How old are you?
Woman A: Twenty-four.
Man A: Twenty-seven.
Woman B: Twenty-four.
Man B: Twenty-five.
What's your sexual orientation?
Woman A: Straight.
Man A: Gay.
Woman B: Straight.
Man B: Hetero.
How long have you been (or were you) in a long-distance relationship, and where were you located? Why did you decide to do long-distance?
Woman A: From 2010 to 2016 (ending this year). I was in Tucson, Arizona, and he was in the Bay Area. We were each other's first loves, and I was at a party school with a bunch of bros, so he was the much better option.
Man A: Two years, between 2012 and 2014. I was in the U.S.A. He was in southern Africa. I fell madly in love with him after knowing him for only three days. We committed monogamy to each other after one week. It all made so much sense to us. We allowed ourselves to surrender to the romance of it and just let it continue.
Woman B: My now-fiancé and I did long distance for six years—four in college and two immediately following (though the latter two were much closer). I was located in Massachusetts, while he was located in Vermont. During the last two years of long-distance, he was located in Connecticut while I was located in New York. We chose colleges far away from each other, and that was that!
Man B: Four years and counting. I'm in New York, she's in San Francisco. We just realized that we work really well together and felt it would be foolish to try to do better than each other. Cheesy but so true.
What kind of sexual communication do/did you have?
Woman A: We had Skype sex almost every day, and if we ever sexted, it almost immediately turned into us logging on to Skype. Skype sex was our saving grace. Being a very sexual person, I would have never been able to stay faithful without it. Six years of having Skype sex makes me pretty experienced, I guess. It was intimidating at first, but the first time happened pretty naturally—were just Skypeing regularly and one thing led to another. Definitely the best thing that ever happened to us. I rarely sent nude photos, but when I did, he loved it! I would always make sure to preface that text with a quick "Are you alone?" Otherwise he could have been opening a sext while in office hours with a professor.
Man A: We had a shared Dropbox folder where we would leave videos of us masturbating for each other. We'd also sext each other throughout the day via WhatsApp. And at night—as long as the internet was good enough—we'd Skype each other and have mutual webcam sex. Some nights, we'd also phone sex, describing things over the phone, knowing we were both masturbating on the other end of the line. There was a lot of intense staring into each other's eyes while masturbating and/or fingering ourselves. It was hot.
Woman B: We used to have Skype sex when we were younger (and when I was less anxious and self-conscious), but it’s been years since the last time we did...Over time, I got less and less comfortable, and we stopped. The first time we did it, I think we were both kind of blown away. Like, "Oh my god, this is so fun!" And I was younger and more focused on pleasing him than I probably should have been (in a "I want my boyfriend to love me" teenage way). The relationship got more stable, and I got more confident and started to feel like I was putting on a sexual performance that I stopped being comfortable with. At some point, I think I’d like to revisit Skype sex if we’re ever apart (Maybe when he’s deployed? He's in the military), but I think I needed the few years off to work on my self-confidence before I was ready again. Similar to Skype sex, we used to sext (in high school), but then we had incidents where our parents read the messages and that led to a lot of shame, and I had a hard time finding the messages sexy because we’re both pretty goofy by nature. It felt silly. We’ve been doing it a little more these days even though we’re living together, and I definitely appreciate the occasional dick-pic Snapchat. I think the key is not to overthink it and start slow.
Man B: I never ever want to force my girlfriend to do anything that would make her uncomfortable, so it's been a lot of gentle nudging and encouraging. I just recently got her some sex toys for her birthday this summer so she's been coming out of her shell in a big way. Sexting doesn't work much for either of us, and sending nudes is definitely a one-sided venture (she doesn't care much for dick pics), so that's a no-go as well. Our current favorite is to watch porn together on a site like Rabb.it, which allows you to video chat with a shared browser.
Any tips for better video sex or sexting?
Woman A: Turn the brightness down on your computer if you're doing it in the dark. Bright computer fluorescent lighting is not a turn-on.
Man A: I was really nervous the first time I had Skype sex. I would have the jitters a lot. I'd recommend making sure you're in a warm room if you have a similar first reaction to shiver. I also highly recommend starting with a laptop instead of a phone. Changing angles is easier with a laptop screen. Once you get comfortable, it's easy to move to a phone, but without practice, there will be a lot of phones plopping over and falling. If you're using a phone, make sure it's stable for the cum shot. There's nothing worse then orgasming intensely with your eyes closed only to open them up and realize your phone fell over and your partner missed the whole thing. I also love sexting. It's actually one of my favorite things to do. I suggest being as real to yourself as possible. It's easy to fall into the Fabio-novel stereotype cliches, or repeat things you've heard in porn. I like using very real language, language I'd use during sex, imagining what I'd be doing and just slowing explaining every new movement, every new body part I'd touch...As for sending nudes, I only do that with people I really trust. I think trust is the main thing there.
