“Remember the time you made me cum twice? I’m thinking about that right now…”. A very straight male friend sent this text to me last night. Before I could make a sarcastic retort, he texted: “Dude! She just sent this text to me. I replied with ‘Oh baby, want me to come over?’ She just typed a “meh” face and disappeared. What on earth did I do wrong?”

Boys, listen up – sexting is an evolved art. For starters, you need to clearly understand it is about enjoying the journey to Disneyland, and not about the bumper cars marathon. It is the build up – not the crescendo, so stop trying to make the crescendo happen. The very fact that you are not with the other person in her apartment, but on your couch in your pajamas, should clearly tell you that sexting is not about doing it – it is about imagining that you are doing it.

Men find it difficult to understand this simple fact. A dirty text after dinner is not a come-hither – it is an opening to a very interesting conversation. Genetically, most men are averse to conversation, so most either start begging for boob pics or start forcing amateur cellphone shots of their family jewels into the woman’s inbox. A little visual aid and some wrist action – that’s Thursday night for us, isn’t it? Amateurs. There is a lot of pleasure in just being revved up and not working the gear lever, if you know what I mean. The other person is going to be uninhibited and open up to you in ways they haven’t until now – this is your chance to actually see what kind of a person they are. How imaginative and wild are their tastes? Kinks say a lot about a person, you know.

So, here’s how you should be conducting yourself on your dirty little keypad:

Stand in front of the mirror, look into your eyes and ask yourself whether you are good with languages. Be honest with yourself, because bad language and incorrect grammar will kill any chance of a romantic liaison. Those who pretend to be Tolstoys and Nerudas, but instead end up texting a whole lot of tripe, are even worse. What do you do if you suck at writing, then? Keep it simple and let her take charge. Start with easy questions like “What are you wearing?” While that is a common opener, it immediately does the job of setting the mood for the conversation. See how she takes it forward. When things heat up, don’t get caught up in poetry or try too hard to sound intelligent. If you have let her take the lead, ask her to describe what she’d like to do to you. If she invites you to take charge, start out with conventional moves. Test the waters. Where do your lady’s tastes lie, on a scale of ‘no-biggie’ to ‘are-you-fricking-kidding-me?’

Don’t ever commit the cardinal error of using forwarded messages copied from random websites or, worse, those that have been group-shared on messaging apps. They are usually corny and badly written, and even if they sound hot to you, your girl will see through the rubbish. To her, you’ll be just a lazy dog who wants to keep his right hand free – not cool. Don’t use elaborate emoticons, either. Simple winks and naughty smiles are OK, but don’t go with an overdose of brinjal-fist-cherries-tongue-asparagus-carrot-thumbs-eyes-droplets – this is foreplay, not a kindergarten textbook. Crucially, dnt evr tpe lk dis. No wmn is gng 2 gt trnd on by sms lingo. Da whle pnt of sxtng is wrds. Spllng mttrs.

It is also important to understand which words are working for her and which are not. Pick up on the vibe. A lot of women might not be comfortable with swearing, so please don’t go from “babything” to “filthy slut” without a green flag; others might like to keep it onomatopoeic. Don’t copy what Hollywood or porn teaches you about dirty talking – some women might find “Who’s your daddy?” really offensive.

It’s very important to give the other person some space, too. Don’t badger her with long passages followed by even longer passages. Wait for her to reply, and if she doesn’t (One tick. Two ticks. Blue ticks. “Online”. Why is she not replying? What is the matter? WHY IS SHE IGNORING ME???), cut out the paranoia and just give her some time. Maybe she is not into it any more. Maybe she got bored. Maybe she’s taking her T-shirt off for a dirty photograph. Whatever the reason, continuously messaging “Hey” “Are you there?” “What happened?” “Reply!” will just make you come across as a needy wimp.

And that, gentlemen, brings us to the photo-sharing rules. Firstly, NEVER send a dick pic to anyone, unless asked for. This is a matter of good manners, like opening the door for a lady – while she might be fine if you don’t open the door for her, it is just good manners to do so. Also, isn’t it sexier when the other person actually wants to see your “ahem”, rather than you shoving it in their face? No one likes an “ahem” shoved into their face. Secondly, don’t beg for her photographs either. Slip the request in casually, maybe during the second or third round of sexting – this is a strict no-no for the first time – and see how she reacts. You need to win her trust before she starts sending kinky photographs to you. Thirdly, ask her to send the first few photographs without identifiers like her face, specific jewellery or tattoos. She will realise that you are not some creep, but someone who actually values her privacy. Lastly, NEVER share the other person’s private photographs with your friends. Doing that deserves the slap in the face you’re probably going to get.