long-term psychological trauma on girls as severe physical or sexual abuse, suggests a new survey of college students. The study, which involved 480 college freshmen through seniors, indicated that the detrimental effects of bullying may linger for years, negatively affecting victims’ mental health well into young adulthood. While most of [...]
|Study links autism severity to genetics and first trimester ultrasound
||For children with autism and a class of genetic disorders, exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to increased autism severity, according to a study by researchers at UW Medicine, UW Bothell and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. The study published Sept. 1 in Autism Research studied the variability of symptoms [...]
|Politics affect views on healthcare quality — but not on personal experience with care
||What do you think about the quality of healthcare in the United States? Your opinion may depend on your politics, with Democrats perceiving more problems in the healthcare system compared to Republicans, reports a study in the Journal for Healthcare Quality (JHQ). The peer-reviewed journal of the National Association for Healthcare Quality,JHQ is published by [...]
|15 Reasons to Give up Alcohol
||If you’ve tried Dry July, or have chosen to remain sober for a set period of time, you know the health benefits of giving up alcohol are astronomical. While it’s not bad to have a drink in moderation every now and then, if alcohol is negatively impacting your life and your health, you may need […]
|Child Sexual Abuse: Don’t Hide Your Head in the Sand
||Right as the Summer Olympic Games started in Rio, the IndyStar reported that USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics, ignored sexual abuse allegations filed against coaches. Complaints were reportedly filed against more than 50 gymnastics coaches, but authorities were not contacted about the … ...
|Why Superman's Lame Disguise Might Actually Work
||It’s been a longstanding complaint since the first Superman comics debuted in the 1930s: why doesn’t anyone see through Clark Kent’s lame disguise and realize that he’s really Superman? New research suggests that Kent’s trademark glasses actually might work as a disguise—at least around people who don’t know him well....
|Depression is poorly diagnosed and often goes untreated
||Even when diagnosed correctly, depression often goes untreated.
|Sleeping brain's complex activity mimicked by simple model
||Researchers have built and tested a new mathematical model that successfully reproduces complex brain activity during deep sleep, according to a new study.
|Five Signs You Should Dump Your Couples Therapist
||One of the biggest problems with bad therapists is that you often fail to recognize their professional ineptitude. Instead, you wind up thinking it’s you, your partner, or your relationship. … ...
|Bipolar Disorder is Linked to Chronic Pain
||Pain is not unfamiliar to people with bipolar disorder. The psychological pain that comes with depression and dysphoria can be debilitating. Like most people, those with bipolar disorder also experience … ...