Cyber sex has been around since the beginning of the internet, but the technology of today has made it much more prevalent. From sexting to FaceTime sessions, couples everywhere who can't be together physically are getting down virtually. But when you're new to virtual sex, it can seem intimidating or even embarrassing. In order to help ease the angst of virtual virgins and up the game of seasoned veterans, POPSUGAR spoke to several experts on how to have a fulfilling virtual sex life. Keep reading for a complete guide to virtual sex.
1. Set Boundaries
"Virtual sex helps us stay connected romantically because the visual and/or audio of your partner triggers the same neurons in your brain as if you were having sex with them in real life, which helps satisfy some of our needs for intimate connection," Caitlin V., M.P.H., clinical sexologist for vegan-friendly condom and lubricant company Royal, told POPSUGAR. But if you're going to go down the virtual sex road with your partner, it's important to first set boundaries. After all, you don't want to be receiving X-Rated photos while trying to focus on a conference call.
Caitlin recommends talking to your partner beforehand about names you do (or don't) like being called, sex acts you are (and aren't) interested in fantasizing about, and the times of day and night you're open to receiving explicit photographs. "Remember that safety is the foundation for great in-person sexual experiences, as well as great virtual ones," she said.
It's also important to understand your own internal boundaries. Think beforehand about what you're willing to do, say, and show, and what will make you feel too vulnerable or self-conscious. "The more you explore your internal limits and feelings in advance of getting naked, the more likely you will be able to stay present and comfortable in the actual experience," Isharna Walsh, founder and CEO of sexual education and wellness app Coral, told POPSUGAR.
2. Choose Your Medium
These days there are plenty of options for virtual sex, from texting and video calls to good old-fashioned phone sex. They all come with their own set of advantages, so it's important to choose a medium that will make you most comfortable. "I love the idea of phone sex versus video sex because I think it can feel less intimidating and it leaves more to the imagination," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, resident sexologist at ASTROGLIDE, told POPSUGAR. "Oftentimes talking on the phone will encourage you to open up in new ways, as you won't be distracted by trying to interpret your partner's body language or facial expressions."
But she also says not to overlook texting. "You have so many options when it comes to sexting — you can use words, GIFs, emojis, voice notes, photos, and videos to pique your partner's interest," she explained. "And you can take a minute to craft your message and edit as needed to ensure that it conveys your intended message."
3. Set the Mood
"Having virtual intimacy can be a great opportunity for you to hone in on creating a space of sensuality, which will continue to support you even after your virtual sensual journey has ended," Megwyn White, Director of Education for sexual wellness company Satisfyer, told POPSUGAR. She recommends setting up your space for minimal distractions by shutting down any devices you aren't using and clearing up any clutter.
But don't forget that before the camera and the action comes the lights. "For video sex, lighting is one of the most important things so that you can feel your best and really get into the moment," Caitlin explained. "Play around with the lighting and angles before you get on the video with your partner and consider getting a tripod or a stand that can hold your phone or tablet, so that you can use both hands to enjoy yourself."
This is also a chance to get creative and incorporate more of your senses. Light some scented candles or incense and play some soft music. "Rhythm and sexuality go hand in hand, so bringing music into the mix will naturally invite you and your partner to get in the mood and help to melt anxieties that might be looming," said Megwyn.
4. Ease Into It
Even in the digital world, good things take time. "Believe it or not, foreplay counts, even when sexting," said Caitlin. "Easing into the act can help create a more intense experience for all parties."
Dr. Jess agrees, adding that anticipation is the key to heightened pleasure. "Research suggests that dopamine levels – a chemical associated with pleasure and reward – are actually higher while awaiting the reward than upon receipt of the reward itself," she said. She recommends texting sound clips of sexy sounds, recording an audio clip of yourself masturbating, or sending a voice text telling your partner exactly what you want as ways to build excitement leading up to your virtual escapade.
Once a video session begins, Isharna recommends a slow reveal of body parts as a means of foreplay. "This is an opportunity to get creative and can be incredibly sensual and exciting if you're willing to experiment," she said.
5. Bring Reinforcements
In the absence of a physical partner, consider utilizing some extras, like lingerie or toys, to aid in the endeavor. "Feeling sexy translates into being sexy," said Megwyn. "Wear clothes that allow you to unleash your sensuality."
"This is a time to indulge in your fantasies," Dr. Michael Krychman, board certified OBGYN and sexual health expert at bedroom accessories and sexual wellness company Pure Romance, told POPSUGAR. He recommends exploring with feathers, ticklers, arousing gels, and popular toys like finger vibrators. "There are many erotic and erogenous zones besides the genitals," he explained. "Explore with your fingers or a self-stimulator."
Megwyn agrees it's a great time to play around with pleasure products, stating they can help release tensions that might be inhibiting you from dropping into your body. "Let your partner know how you're using it or ask them to direct you into touching different zones, like nipples or inner thighs," she said. "Be open to describing sensations which can invite them more into your sensual world and inspire them to feel what you are feeling."
6. Communication Is Key
Because you're not physically with each other, a satisfying virtual tryst depends heavily on communication. "When talking dirty, use compelling language and be as detailed and descriptive as possible so that your partner can be totally immersed in the fantasy," recommended Caitlin. "Ask open-ended questions to allow your fantasy and your partner's fantasy to mesh into one."
Your body can also be a great communicator. Megwyn explains that we have something called "mirror neurons," which means that as we watch movement and experience, our brains will activate the same neurons as though we were actually doing the action we're watching. "This is great news for virtual sexual journeys and means that as you touch yourself and share it with your partner, they have the potential to experience it on an even more visceral level," she said. "Let your partner know the quality of the touch, how it feels, and let your face and voice express the experience to help transmit the opportunity for mirror neurons to fire."
7. Don't Hang Up Too Soon
There can't exactly be cuddling after virtual sex, which Megwyn warns could be unsettling for those who usually like to snuggle up to the partner post-coitus. Instead, she recommends using the end of the call to discuss some of the high points of the experience or virtually tuck your partner into bed. "Dropping the call too quickly after an orgasm or after revealing your sexual desires can feel incredibly jarring to the system," said Megwyn. "Allow yourself to bring presence to the fact that things are winding down."