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Reddit’s DirtyPenPals Is a Master Class in Next-Level Sexting

It's one thing to sext ‘U up?’ It's another to pen a fully developed three-part series with plotting and character development

“You’re my boss, and since you’re still working from home, you invite me over to your house to go over a project. I dress up professionally on the outside, yet I put on sexy red lingerie and stockings underneath and I head over to your place. From here, there are two choices.” That’s part of a typical prompt at Reddit’s DirtyPenPals (DPP), a community dedicated to “[finding] a connection with someone through creative writing and erotic conversation.”

Users post a fantasy, their kinks and their boundaries, and interested readers build on the prompt in private messages. If two people click, they’ll write back and forth over the course of days or weeks until the scene hopefully comes to a conclusion roughly 30 to 40 times more satisfying than a typo-laden bout of tepid sexting. 

DPP is far from the only adult roleplaying community on Reddit, but it’s notable for both its size (more than 283,000 subscribers) and its dedication to the craft of writing — there are weekly roundtables and an entire workshop subcommunity designed to hone both the erotic and mundane elements of users’ prose. Given that the internet has an endless cavalcade of visual porn capable of providing immediate sexual gratification, what’s the appeal of using the written word and delaying that release for days?

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“I discovered DPP through a profile linked by a nude photo,” explains redditor tasteyfriedgolem. “I followed the link and found a cornucopia of NOT the same old, same old. The playing field is level, everyone [can be] a cute young model with the opportunity for actual relationship building. We can write about things we like alongside a real person, without judgment beating down our creativity.”

That creativity can range from simple prompts — telling users “I’m tied up for you to play with” and encouraging them to go from there — to modest storylines about nervously hitting on a member of the college dance team or comforting a pregnant colleague who’s been dumped by her partner, to proposing epics that need thousands of words to establish the basics of the fictional universes they’re set in. Some scenarios are proxies for the user and their real-life circumstances, allowing them to play out fantasies they either can’t or shouldn’t indulge in person. Others are completely removed from the writer’s life or reality entirely, so they can become new people or another sentient species. 

Regardless of the depth and depravity of a NSFW DPP prompt, what makes the community stand out is its confidence. Unlike many people navigating sex in real life, they’re not afraid to ask for exactly what they want. Leah, a pseudonym, says that it “feels amazing to [spell out what I want]. I’ve brought up my kinky side to my friends, and they’ve been weirded out or have no interest. Whether it’s giantess, lactation, gangbangs, outdoor sex or body worship, they just never seem to get it the way I do. I live in a small town in a small, rural state. The internet is a gateway to the largest collection of people, and I’m thankful I have access to it because I know I’d be a different person without it.”

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And while a DPP scene between two people can fail, too, Leah explains that when it works, it really works. “A good exchange is when each partner understands one another so well that we both know exactly what we want from the story as well as the characters, and it almost feels like if the roles were reversed, we’d still write the same lines,” she says. 

“A great exchange, in my opinion, [begins with] understanding that characters are alter egos of us,” adds tasteyfriedgolem. “We write who we are without hangups getting in our own way. We maintain our personal lives separately. But while we write, that’s our life and our reality, fleeting as it may be.” All of this takes time and effort, but they compare that investment to “waiting for my favorite person in the world to come home. Reading a job well done and knowing that my partner put in their time and effort to help me see it through — what’s not to like about that kind of relationship?”

Not every user is looking for a serious commitment, and if you want to brainstorm the characters and themes of a fringe idea before the story gets salacious, it can sometimes be difficult to find a good partner. But Leah says the payoff is worth it. “I look for descriptions and effort,” she tells me. “Why should I put in the effort to describe my feelings and actions to get a response back like, ‘My dick is now hard. Suck it’? If you describe what you’re feeling, seeing and thinking, it makes a world of difference.” 

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Surprisingly, multimedia has a place in DPP as well. A redditor named shinobisoraya notes that even though people keep their own bodies private on the sub, supplemental visuals can help make the interaction feel far more specific. “I REALLY love using imagery, GIFs and videos to enhance any scene I write,” she says. “To give a simple example, if the scene involved a character giving a blow job with her hand around his thick member, and the other groping her own breast, I’d find an image or GIF of a similar scene and link it to my partner. It’s way hotter that way, as we effectively write erotica that also has a visual side — something like a visual novel.”

Still, in the end, it’s the words that win out, providing DPP with its true thrill. As sinobisoraya says, “From that standpoint, DPP is the best roleplay forum I’ve ever found, and it feels amazing to be able to write whatever kind of scenario/prompt you want, and get replies for it. I guess I always had this side of me where I like to be a creator. It’s fun, and a good way to stretch my creative muscles.”

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