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Thirst Trap: What It is, Why It Screams ‘I Want Attention’ & How to Ace It

What does “thirst trap” mean in internet culture? If you inherently love seeking attention and showing your physical attractiveness with your sexual photos on social media, or if sexy selfies are the only selfies you take, read this!

thirst trap

The selfie is a rite of passage and one that does no harm. Everyone wants to get a little positive attention from time to time, and it can give you a real confidence boost. However, there is another type of selfie designed to grab maximum attention and impact – the thirst trap.

Most of us spend the first part of a night out trying to find the most flattering angle, taking the best photos, and capturing the perfect look with a snap on Facebook or Instagram.

The first few selfies of the night tend to be careful, perfectly orchestrated, and filtered within an inch of their lives. As the night wears on, caution wanes, and the selfies become more ‘in the moment.’

So, what is the difference between an innocent selfie and a thirst trap? [Read: The 12 important details you need for how to take a sexy selfie]

What does the term “thirst trap” mean, and do they work?

You will have seen a thirst trap on Instagram, Facebook, or maybe Snapchat, even if you didn’t know at the time what it was. This is a selfie with a key difference.

A thirst trap is likely to be far from just a face. It is more likely to be full-body, or showing a certain part of the body.

The term first appeared in 2011 both on Twitter and Urban Dictionary with the definition of “any statement used to intentionally create attention or ‘thirst’.” Today, the concept has evolved into a provocative selfie or video accompanied by a flirty message, posted on social media with the aim of displaying one’s attractiveness. “Thirst” implies sexual frustration.

For instance, a woman might take a thirst trap selfie with her cleavage showing or while wearing booty shorts. A man might take a selfie with a brooding look on his face, with his chest looking buff and tanned.

One would post thirst trap selfies basically to attract attention. That post isn’t there for cute responses, it’s there because of a desire for seriously sexy remarks.

A single person may post a thirst trap to find someone to meet up with – we’re talking about a digital age booty call without words. [Read: Sense of self – 26 steps to raise it and feel like a million bucks]

The main aim of a thirst trap is to:

a. get attention, and

b. attract as many comments as possible.

It’s also likely to result in several people responding with private messages that are far from innocent. There is nothing cute and “look at how nice my day was” about this type of selfie. It’s purely designed for maximum sexiness and attention.

Do they work? When done correctly, yes, they do. They grab attention and cause compliments to be sent to the thirst trapper.

Isn’t that the sole aim? [Read: How to be sexy and own your own unique attractiveness]

Are thirst traps a bad thing?

Yes and no.

A thirst trap done in the right way can be very effective, e.g. if it is aimed at one particular person who you’re trying to attract the attention of. In some cases however, the picture can be too thirsty – going too far and simply causing people to tell you to put your clothes back on. [Read: Dangers of social media – Why it makes you feel really insecure]

If you’re innocently using a thirst trap without a desperate need for comments and external validation, then we suppose there’s nothing too harmful in it. That is unless you start trying to thirst trap your followers all the time.

Maybe you’re just feeling cute or attractive and want to tell the world. There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, if you’re setting a thirst trap because you feel you need to do it in order to feel good, that’s a red flag. If you can’t find confidence without someone else commenting on how you look, you need to do some soul-searching. [Read: 15 smooth ways to get your crush’s attention and catch their eye]

Why set a thirst trap?

There are four reasons why most people set a thirst trap.

1. They’re having a down day and want a boost to their ego

2. Attempting to show someone what they’re missing, e.g. someone who has turned them down or their ex [Read: Are you still in love with your ex?]

3. They’re trying to keep up with a false reality they’ve created online

4. They want to make someone else feel bad

None of these are particularly constructive when you break them down. They all point to low self-esteem, desperation, and a need to receive validation to feel good. Perhaps it’s time to seek out good feelings from other things, like enjoying a hobby or working on your career. [Read: How to be comfortable with yourself: A guide to not giving a f*ck]

The problem is, like it or not, we’re all appearance-focused these days. We want to look good for ourselves, but we need those compliments and likes to validate that we do actually look good. We don’t take our own word for it, and instead we need someone else to say it before we believe it.

You can try and find other excuses if you want to, but most of us fit into this niche. Post a selfie, pout a little, show a little skin, and wait for the compliments to come your way. You might also harbor hopes that a special someone you have your eye on will see your photograph or flirty message posted too.

