Having sex using your phone, computer, or other technology with someone you may or may not know is a lot less taboo than it used to be. From sending a nude Snapchat photo to having phone sex to masturbating with your partner on video chat, here's a crash course on what virtual sex is and how to have it safely.
Virtual sex is anything sexual in nature happening in a digital space, according to psychotherapist Ashley D. Sweet, M.A., LPC, LMHC. It includes any type of sexual activity on or with the internet. Video chat, phone sex, sexting, long-distance sexual play enabled by toys and sextech, and even some forms of interactive pornography all fall under the umbrella of virtual sex.
\"Most people have engaged in some sort of virtual sex without realizing it,\" board-certified sexologist Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW, tells mbg. Some people assume virtual sex only refers to having sex on Zoom or interacting with cam girls, she notes, but \"the first paid phone sex line was established about 40 years ago. I think it's helpful to put that into context as a way to normalize fostering sexual connection and pleasure when in-person [sex] isn't available.\"
Because you and your partner(s) don't actually make physical contact during virtual sex, some might not consider it \"real\" sex, but it is. Sweet emphasizes that sex is much broader than the typical view of penis-in-vagina penetration. \"If it gets you off,\" she says, \"put it in the bucket of sex.\" Cline also points out that \"studies by the Kinsey Institute have shown that virtual sex creates emotional connections and sexual gratification in some of the same ways as in-person physical sexual acts/touch.\"
While many people might favor the sensory component of physical touch during sex, there are benefits of virtual sex. Besides eliminating the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, virtual sex is convenient, accessible for people of all abilities, and a great option to explore new sexual acts you may not feel comfortable doing in person. It also allows long-distance couples to create and maintain their intimacy from anywhere in the world. Likewise, depending on how you do it, virtual sex can allow you to connect with people outside of your daily life and routine.
To engage in virtual sex, it's important you know you're risking your privacy. Technology's advancements make it easy for others to save your sensitive content without you knowing, says Sweet. People can save your nude photos, screenshot or record you during video sex, or save messages from chat threads. Once in someone else's hands, you have little to no control of where your private content ends up.
Your partner can even violate your trust by secretly sharing the virtual sex session with another person in the room without your consent, says AASECT-certified sex therapist Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST. It's not sexy to think about, but \"What you do in the digital space can be frozen in time forever,\" warns Sweet.
There's almost no way to guarantee your privacy during virtual sex. If we've learned anything from leaked celebrity sex tapes and the rise of nonconsensual pornography and revenge porn, it's that internet privacy doesn't exist. Just because you want to have virtual sex doesn't mean you deserve to have your privacy infringed upon, but that's the unfortunate reality of what's at stake.
If virtual sex turns into the buying or selling of sexual services that take place in person, it may violate laws against sex work that exist in many states. Cline adds that some sex workers promote their services on social media, forums, and other online platforms, which might conflict with that site's terms of service and get you banned.
To avoid any mishaps during virtual sex that can lead to legal ramifications, stay up-to-date with relevant laws around sexuality in your state, and only engage with people you're certain are 18 or older.
Like with any other form of sex, virtual sex requires consent from all involved parties. You must get enthusiastic consent from your partners for all parts of the sexual experience, including what sexual acts you'll engage in, who is allowed to view or participate in the experience, and whether it's OK to save content for later viewing.
Just because virtual sex is digital, the rules don't change: You never have to do anything you don't want to. \"If we want to have really good virtual sex, we shouldn't be performing based on the expectations of what we think the other person wants,\" says Sweet. \"We should be doing what turns us on and gets us off.\"
If you'll be on camera, use lighting to your advantage to set the mood and conceal your identity if you need to. Sweet recommends trying out LED light strips that are accompanied by remote controls so you can set them to pulse, go brighter, or even change colors.
Not only does a change of lighting enhance the virtual sex experience, but changing your light bulb to a popular color like red, for instance, gives you the upper advantage if you want to send nude photos and videos without your face and other identifying features being too visible. Plus, you'll feel really sexy.
Even though you're not together physically, your physical senses can still be part of the virtual sex experience. Sensory experiences are an important part of sex, so find ways to replicate in your own environment what turns you on the most in person.
When trying something new, ongoing consent is important to maintain everyone's satisfaction and comfort. To continually check in on consent during virtual sex in a way that still feels playful and fun, Sweet recommends the green, yellow, red, game.
Whether for role-playing or to hide your identity, at your next virtual sex session involving video, try wearing a mask to shed your inhibitions, spice up the scene, or explore new fantasy role-play without worrying about how you look.
Sex toys are just as fun to use during virtual sex as they are in person, so don't hesitate to include them in your session, especially if your partner enjoys watching you masturbate. Plus, that means you and your partner masturbate together, says Geter.
Why limit the fun to one person? If you're ready to expand your sexual exploration, Geter says one option is to have \"more than one person join on either side and share the role of cameraperson [as they] engage in play.\" This could be highly pleasurable for those in open or polyamorous relationships, or anyone interested in group sex.
Countless couples have pursued sexual relationships from a distance before now, but during the coronavirus pandemic, even more people are giving it a go. Turning to virtual platforms can help keep a sexual spark alive, but these encounters are sometimes awkward or feel risky. To help you out, I interviewed experts and pulled from my own experiences for virtual sex tips that can help everyone involved have an excellent time.
Before embarking on your virtual sex adventure, you should feel comfortable having these kinds of interactions with the person (or people) in question. Mary Anne Franks, J.D., D.Phil, is a lawyer and activist with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, an organization that fights online abuse and revenge porn. She recommends asking yourself a few key questions before giving virtual intimacy a try:
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Online sex with girls through a camera is one of the most exciting options for having fun if it's boring, especially if you have the Internet, a webcam and a bunch of hormones. Some people start looking for various video in order to watch online sex. It seems like a thankless task, especially when you watch it alone. It is much more interesting to spend time with someone on the Internet and try virtual sex online with a partner.
You can watch online sex on the Internet - not a very interesting activity compared to the alternative of virtual sex. It is much more interesting to take part in it. With this video chat you can do it. After all, there is nothing better than being feeling the whole thrill of such entertainment. Here, although it is not possible to touch the partner