The Dangerous Allure of Sexting – “Weinergate” Lessons for Everyone

You now know more about and have seen more of Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) than you ever imagined or hoped. The news story all began on May 27th with questions of the mysterious picture of underpants posted from Weiner’s Twitter account and concluded at a June 6th news conference with a contrite confession of serial sexting by a member of Congress.

In ten short days, the newly married, 46-year old veteran Democrat, known as a vicious, political pit bull was neutered to nothing more than a whimpering dachshund who just got a bad hair cut.

The appeal of sexting is not that complicated: two people triggering the release of multiple, internal chemicals (dopamine, adrenaline, testosterone, etc) by  engaging in taboo sexual conversations, experiencing the thrill of taking and sharing explicit images with one another,  feeling a powerful sense of pseudo-anonymity and privacy, kicked off with the risk of getting caught.

The impact of getting caught sexting is not that complicated either. It triggers the release of multiple feelings including shame, embarrassment, regret, humiliation, and despair.

So, what do we learn from “Weinergate”? Straight from Weiner himself, here’s several lessons on illicit sexting that everyone can learn from, whether you’re married or single, male or female, young or old,  a public figure or a nobody.

LESSONS LEARNED IF YOU’RE CONSIDERING OR CURRENTLY SEXTING (someone who is not your spouse):

Sexting Puts You in Compromising Situations with Unknown People:
“I don’t know the exact ages of the women, and I don’t know if you do. I’m going to respect their privacy. But they were all adults — at least to the best of my knowledge they were all adults — and they were — and they were engaging — and they were engaging in these conversations consensually. Well, all I know is what they publish about themselves in social media. Someone could theoretically be — have been — have been fibbing about it, and that’s a risk…I didn’t — no, I didn’t have the sense that they were complete strangers. These were people that I had developed relationships with online, and I believed that we had — we had become — we had become friends.”

Sexting Creates an Insatiable Desire for More, More, More:
“In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online. I’ve exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. For the most part, these communications took place before my marriage, though some have sadly took place after.”

Sexting is Addicting and Difficult to Stop Without Help:

“But if you’re — if you’re looking for some kind of deep explanation for it, I simply don’t have one except that I’m very — except that I’m sorry…From time to time, I would say to myself, this is a mistake or this conversation — someone could listen in on or translate to someone else… In this case, it was just me doing a very dumb thing, and for that I accept the responsibility. Almost from the moment that I — you know, when you say something like that that’s so wrong — I was embarrassed, and I didn’t want it to lead to other embarrassing things. And I did — I did a — it was a dumb thing to do to try to tell lies about it because it just led to more lies.”
  

Regardless of How You Justify It, Sexting is a Form of Cheating:
“My primary sense of regret and my primary apology goes to my wife. I should not have done this, and I should not have done this, particularly when I was married…she was not happy. Told me as much. She — my primary apology, as I’ve said several times, is to my wife Huma. But she made it very clear that she thought what I did was very dumb, and she was not happy about it. But she also — and she’s very disappointed — and she also told me that she loved me, and wanted us to, you know, to pull through this.”


LESSONS LEARNED WHEN CAUGHT SEXTING:

Sexting Hurts Others
“I’d like to make it clear that I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people I care about the most, and I’m deeply sorry. I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters and the media…I haven’t told the truth, and I’ve done things that I deeply regret. I brought pain to people I care about the most and the people who believed in me. And for that I’m deeply sorry. I apologize to my wife and our family, as well as to our friends and supporters. I’m deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions.”

Sexting is Impossible to Justify When You Get Caught
“I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a destructive thing to do. I’m apologetic for doing it. It was deeply, deeply hurtful to the people I care about the most. It was something I did that was just wrong, and I regret it. This was a big mistake to — I was embarrassed. I was humiliated — I’m still to this moment. I was trying to protect my wife. I was trying to protect myself from shame. It was a mistake. And I really — and I really regret it.”

Sexting Negatively Affects the Relationships that Matter Most
“This was a very dumb thing to do, and it was a destructive thing to do. But it wasn’t part of any plan to be hurtful to my wife. It wasn’t part of a plan to be deceitful to you. It wasn’t part of a plan to be — it wasn’t part of a plan. It was a destructive thing that I did that I accept responsibility for.”

So is illicit sexting with someone worth it? Learning from the painful realities of a  “Weiner” is a lot better then following in the footsteps of a “Weiner”.

What’s on The Social Media Couple’s mind?

The concept of “sexting” is fairly new.  It is defined (on Wikipedia) as “the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones.”

If you’re not married, weigh the potential,  long-term, personal impact and career-ending damage against the cheap thrills of the moment.  We have read countless horror stories of sexting-gone-bad, heard about when the “private pics” going public, and seen the humiliation and shame that full exposure brings.  Sexting is not a risk worth taking.

If you are married and want to try sexting, talk to your spouse about the two of you making this a part of your foreplay ritual.  If you or spouse are not interested, then don’t do it!  Keep in mind that there’s these short, but powerful phrases in the traditional wedding vows that say something about “forsaking all others,” “physically uniting as one” and “promising to be faithful”.  The commitment to fidelity is physical, emotional, sensual and (now in the 21st Century) virtual.  So if sexting does not include both you and your spouse, then it’s not something you should be doing…end of story. (If you want to see where it can lead, read the full transcripts of Rep. Weiner’s press conference.)


Share what’s on your mind! (type comments below)

What do you think of sexting?  Should it be considered cheating, or is it just a form of online flirting? Does the Weinergate story inspire you to set up some personal guard rails and healthy relationship boundaries for your online time?


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Copyright © 2011 K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper source citation.

About The Social Media Couple

4 Responses to “The Dangerous Allure of Sexting – “Weinergate” Lessons for Everyone”

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  1. Lesli Doares says:

    I am no prude but I do not understand the appeal of sexting. Would these same people take their clothes off in public? It amounts to the same thing because they have no idea what the other person is going to do with the pictures. Answering the “thrill” of doing this in public is known as flashing and is generally against the law. Why do people think the “rules” of society don’t apply on the internet. It’s not as anonymous as people think.

  2. greg says:

    Sexting is not new; it has been around since the beginning of e-mail and phone messaging.

  3. Lorry says:

    Dont do it with a person you never met , it’s not worth it . Emotions take over and then it’s hard to stop. You begin to feel like you know the person and it’s hard to separate reality from fantasy.

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