What We Can Learn From The Anthony Weiner Sexting Scandal by Jackie Pilossoph for the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press
“Strike three, you’re out!” isn’t something the Chicago Cubs are hearing much lately, but those words just hit Anthony Weiner, as the former New York congressman and mayoral hopeful recently got caught in his third sexting scandal, which was then topped off by his wife, Huma Abedin, saying buh-bye to their marriage.
Sexting has been called Weiner’s “fetish” or “weakness” by the media, but I think that for Weiner to continually engage in this behavior, even after the severe consequences he’s already experienced, it’s about so much more than a fetish or weakness. Sexting for him seems to me more like an addiction.
Weiner is not alone. According to a survey done last year by Drexel University professors Emily Stasko and Pamela Gellar nearly 88 percent of 870 U.S. participants ages 18 and older reported they had sexted at some point in their lives.
I got to wondering, what’s the draw? What is so attractive about sexting – texting someone sexually suggestive or explicit content or photos?
Ilyse Froy is a Chicago-based clinical therapist who specializes in couples and family counseling. She said technology has broken down in-person communication, and has made infidelity very depersonalized.
“When you’re sexting, you’re hiding behind the technology,” said Froy, who has been in practice since 2002. “It’s less of a risk because you don’t have to look in the eyes of this person and get rejected.”
Froy estimated that 90 percent of couples who come to see her have social media or cellphone-related issues. She said many men and women sext because they are either afraid or they don’t know how to communicate to their partner what their needs and desires are.
“They fear being rejected or laughed at, so instead they turn to technology because they can play out this fantasy role of what they want to be,” she said. “It helps them get their needs met that they didn’t feel were getting met in the primary relationship.”
Froy said that versus communicating their needs to their partner, people often choose to sext because it’s easier and they are trying to avoid confrontation and/or a very difficult, uncomfortable conversation.
“Patients tell me, ‘My partner would never be into that. The sex is very vanilla, it’s once a month and their sexual desire is not at my level,'” Froy said. “They say, ‘It will just cause more issues in our marriage.'”
This discussion was extremely depressing to me. I wondered, does this mean all married couples are going to end up like Weiner and Abedin?
Froy said the first step in the prevention of sexting with outsiders is to choose to sext each other instead.
“It’s very healthy to take sex out of the bedroom,” she said. “Every now and then, shoot your spouse a suggestive or dirty text. Make him or her feel desired. If there are no other real marital issues, sexting will most likely trigger something and get the spouse on board.”
“Nooners,” renting a hotel room or having sex on the kitchen floor are all healthy behaviors in a committed monogamous relationship, according to Froy, but she said both partners have to be willing to expose their vulnerability, which is not always easy.
“When you are vulnerable, you risk rejection and you risk a sense of loss of control, and that is very hard for people,” Froy said. “There has to be a level of comfort with your partner, which almost always comes from trust, loyalty, friendship and companionship in a marriage.”
Can couples come back from infidelity via sexting?
“It’s a lot of effort and energy, but it can be done,” Froy said. “You have to change the way you think, not just the way you act. It’s a long process and it happens in steps. It’s skill building and understanding how possible childhood or other traumatic experiences in life might have played a part in the behavior.”
I think the Weiner scandal gave sexting a really bad connotation, and that sexting between two people in love can be healthy, exciting and can foster an even stronger physical and emotional connection.
Just be careful. Technology is tricky, and someone scorned and hurt can be left with naked photos they might choose to post all over the internet. Still, there’s nothing better…(Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.)
Like this article? Check out my post, 11 Things People Say to Justify Staying In a Bad Marriage.