video call

Remote sex offers distant lovers intimate connection. But does it work for you?

Circumstances force many lovers to spend extended time apart—school, family obligations, business travel, military deployment, whatever. For those so inclined, phone sex—including FaceTime and Zoom—offers distant partners intimate connections, erotic play, and more enjoyable solo orgasms. Here’s how to make the most of phone sex, while avoiding its potential hazards.

Sexting: Real Risk of Non-Consensual Sharing

Technology offers two possibilities for erotically charged communication: sharing sexy photos (sexting), and erotic conversations, with or without video.

Sexting is most popular among adolescents and young adults. It has raised red flags with parents, schools, and the legal system—and spawned 250 research studies. Typically, young people take sex-charged selfies, and send them to current or hoped-for love interests, naively assuming they’ll remain private. But callous recipients (usually but not always boys) may share them widely, leaving senders (usually but not always girls) feeling regret, shame, and humiliation. After non-consensually sharing of sexts, some young senders have been harassed, cyber-bullied, and even driven to suicide attempts.

Sexting is fairly popular among adolescents and young adults. Two teams of researchers evaluated 89 studies—39 involving 110,380 participants age 12 to 17 (average 15), and 50 involving 18,122 sexters age 18 to 29 (average 23). Among the young adults, 40 percent admitted having sent or received sexts, among the adolescents, a much lower 14 percent. The young adults also admitted involvement in more nonconsensual sharing. Fifteen percent said they’d either sent sexts without subjects’ permission or knew their sexts had been forwarded without theirs. The figure for the teens was 10 percent, lower but still concerning to many parents and school administrators. (I found no studies of sexting after age 30.)

Send sexts if you want, but understand that your images may be shared—possibly widely—without your permission.

To send sexts without regrets:

  • Wait a while. The newer the relationship, the greater the risk of non-consensual sharing. Compared with couples who have been together a year or more, those who measure their relationships in days, weeks, or a few months are more likely to get burned.
  • Decide your limits. Ideally, do this before you send your first sext. Then stick to your limits. Once sexting begins, many recipients beg for more, More, MORE! Beware of getting caught up in the moment. Also beware of sending sexts while intoxicated.
  • Sexy doesn’t have to be porny. If someone wants to see you in your underwear, consider a selfie in a bathing suit, which can be equally revealing but more socially acceptable. If the request is for topless, consider sending an image of your naked back. Or frontal toplessness that shows your face and some upper chest but no nipples. If recipiens want full frontal nudity, consider downloading images from the Internet and attaching a note saying: I look kinda like this.

Happy Phone Sex: The Main Prerequisite

Phone, FaceTime, or Zoom sex usually means conversing and/or viewing one’s partner while self-pleasuring by hand or sex toy. Do you feel comfortable doing that?

Solo sex usually takes place in private, but Indiana University researchers discovered that self-sexing in the presence of lovers is fairly common. The IU investigators asked a representative sample of 5,865 men and women, age 14 to 94 (2,929 women, 2,936 men) if during the past year they’d ever engaged in self-pleasuring with a partner present. Those replying yes:

From age 20 to 50, one-third to almost half of Americans have engaged in solo sex in front of partners or by phone. The figure for those age 16 to 19 was around one-quarter, and for those 50 or older, 15 to 20 percent. Those who masturbate for partners may not do it regularly, but self-sexing for partners is certainly not rare.

The Main Risk of Phone Sex

Once technology—phone, FaceTime, or Zoom— intrudes on sex, conversations, images, and videos can be made, shared, and edited, potentially making people appear wilder than they actually are.

Federal and state laws govern the recording of phone calls, usually including phone photos and videos. Specifics vary, but in general, calls may be recorded if both parties consent—ideally at the beginning of each recording. However, some states require only one party’s consent.

However, the legalities are largely irrelevant. if you’re recorded, or send photographs or videos that get shared without your consent, you suffer the consequences long before perpetrators can be brought to justice—which in all likelihood will never happen.

One way to avoid phone-sex regret is to disguise your voice. That way, if your sexy conversations get shared, you have plausible deniability: That’s not me. It doesn’t sound anything like me. Many apps offer voice disguising. If you choose this route, be careful not to identify yourself in other ways.

One’s body may also be disguised. The best way is to avoid showing your face along with any other body parts. And don’t show tattoos or other identifiers.

Meanwhile, disguise strategies may interfere with the erotic excitement of phone or Zoom sex. Consider your risks and make your decisions.

Keys to Happy Phone Sex

  • Practice self-sexing together beforehand. If a separation looms but you’ve never self-pleasured for each other, consider a few in-person sessions before one of you departs. That should increase mutual comfort with phone sex.
  • Charge your phone. You don’t want to run out of juice in the middle of the juiciness.
  • Choose your words. Sex can be discussed using clinical terms or a huge vocabulary of slang. Discuss which you and your partner find most arousing.
  • Discuss the play. You might talk dirty to each other. Or share fantasies. Or read erotica together. Or watch the same sexually explicit videos simultaneously. Or photograph or video each other. Talking dirty and sharing fantasies can be fun, but may cause discomfort. Reading stories aloud or watching videos may feel more appealing. For stories, search “erotic stories” or visit Literotica, LushStories, Bellesa, or AnEroticStory. For videos, porn abounds. If you’d rather not view standard porn, check out Make Love Not Porn, Femme Productions, BrightDesire, ErikaLust, Good Vibrations After Dark, or SexSmartFilms.
  • Toys? Negotiate if and how you’d like to use them during phone or Zoom sex.
  • How long? Also discuss how long you’d like phone sex to last, that is, when you’d like to work up to mutual orgasms. Compared with partner lovemaking, solo sex usually offers more control over the timing of orgasm. You might decide to play for a few minutes or hours. Extended solo sex may cause genital chafing. Use lubricant. If one of you climaxes faster than anticipated, laugh it off, then focus on helping the other person to a happy ending.
  • Savor afterglow. Unless you mutually decide in advance to hang up.

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