Maybe you landed a dream-job 3,000 miles away (congrats, boss babe!) and are now "giving long distance a try." Or maybe a worldwide pandemic hit and thrust you into an accidental long-distance relationship (plot twist!). Or heck, maybe you recently took advantage of Tinder's Passport Feature and what started as a coping mechanism for coronavirus-induced anxiety somehow landed you with a lover you have no real hope of seeing IRL anytime soon (lol, just me??).
Anyway. Whatever the reason, here you are, in a long-distance relationship, wondering: Is it just me and my vibrator from here on out? Is my relationship doomed to bed death and monotonous Facetime calls? Rest assured, horny LDR-ers, you can absolutely continue using your vibrator, but that's not the only way for you to get your fiddle twiddled or noodle wet.
"Sex and intimacy are absolutely achievable for couples who aren't physically together—but that sex and intimacy might just look different than in-person sex and intimacy do," says Rachel Wright, M.A., L.M.F.T., psychotherapist and marriage and relationship expert.
Below, Wright and other sex educators share tips for regularly enjoying sexual intimacy, whether you're three miles apart quarantining separately, 300 miles apart, or even farther.
Get saucy and sensual with sexting.
Spoiler alert: Getting techy is a big part of fanning the flame from afar. One of the best ways? Sex-texting. Invite your partner to have an NSFW convo with you (yes, you need consent!). If they respond with the drool-face emoji, try these sexting ideas for long-distance relationships from certified sex coach Gigi Engle, Womanizer sexpert and the author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A guide to sex, love, and life:
- Leave no detail unsaid about what you would do to them if they knock on your door right now.
- Tell them from your POV (with explicit detail) what your first time together was like for you. Or that insanely hot night on the beach. Or the time you killed a bottle of wine and tried something new. "Remembering a past shared sexual experience is a great way to get started," says Engle.
- If you're touching yourself, describe to your partner what you're doing to yourself right now. (For more sexting tips, check out this sex-texting guide).
Before you include some visual extensions of these hot and heavy words, make sure your partner is down to receive them. "Sending a photo without explicit consent is virtual assault," says Wright.
And for your future self's sake: Crop out any identifying tattoos or features. "There's always the possibility of revenge porn, so take a moment to think about how you might feel if this photo gets leaked five or ten years from now," says Haley Hasen, sex educator and erotic laborer.
Kiss me through the phone ? (aka have phone sex).
If it's hot to read texts about how bad your partner wishes they could taste you, imagine how much hotter it would be if you could hear them telling you. Enter: phone sex.
"With phone sex, you don't get the sight, touch, or smell of your partner, which really amplifies your sense of sound," says Engle. She adds, "It's lower-stakes than video sex because there's zero potential of someone doing something sketchy like recording you." (Hopefully, you're not dating someone who would ever do that, but her point is a good one.)
Wonder how to have phone sex, exactly? (Like, what do you even say?) If the tingles have got your tongue, Engle suggests recalling a memory. "A simple starter line like, 'Do you remember when...' is usually enough to kick the convo into gear," she says. Plus, it invites your partner to participate, so the whole share of the talking isn't on you.
Another option: Explore a fantasy together...even if it's one you never want to try IRL. "Just because you think pegging or threesomes are hot to talk and fantasize about doesn't mean that's something you ever have to try if you don't want," says Engle.
Try, saying 'group sex isn't something I actually want to try in real life, but I think it could be fun to talk through what watching you taste someone else while having sex with me would be like. Is that something you'd be down to try?' or 'I know we've talked about having anal sex IRL, but I'm still really nervous. I think talking through a fantasy of it could help me feel more comfortable to actually try it. What do you think?'.
After, Engle suggests checking in with your partner. How did that phone sex make you feel? How did it make them feel? If you talked through a fantasy, is it still a fantasy or is it eventually something you want to explore IRL? Is it something they might want to try again?
Send erotic audio messages back and forth.
Love sexting but find phone sex a little daunting? Hasen offers a genius middle-ground for long-distance relationship sexting: home-made audio-erotica. That's right, babes, voice memos just got a whole lot kinkier.
