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Just the Tips: I’m Over Having Skype Sex

Just the Tips: I’m Over Having Skype Sex: © Helen King / Corbis

© Helen King / Corbis

Dear Katherine,

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but if given the choice between real sex and Skype/FaceTime sex, obviously I’d choose real sex.

My fear is that Skype sex has this rep of being a great way to stay intimate with a romantic partner who is far away, when in fact it is just about the least intimate thing you can do. Furthermore, and more dangerously, it’s maybe something that I’ve been allowing to lull me into complacency in thinking I have a great “relationship” in the classic formal sense, when really it’s keeping me tied to something/someone that I ought to give up on because he is too far away for us to regularly have real sex.

I’m in my 20s and in a long distance relationship with a guy I’ve been seeing for a few months now, and I’m getting sick of it. Is there a world in which Skype sex can actually keep two people close, or am I just kidding myself? I’m at an age where I am the hottest I’ll ever be, and I live in a densely populated city, so why am I having more virtual sex than real sex? Is it a defense mechanism in the way I’m beginning to suspect all sustained long-distance relationships are defense mechanisms?

Thanks,
Over Skyped

Dearest Over Skyped,

Long distance puts strain on even the closest couples. A friend of mine who was a veteran of a three-year long distance relationship once advised me about my own, saying, “Well, as long as you have a plan you’ll be fine.” I had no such plan.

She is now getting married to the same person she was dating at the time so I guess her plan worked. Of course, part of that plan has to do with intimacy. We can feel terribly far from people lying right next to us, but physical intimacy is, for most, an essential part of a romantic relationship. There is no replacement for a warm human body, and added distance makes us feel extra lonely. But is virtual sex really an antidote or is it, as you say, a “defense mechanism?”

Virtual sex has been maligned by many others. Instead, I’d like to offer you some alternative forms of intimacy as well engage some of the deeper questions at issue. My response comes in two parts: “Small Steps” and “Big Thoughts.”


SMALL STEPS

It sounds like your question is more about how to foster long-distance intimacy than about how to be better at Skype Sex. Here are some small steps to take you in that direction.

SEXTING
This can be a great alternative to Skype sex, especially with somebody you’re already involved with. Some of us are more visual; others more verbal. The “real time” of video sex can be pretty high-pressure for many of us and sexting can leave a bit of space for erotic imagination. Read more on specifics here: http://www.playboy.com/articles/just-the-tips-sexting

DIRTY T-SHIRT CONTEST
I know this sounds weird but I think it’s kind of amazing. I’ve always maintained that smell is the most sensual of all the senses, and some scientists agree. Part of the struggle of distance is that you can never have the whole person at once. You can get a voice or an image of them but of course that’s not the full package, so to speak. Here’s a thought: go for a run to burn off your sexual frustration, then pop that T-shirt in a Ziploc and drop it in the mailbox. Request the same in return. Nothing is more intimate than a lover’s scent.

WRITE IT DOWN
Have you read Anais Nin’s letters to Henry Miller? He wrote to her after their first affair, “I came away with pieces of you sticking to me; I am walking about, swimming, in an ocean of blood, your Andalusian blood, distilled and poisonous.” Those two sentences beat Skype Sex six ways to Sunday. Put pen to paper to erotic imagination and see what you come up with. Literary intimacy is protracted, and delayed gratification is the hottest form of gratification.

THROW MONEY AT THE SITUATION
I don’t know if you have money, but if you do, throw it at this situation. I have never regretted hopping on a bus, train or plane to go see somebody I was in love with. I have never regretted the sizable portion of debt I’ve wracked up due to those choices. Nothing beats the real thing, and you’re young. So go do it. Like, now.


BIG THOUGHTS

So now that we’ve addressed pragmatic suggestions for your pixelated problem, let’s talk about some of the bigger questions you raise.

“THE SEMBLANCE OF A RELATIONSHIP”
Your terminology here piques my interest. The fact that you’re asking me this tells me that you probably already feel as though the relationship you’re in is insufficient. That being said, I suggest you ask yourself the following a hard question: “What do I need to feel satisfied with another person in a relationship?” If physical proximity is on that list, and pretty high up, you’re not getting what you need, and it’s time for things to change.

VIRTUAL SEX VS. REAL SEX
You seem frustrated by this distinction. I suggest discussing with your partner the things that make you uncomfortable about virtual sex. Is it the awkward camera holding? The pressure to “perform” in a certain way? Sharing these insecurities might actually be an opportunity to forge more real intimacy between the two of you by virtual means.

KIDDING YOURSELF
The “am I kidding myself” question is always a good one, but I think there can actually be ways to use virtual sex to expand your real sex life. A friend of mine who is particularly down with virtual sex explained to me that it can be an opportunity to explore fantasies that you actually don’t want to act out in real life or don’t have time to. “The distance gives you a license to talk more explicitly about your fantasy life,” he tells me. “You can be like, ‘If I were there I’d do this thing you want that we haven’t gotten around to cause it’s little complicated and we’d need a third person or a dungeon or a bouncy castle.” What’s your bouncy castle equivalent? Ask for it…

THE END GAME
My dear friend, whom I mentioned earlier, was right about having a plan. If you’re hot and heavy with somebody and can see a shared future involving cohabitation, mutual TV watching and in-person sex, then you have to make a plan for when and how that’s going to happen. Otherwise all of the memories you have of the relationship will be of distance and dissatisfaction, and they’ll replace the happy ones. Let’s be honest, what is a relationship but a collection of shared memories, anyway? Next time you see your partner in person bring up an exit strategy that will bring you (physically) closer.

Finally: enjoy your present situation. Living in the same place as the person you’re seeing doesn’t mean you’ll like things any better. Furthermore, living together can even be the downfall of “real” sex. So enjoy the juiciness of this virtual intimacy for the time being, just keep your eye on the expiration date.

xK


Have a question for Katherine Cooper about sex, love or dating? Email her at justthetips@playboy.com.


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