Open dialogue about sex has always been par for the course for Elizabeth Dell; after all, she grew up with a mom who is a professor of reproductive health. “I’ve always been that girlfriend sitting at the bar drawing on a napkin to show how lady parts work,” laughs Dell, now a certified sex educator. “I’ve had a lifelong interest in sexuality and exploration.”
Dell is channeling that wealth of knowledge into Amorus, a “digital intimacy app” designed for better sexting. The Los Angeles resident was first inspired to create the app in 2020, when the pandemic left her feeling like she’d lost her mojo and craving inspiration and intimacy. The app launched in late June, hitting a milestone of 10,000 sexts sent between users less than two months later.
Get Dell’s tips for making sexy chat more private, engaged, and inspired below:
What gave you the idea for Amorus?
Dell: I love sexy communication. I love sexuality. I love intimacy. I’m a pretty darn good sexter, but when the pandemic hit last year, I was not sheltered in place with a partner. I was all of a sudden celibate for longer than I’d been in a long time. I was really struggling with how to stay sexy, find pleasure, and keep that momentum and energy alive. Great sexting involves creativity, vulnerability, sharing, and inspiration, and not all of that was fresh at hand every day.
So I went looking for tools to help bridge those sexy connections, and I became really frustrated with what was out there. Most of it was sleazy, cheesy, or felt like a bad version of “Truth or Dare.” A light bulb went off, and it felt like an opportunity. That was the birth of Amorus – the moment I knew I wanted to make an app to make sexy time better for partners.
What makes good sexting?
Dell: It is being present. Really great sexting—just like really good sex—is about direct engagement with a partner. If you’re in a conversation and it’s obvious the person on the other side is just waiting for their turn to say more stuff, that’s not engaging or personal. Both people should feel seen and heard. It doesn’t need to be with someone you’ve known for a million years, as long as you’re both paying attention.
Great sexting comes from honest declarations; we connect with people when we share ourselves. It’s incredibly exciting to know what turns someone on, and if you’re authentically sharing what gets you excited, that’s really personal, visceral, true, and real. I liken it to being on a journey with someone.
What does that look like in practice?
Dell: It’s important to find a way to be in rhythm remotely with your partner. This is where seduction comes in—finding the things that both of you want in the moment. It’s a dance. If you’re both feeling lazy, maybe you [sext about] something slow and sexy, like lying on a beach together, or hiding away in a secret cove. You can build slowly, talking about the feeling of the ocean on your toes. It’s that back-and-forth where you find a rhythm and a space of shared sexuality that you can then dive deep into.
Very practically, sexting is about telling stories to each other using photos and specific language. For instance, describing what a touch feels like on the side of your neck, or why you find the smell of cut grass or coconut super-sexy. What’s the memory that it triggers? The more you incorporate details, the richer it is, and the more you’re bringing someone on your journey.
How can sexting lead to personal growth?
Dell: I’ve learned a whole lot about myself through sexting. Sexting is a way to talk about sex—how we feel about sex, what we like and don’t like. The articulation of desire helps you understand it. Some of my past sexting partners were never physical; we just talked about sex a lot, and it was so much fun and a great opportunity to learn more about what I wanted. We would do roleplay or spin this whole fantasy, and then afterward I would take inventory about what felt good and what didn’t.
What feels good in text is often different than what feels good in the real world, but it is a way to explore in our imagination and facilitate discovery.
How does Amorus help its users do that?
Dell: Amorus at its core is a secure messaging app with a real focus on pleasure and intimacy and sex and sensuality. Sexuality is so personal; we don’t share it very often. How can we help people facilitate those conversations? Some of the app’s features include games to help you flirt and sexy conversation prompts to help introduce new ideas. The idea is to give people the ember they need to start a raging flame between themselves and their partner. We also have sexy photo jigsaw puzzles, a special emoji set designed for sexual communication, and a Tinder-like “Fantasy Swipe” feature that allows people to match based on shared fantasies. It’s a way to disclose the things you desire, but do it with a sense of safety.
A lot of people are hesitant or self-conscious about sexting. What’s your message for them?
Dell: If both you and your partner are enjoying yourselves, you’re doing it right. It’s what you make of it. It can have a lot of forms: sharing something you think is sexy about the other person, reminiscing about great sex, telling your partner about a sexy dream. One of the reasons I designed Amorus is that it acts as its own intro [into sexting] – someone might ask their partner, “Do you want to try this? I heard about this app, it might be fun.” It helps ramp up those conversations a little bit easier.
My two pieces of advice are: remember to ask, and remember to seduce. Conversations about consent are critical, but asking can also be really sexy. Also, seduction matters: the best type of sexting is a narrative that builds and has a peak. You don’t have to go straight to dick pic or full-body naked shots—send a series of pictures featuring your toes under the covers and work your way up. Give it space and time, and that’s where it will be delicious.