Woman B: I think the key is not to overthink it and start slow.
Man B: My girlfriend is still getting comfortable with masturbating on camera with porn.
What's your favorite funny memory about sexting or having video sex with your partner?
Woman A: I was once having Skype sex in the bathtub and water somehow got on it. It fried my entire computer right in the middle of it...My parents had to spend another $1,200 for a new laptop.
Man A: I was sexting my partner while he was leading a meeting one time. I got him so turned on he had to excuse himself from the meeting he was leading to go jerk off in the bathroom before returning.
Woman B: Probably the time I accidentally sexted his home phone (where his parents live) at, like, 3 in the morning. It was obviously an accident—he asked me to send him a random message to see if his phone was working—and I chose something risqué and then hit the wrong number to send it to. His parents gave me a talking-to, and I am mortified to this day.
Man B: One time, neither of us were much in the mood for watching porn together, so we just sat there critiquing and commenting on the videos instead of getting into them (and masturbating). Still a great time!
What about dealing with sexual frustration? If you aren't/weren't monogamous, what are/were the terms?
Woman A: We definitely did not have an open relationship. We were on-again, off-again, however, so whenever we got back together, it was pretty much don't ask, don't tell. We were fairly good at maintaining our Skype sex relationship, so I wasn't masturbating any more often than I would have been normally. When we were apart, I masturbated five or six times a week via video with him.
Man B: We were monogamous. I masturbated daily, and pretty much every day or every other day, I'd have a video of him masturbating waiting for me in our Dropbox, so I essentially had constant custom, personalized porn. It worked out. I missed cuddling him but the sexual satisfaction was plenty. I masturbated probably two to three times per week with him live.
Woman B: We (briefly) had an agreement about dancing with other people freshman year of college, but that idea caused nothing but trouble, so we nixed it. I’m weird in that the longer I go without sex, the less I notice. I felt very differently as a teenager (and part of college), and I acted inappropriately at the time and had to confess some really messy transgressions afterward. But these days, our relationship is in a completely different universe, not to mention the fact that we’re living together. I actually think I masturbate more (once or two times a week) now that we have sex more often.
Man B: We do not have an open relationship. "Frustration" is not quite the right term for me. I'm not frustrated that we can't have sex all the time, I have trained myself instead to be eager for the next time we're together. I think that's one of the keys to surviving long distance—having proper expectations for the parameters of your relationship. That said, there is much masturbation to be done in the interim. I masturbate at least daily solo, and we're often pretty busy with work, so masturbating together may be once a week or less.
What's the hardest thing about long-distance?
Woman A: The hardest thing is being "half" alone when you're apart. You can't find comfort in someone else, and you don't usually want to, but they aren't there to give it to you either.
Man A: The visa. I never knew if he'd be able to stay here legally unless we got married before we were ready to.
Woman B: Probably not sharing any experiences in our day-to-day lives. We had totally separate friends, hobbies, and schedules. We didn’t have anything that we bonded over or could do on a regular basis. There were no tender kisses while cooking dinner or holding hands while running errands or inside jokes about an experience we had together. The hardest thing sexually was that I hated the pressure of cramming sex into a window of two or three days. What if I wasn’t in the mood? Or we happened to have a fight? Or we happened to have a lot of plans with family or friends? It totally turned me off and agitated my anxiety; the pressure basically made my body shut down.
Man B: The hardest thing is how easy it can be to not talk for a while. If one of the two of us gets busy with work and can't talk for days at a time, that can be incredibly hard for the other. It's definitely a team effort to keep it running smoothly and anything that gets in the way of that makes things tough.
What's your best tip for dealing with maintaining a long-distance sexual connection?
Woman A: Make the time to talk and don't be afraid to be vocal during Skype sex! You get to create any fantasy that you can imagine, so take advantage of that!
Man A: What's important is communication, an open mind, a spirit of experimentation, and a huge sense of humor.
Woman B: Get out of your comfort zone and have fun! I was so afraid of being uncomfortable that I stopped doing a lot of the things that kept us romantically connected when we were apart, and it affected our relationship.
Man B: Up-front, honest communication is so important! While we're not wild sex monkeys over Skype or anything like that, I don't think we'd even be at the level we're at without having talked about it. If you don't know about the other's needs, you won't be able to help them (even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone a bit).
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.