"Read erotica on porn sites like Bellesa or listen to audio erotica apps like Dipsea for inspiration," she says. Then, have fun recording clips of yourself telling your partner how much you loved the last time you ~made love~. (Related: The Best Sex Apps for Spicing Up Intimacy)
You can ease into, too. "Send short clips of yourself moaning or breathing heavy," suggests Hasen. Hot, right?
Try video sex.
Skype sex/video sex is where it's at for visual learners in LDRs. But, that doesn't mean you need to hop on the call dressed in your birthday suit. If you were together in person, you and your partner would normally have time together (think: eating dinner, grabbing beer, binging Tiger King) before hopping into bed. Wright suggests mimicking that via video.
Plan date night in advance, and plop it in your calendar. Agree to go all out and show up in formal attire currently collecting dust in your closet. Or agree to try a new recipe from that Alison Roman cookbook. Or plan a Netflix-and-chill night complete with Budweiser, Too Hot to Handle, and sweats.
"[This] will help establish a sense of normalcy while helping you both feel more comfortable if the video does lead to you both un-robing," she says. To transition from the romance part of the evening to the R-rated part of the evening, you might say: "If you were here right now, I'd be taking you into the bedroom." Even, "Ugh I miss you! I just want to jump your bones" will work!
When the sex part of the evening commences, "set up the phone or computer so your partner can see only what your comfortable with them seeing," suggests Engle. ""You don't need to show them everything just because you're having video sex!" Just being able to see each other's faces while you mutually masturbate can be hot. If you're planning to touch yourself on camera, "please use lube and don't be afraid to bring in your favorite sex toy," says Engle. (See More: How to Make Mutual Masturbation Super Hot).
V important safety tip: Many platforms (Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype, to name a few) explicitly forbid you from using their technology to share explicit content and nudity, says Hasen. So your Skype sex may have to be Facetime sex (which is safer).
Try a long-distance sex toy.
If the fact that there are sex toys that recreate the sensation of oral sex didn't convince you that sextech rocks, this will: There are sex toys that let your partner control the vibration and intensity from anywhere(!) in the(!) world(!).
For more great long-distance sex toy options, you can also check out these panty vibrators for on-the-DL pleasure.
Play a long-distance sex game.
Quit your eye-roll! Sex games for long-distance relationships aren't cheesy; they're an innovative way to keep your sex life fresh. "They're just fun and sex is supposed to be fun," says Wright. Need ideas?
Or, of course, you can DIY your own version with dares you can do from afar. You could also start a two-person erotica book club (you can even use online erotica), or agree on a night to send each other your favorite porn.
Don't snooze on your solo sex practice.
For the record: This stands whether your S.O. is your roommate or lives across town/the globe. "Your sexuality shouldn't solely be tied to your partner(s), and you shouldn't solely rely on your partner(s) for sexual pleasure," says Wright. (Doing so is the fast track to codependency and resentment.). Maintaining a solo sex life isn't just "okay," it's healthy, she says.
In fact, research has shown that those who engage in solo sessions have better]sex lives with their partners. It makes sense if you think about it: Masturbating helps you learn what strokes, rhythms, vibrations bring you the most pleasure. It gives you ~insider info~ you can relay to your partner during partnered-play (because no partner is a mind-reader). Further, the more you have sex and orgasms, the more your body craves them. The reason? Orgasm releases feel-good hormones and endorphins (think: oxytocin and dopamine), which Wright says can be addictive, making you want more of them and, hence, more sex. So, having solo sex can actually result in an overall libido boost, which may make you more interested in virtual/in-person romps with your boo, explains Wright.
Before you bone in person? Take the pressure off.
No doubt, weeks of virtual f*cking and fantasizing about the in-person sex, can make the IRL sexperience nerve-wracking! "Don't be shy about letting your partner know that you're nervous," says Engle. You might say (or text): 'I can't wait to finally feel you against me, but wow, I'm so nervous!' Or, 'I'm nervous I'm not going to live up to my sexts in person, so if you could be extra verbal that would be really helpful for me.'
And please don't get shit-faced ahead of time, she says. "Getting drunk or high before hopping in bed is just going to exacerbate your nerves and inhibit your sexual responses."
Take comfort in the fact that good sex is all about good communication, according to Wright. Chances are, all the digital getting down you've been doing has likely made you and your partner better at communicating.