Intimacy is an essential component of a healthy relationship, and that includes the sexual side of things, too. Although it's much easier to get hot and heavy when there's physical proximity, there are ways to make it work in long-distance relationships (LDRs).
Whether you met your partner online or you had to move due to life circumstances, here are some tips to help keep the spark alive despite the distance.
Schedule visits as often as possible
Let's get an obvious point out of the way first: Even if you're in an LDR, seeing each other in person as often as your finances and schedules allow will go a long way.
Even if you can't see each other frequently, booking flights and putting a date in the calendar is an enormous psychological release and gives you something to look forward to, which means sexual tensions become more manageable.
Communication, communication, communication!
Being able to talk to each other is a key requirement for all relationships, but it's extra important in LDRs because you can't rely as easily on nonverbal cues. When it comes to your sex life, take time to tell your partner about any fantasies or desires you have and how often you'd like to engage in sexual activity. If you're unsure what to say or even what you want, take some time to consider what you're craving first.
Sexual frustration is common and totally normal in LDRs—physical touch goes a long way in sustaining sexual intimacy—so you should cut yourself, and your partner, some slack if it's arising in your relationship. But be aware of whether it's bleeding into other aspects of your relationship: Distance can accentuate disengagement and miscommunication, and it's important to consider how sexual frustration might be contributing to petty arguments.
If you find that your sexual frustration is spilling over into regular bickering, think of a way to raise the issue with your partner in a gentle, nonconfrontational way. You may find that they're feeling similarly and have some ideas on how to ease these feelings.
Ryan McPartlin, actor and husband, opens up about how he prioritizes his relationship with his wife, even when he is traveling. Watch the full interview here.
Understand and define your boundaries
When you can't see each other in person, it's important to get sexually creative—but that doesn't mean doing things you don't feel comfortable with. Boundaries are always important, and this is equally true if your sex life is taking place mostly over phone calls or video calls. You might feel okay being naked on camera but never want it to be recorded, for example, so it's important to clarify those hard limits.
Be as detailed and specific as possible with your boundaries—don't hold anything back! This leaves less room for any gray areas or confusion moving forward. Boundaries can be flexible and it's important to remain open to compromise, but ultimately feeling comfortable and trusting each other is more important than immediate sexual gratification. Oh, and it should go without saying, but when your partner sets a boundary, don't plead, cajole or nag them into changing it just because you're missing seeing their body.
Use technology to your advantage
Sex that's mediated by screens isn't necessarily optimal, but it can be surprisingly fun. As well as phone calls, you've got FaceTime, Zoom and other video messaging services at your disposal, and seeing your partner's reaction as you talk dirty or masturbate in front of the camera can be a pretty convincing simulacrum of physical intimacy—or at least enough to tide you over until you're next together.
If you feel like getting playful, with an iPhone, you can send intimate pictures with invisible ink, and with messaging apps like Telegram, you can send vanishing messages. This can add a level of intrigue and excitement as the content of what was sent is hidden until you open it.
If you really want to add some fervor into your sex routine, high-tech vibrators can help partners connect from anywhere in the world. For most, all you need is your smartphone (with a Bluetooth connection) and wi-fi. Most devices have multiple unique settings and speeds for your partner to choose from, which allows room to experiment with stimulation (and climaxing) together. Although your partner may be far away, it helps bring physical intimacy into your sex life, since your partner is contributing to your pleasure in real-time.
For a throwback feeling, try writing down your fantasies, desires and romantic sentiments on paper and sharing them with your partner. With digital technology as our primary form of communication, we have lost some of the beauty of old-fashioned communication, and writing letters to your partner can be a great way to rebuild and reaffirm intimacy.
There's no doubt that LDRs can be challenging, and the lack of physical touch is one of the key struggles for couples in this position. But with planning, communication, strong boundaries and some steamy Zoom sessions, your relationship should be able to go the distance.