Why Is He Sending Suggestive Pictures—And How Can You Get Him to Stop?

Charlene was annoyed.

“All I get are guys sending me disgusting pictures,” she told me. “Don’t they get that I don’t want to see them naked? They’ve got a serious problem if they think a photo like that is going to turn a woman on.”

“So there’s not a single guy who’s contacted you who might be of interest?” I asked.

“Nah, not really.” She rolled her eyes. “All the guys on Tinder just want hookups.”

Charlene wasn’t the first client to tell me this.

A 2017 survey found that 1 in 2 Millennial women have been sent an explicit photo from a man, while only 1 in 4 Millennial men admit to having sent one.[1] 

The study asked women what they thought of these images, and the most common responses were “gross,” “stupid,” and “sad.”

The study also asked men what they thought. Thirty-two percent of men thought the images were “gross,” but a nearly equal number (30%) thought they were “sexy.”

Online dating sites are aware of the problem. Unfortunately, once phone numbers are exchanged, communication is no longer under their control.

Solutions are coming. Web developer Kelsey Bressler is working on an AI filter that blocks explicit images before they reach your inbox. States like Texas and South Carolina have laws against sending lewd images without prior consent.

But at the moment, you’re at risk of getting unwanted images from the moment you exchange numbers.

Why Do Men Do It?

Women like Charlene experience those unwanted pictures as harassment. Once you see an image, you can’t un-see it. Even after you delete it, the yucky feeling lingers.

And some men want that. A small percentage of men who send images (15%) send explicit images because it’s a power trip. They know women don’t want to see it. Sending the image gives them a feeling of control over the recipient.

But that only accounts for 15% of the lewd pictures popping up on women’s phones. Why do the other guys send those images?

Nearly half of the men who send explicit photos of themselves are hoping for one of two reactions:

(1) that you’ll want to sleep with them, or

(2) that you’ll send a sexy photo of yourself in return.

And a third of men are sending these pics because they think it will help them score a long-term relationship. They believe it’s a normal way of flirting. It “lets women know they’re interested.”

Believe it or not, 77% of the men sending these images are doing so in hopes of creating a connection. Most want you to feel turned on—despite the fact that Match.com found that explicit pics are women’s #1 sexual turnoff.

A staggering 50% of men even think that receiving an image from them will make you feel attractive!

Before you ask, “What planet are they living on?” let’s look at what we know about these men.

According to research, men who send these images tend to score high in narcissismand ambivalent/hostile sexism. They also tend to be younger.[2]

Younger men have grown up in a world where taking selfies and viewing explicit images on the internet are the norm. They don’t see a problem with it.

Which may be why women over the age of 35 don’t have as many problems with receiving unwanted images as younger women.

Only a third of women in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties have ever received an explicit image from a man.

What Can You Do?

Your first step should be to report the offender to the dating app, if possible.

OkCupid introduced a Member Pledge back in 2017 that required members to promise they wouldn’t send sexually explicit messages. Bumble has a “Private Detector” feature that flags explicit photos with 98% accuracy.

Find out what protections your dating app offers. If it offers none, then it may be time to switch.

Next, delete and block the sender. Don’t give into the temptation to send him a response—even a clever one.

Finally, try keeping all communication on the dating app itself until you’ve met the guy in person and decided you like him. That way, if he sends you anything offensive, you can immediately flag it for the dating app moderators.

One last thing:

Some people will tell you that you’re responsible for his explicit pics, because something in your profile suggested you were up for a hookup. Don’t buy it. It’s never okay to send explicit material to someone without their prior consent.

If you feel your online profile might be attracting the wrong type of guy, then by all means revise it. But don’t take responsibility for how he’s acting. His behavior says a lot about him … and virtually nothing about you.


[1] https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2017/10/09/53-millennial-women-have-received-dick-pic

[2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00224499.2019.1639036

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