We’re only human after all. [Read: How to get your crush to like you]

How thirst traps can benefit your self-esteem, or damage it

By now, you’ve probably realized that the whole thirst trap subject is a gray area. It’s something most of us have done once or twice, but doing it too much isn’t particularly positive.

But, we can’t deny that when people tell you how great you look, it’s a real feel-good boost. Who doesn’t want to feel that way? It’s a way to gain validation and acceptance publicly, which when you think about it, is something we all have a right to seek.

But, when you depend on other people’s opinions to satisfy your need for validation rather than being happy within yourself, that’s a problem. [Read: 10 signs of low self-esteem and 5 ways to increase it]

At some point, those comments will stop. People will become bored of your bare-almost-all selfies and will either ignore them or start posting negatively. What then? That’s not great for your confidence, is it?

So, while there is nothing wrong with a harmless ‘look at me’ selfie occasionally, it becomes a problem when it’s something you NEED to do in order to feel good. Thirst traps can boost your self-esteem, but at some point they will start to harm it. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]

Can thirst traps be dangerous?

It depends. If you’re happily married or in a serious relationship, your partner might take serious issues with you posting sexy snaps for someone else to like.

Would you like your partner to do the same thing? Probably not.

It could also mean that you’re sending out the wrong impression of yourself. Sure, you look great. You’re sexy as hell and everyone’s salivating over your latest snap, but is that what you want to be known for? [Read: Dirty Snapchats – how to stay safe while sharing your sexy pics]

You could have the greatest brain in the world, but if you constantly post photos showing half of your body with a pout in place, they’re not going to focus on you, they’ll focus on the outer image you’re projecting. This could be a source of frustration.

Even if you’re trying to get someone’s attention (e.g. a crush you haven’t the nerve to ask out directly), they might mistake your intentions for something else entirely!

It basically comes down to what you’re trying to achieve and what it means to you. [Read: How to send nudes that sizzle without getting burned]

When it all backfires …

Is it possible for a thirst trap to backfire? Yes, spectacularly.

We’ve already mentioned that you can be a little too thirsty; people are going to cringe when they see that photo, no matter how sexy you think it is. Less really is more, and we’re not talking about clothing.

It’s also important to set only one thirst trap and never attempt to keep repeating the process. One might work, more than one and people are going to think you’re in training to become a top shelf magazine model. Nobody wants that kind of reputation!

A thirst trap has to be in-keeping with who you are. Otherwise it’s going to come over as fake and contrived, rather than you simply showing a sexier side of yourself. [Read: 16 signs you’re an insufferable “attention whore”]

How to set the perfect thirst trap

If you’re keen on trying a thirst trap, there are a few rules to help you get it right. Remember, going all out for your first thirst trap is likely to bring many comments to your social media feed.

Don’t allow your head to swell! Comments are one thing, but genuine respect isn’t going to come from a sexy photo.

If you’re keen to go ahead, bear these points in mind. [Read: How to be comfortable with yourself: a guide to not giving a f*ck]

1. Post only one picture of this type and don’t repeat it too often.

2. Find the right lighting. Harsh lighting won’t work – think soft and subtle.

3. Choose your clothing carefully. Don’t go half naked, it doesn’t look great. Instead, opt for a hint of sexiness, e.g. a hint of cleavage, a few buttons undone on the chest…

4. Make eye contact with the camera. [Read: 18 tips to look incredibly hot and go from wallflower to flawless]

5. A coy smile will work wonders, e.g. a ‘come hither’ look.

Remember, you might think that wearing as little as possible and posing in an overly sexy way is going to get the attention of the one you want, but it’s more likely to backfire. Stick to subtle. In this case, they will wonder about you, and mystery is something extremely sexy, no matter what you’re wearing or the pose you choose.

These are the guidelines which will give you a good outcome from your snap, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the intended reaction from a certain someone.

If you get comments from people which are less than flattering, i.e. offering to meet you for whatever reason *definitely not for coffee*, then simply delete the post and move on.

This is one of the biggest side effects of setting a thirst trap – unwanted attention from the one you’re not attempting to get it from! [Read: How attention seeking behavior also drives some to seek drama]

Don’t fall into the trap! The common thirst trap signs you need to be aware of

Of course, learning about thirst traps isn’t all about understanding how to set one. Maybe you’re keen to avoid falling into one too!

So, what are the biggest thirst trap signs to look for?

1. Everything is totally physical

If this is a person you’re following or friends with, it’s unlikely that they’ll post about the great day out they had with friends or the amazing meal they just ate.

They’re far more likely to post about something purely physical. Be it a constant stream of slightly revealing photos, or a suggestive comment designed to grab attention. [Read: What makes someone an attention seeker and how to read these traits]

2. Everything is suggestive

Everything is done in a suggestive manner. The way they drink from a bottle, how they hold their knife and fork, the way they eat, the way they pout, and even the caption. Regardless of what they’re doing in the photo, it is done not only to show their beauty, but also to suggest a flirtatious mood or elicit sexual attention.

You can see it with just one glance.

3. A constant stream of random people’s likes and comments

If you check the likes and comments on the thirsty pic, you’ll see that they’re from total strangers. The comments are usually equally suggestive.

Basically, the thirst trap has worked. [Read: 34 life-changing steps to fall in love with yourself all over again]

4. A revealing position and an abundance of flesh

While it’s possible to take a thirsty snap with just a “come hither” look, it’s far more likely to feature flesh. There will be just enough naked flesh to make you think they’re going too far.

The position is also likely to be something akin to a rather naughty yoga pose.

5. Are they squinting? Oh no, it’s supposed to be sexy

The look on their face, especially their eyes, makes them look like they’re attempting to seduce you from the screen. You might think they look like they need an eye test.

The intention is flirtatious; those are bedroom eyes. It’s also likely to be accompanied by a pout which would make a very big-lipped fish jealous. [Read: What are bedroom eyes? How to master the art of seductive eyes]

6. The pic is usually posted at night

One of the biggest thirst trap signs is that the picture is posted late at night, usually after eight. The reason? Nobody feels thirsty first thing in the morning!

This is also designed to get maximum likes, because this is when most people are scrolling through social media. Sneaky!

7. If you suspect heavy editing, you’re probably right

No thirsty pic is left without heavy editing and filters. If you suspect a little Photoshop fun has been going on, it’s likely true.

Snapchat filters are common with thirst traps, but it’s also likely to be waists nipped in a little, faces contoured, muscles made more bulging, etc. You get the idea, but none of it is based in reality. [Read: 10 online posts that will turn off potential partners]

8. Do you even know this person?

A common thirst trap sign is that you don’t actually know the person. It’s a random snap that has been shared or liked by a friend and then found its way onto your feed as a result.

That is the aim – more people, more exposure, more likes, more comments.

9. It’s not a photo you’d appreciate your partner taking and sharing

If you look at the photo and think “wow, I bet their partner isn’t pleased,” it’s likely a thirst trap sign, whether they actually have a partner or not.

Think about how you’d feel if your partner took that same photo and shared it. If you don’t like the feeling, you know you’re on the brink of a thirst trap! [Read: How self-respect affects you and your relationships]

Pros and cons of dating a thirst trapper

You might wonder why anyone would want to date an obsessive thirst trapper. After all, they shouldn’t be thirst trapping others when they’re in a relationship, right?

Well, some people do. While others don’t think that what they’re doing is actually too bad – a few likes and a confidence boost occasionally is easy to justify.

There aren’t many pros to dating a thirst trapper. The only one we can think of is that they’re pretty high on confidence and that’s often a good thing. But, the downsides are plentiful – too much confidence can be a bad thing too. [Read: Confident or cocky? 16 subtle signs that spilt an arrogant from a modest man]

The fact that they feel the need to gain validation from others tells you that they’re probably not taking the relationship too seriously. Would they like it if you started posting thirsty pics and getting suggestive comments? Probably not.

If your partner is a lover of thirst traps, perhaps it’s time to sit down and talk about how it makes you feel. And, if you’re guilty of it yourself, maybe you should turn the situation around and question how you would feel if your partner was doing this instead.

[Read: How to impress your crush – 25 tips to steal their heart effortlessly]

At the end of the day, we set a thirst trap for serious impact. We do it because we want attention and comments which boost our self-esteem. But are there better ways to get what you need?

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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