COVID-19 Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have the Best (Virtual) Sex of Your Life

Our guide to sexting, phone sex, and FaceTime sex—because you don't have to be in a sexual slump just because you can't hump.

[PHOTO: Person lying in bed in the dark looking at cellphone]
If you are new to the wonders of virtual sex, think about it the way you would IRL sex—consent and boundaries are still critical. Shutterstock

The last eight months have been an absolute hellscape.

If you’re like me, when things turn to shit, you turn to pleasure to alleviate—or, at the very least, distract from—whatever life happens to be throwing at you. And if you’re like me, one of the things you turn to is: sex.

Whatever your style—maybe it’s with a partner, maybe it’s having as many orgasms with your vibrator as humanly possible—sex, pleasure, and intimacy can be a wonderful distraction when everything else feels like it is on fire.

But as it turns out, it is not always easy, ideal, or responsible to have loads of sex in the middle of a global pandemic. Very rude of the universe, if you ask me. But alas, it’s the situation we find ourselves in. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, one need not suffer through isolation without sex. Sexting, phone sex, and FaceTime sex all make for delightful substitutes for the IRL version.

Now, Caroline, you might ask—how many ways can you really keep yourself and your partner(s) entertained without being in the same place to swap germs and other bodily fluids? Fear not: As a voraciously horny person and a longtime, pre-quarantine sexting, phone sex, and FaceTime sex enthusiast, I know firsthand (pun intended) that where there is a will, there is a way. And I’m here to guide you through some handy (pun, again, intended) ways to get off without getting under or on top of another human being.

First, you can try sexting

Even when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic, sexting can be a ~titillating~ form of intimacy—a safe, easy, and low-stakes way to experiment with a new kink or test the waters of sexual compatibility with a new partner.

A common frustration I share with friends about sexting is the difficulty of knowing how to initiate. Think of it as taking flirting to the next level. Referencing sex or intimacy in a fun or playful way can indicate to a partner where your head is at. Ask a partner what they’d want to do if you were together, or if they’d like a sexy pic. For a lot of people, IRL sex feels more normative than virtual sex, so be radically kind with yourself and be honest with your partner that you’re nervous. Think about it like your first time trying something new during IRL sex; go at whatever pace you want and check in with yourself and your partner as go.

Sexting can be about what you’re doing in the moment—like describing how you’re touching yourself. It can also be about what you want to do with the other person, and it can be about what you like during sex. Try not to overthink it! Chances are you are sexting with someone who thinks you are the sexual bee’s knees, and they are losing their mind over the opportunity to enjoy a little dirty talk with you. Share your kinks and your fantasies; talk about your erogenous zones—the possibilities are endless.

We can’t really talk about sexting without discussing nude photos. Sending and receiving sexy pics can be a pretty common part of sexting, but if it’s not your thing, that is completely valid. You can be an amazing sexter using your words alone, and no one—no one—should ever make you feel like you have to send nudes.

But if you want to send nudes, here’s some stuff to think about. (An important reminder before continuing: You should be of legal age to take and send nudes. Nudes—even between consenting young people—are considered child pornography and are illegal. So if you’re under 18, stick to using your words for now!)

Sharing nudes is just another act of intimacy, like sex itself. Whether you show your naked body to someone IRL or over the phone is your business. You might be nervous about your nudes ending up in the wrong hands, and that is totally valid. But what someone chooses to do with your nudes is never your fault, and if someone does violate your trust, remind yourself you did nothing wrong. Revenge porn is an act of sexual violence, and placing any responsibilty on the person who sent the pic is victim blaming, plain and simple.

So you’ve taken some time to think about all of that, and you’ve maybe even spent some time unlearning some toxic slut-shaming involved in the nudes discourse. Now you’re ready to disrobe and start taking pics.

Start by asking yourself what you’re comfortable with and how you feel hottest. If you feel best in lingerie or pajamas or a towel, do you. If you feel comfortable totally nude, go for it. Whatever you send is sure to get your partner’s blood flowing. They should make you feel appreciated and affirmed, and if you get anything less, kick them to the curb.

For vagina havers, there’s a lot of stigma and taboo around vulvas. For penis havers, it’s the fraught “dick pic.” Again—this is about what you are down for and what your partner is comfortable receiving. If you want to make the experience more interactive, you can send your partner short videos or erotic voice memos of you moaning or talking dirty.

Next, you can try phone sex

Ring ring!

Who’s that on the phone?

Is it dirty talk?

Heavy breathing?

Let’s talk about phone sex. The ears are an erogenous zone—and not just for touching. The sound of your partner’s voice can be a huge turn on. Dirty talk, moans, and heavy breathing can all be erotic to hear.

As with sexting, initiating can feel a little tricky, so try texting about it first. Bring up the possibility of phone sex during sexting and ask your partner if they’d be interested in hearing you say these things rather than texting about them.

You can also introduce phone sex during a phone call. It might sound corny, but asking your partner what they would be doing if you were together can be an easy way to indicate where you want the conversation to go. You can also just be straightforward and ask your partner if they are in the mood to fool around over the phone. If you want to test the *auditory waters* share voice memos with your partner of heavy breathing, moaning, or dirty talk.

It’s natural to feel a little nervous the first time you have phone sex, and that’s something you can share with your partner, as it could help break the ice and put you at ease. Think about the things you sext about and try talking through those. Talk about how you’re touching yourself, ask them how they’re touching themself; describe what you would want to be doing if you were together, or a fantasy you have about what you want to do the next time you’re in the same room.

Like sexting, phone sex can be a safe and low-stakes way to experiment. Try out new role plays or kinks, and be sure to communicate with your partner that just because you are trying something out virtually does not mean you’ll necessarily be ready for it IRL, and that’s OK!

Sex toys can make phone sex more fun for you, and it’s something else you and your partner can share—talk to them about what toy you’re using, how you’re using it, and what you’re imagining. You can also look into remote control toys that your partner can operate from a distance (sometimes even through an app on their phone!) while you enjoy the, uh, ride.

Like I said before, auditory stimulation is about more than words. There are lots of parts of sex and masturbation that, well … make noise: moaning, heavy breathing, spitting, thrusting, shouting expletives, catching your breath—and so many other hot things your partner might like to hear. If you’re using a vibrator or some other kind of toy that makes noise, bring the phone up to it so your partner can hear. If you’re wet or using lube, let your partner hear what that sounds like.

Most importantly: Try not to overthink it. It’s not about being perfect—you don’t have to be some Shakespearean poet to make phone sex hot. Be yourself, and most importantly enjoy yourself. Don’t stress over awkward pauses or fumbling your words; focus on your pleasure and communicate that.

Then there’s FaceTime sex

In many ways, FaceTime sex is the final frontier of the virtual sex world. It combines the visual arousal of nudes with the auditory stimulation of phone sex, and the added real-time video element makes it *chef’s kiss* an erotic dream.

To initiate, you can bring up FaceTime sex during sexting or phone sex. Ask your partner if they would want to watch the other masturbate rather than text or talk on the phone about it. If you’re already on FaceTime and want to move things in a sexy direction, you can ask your partner questions that might indicate where you want things to go. Maybe you want to show them some new lingerie? Or a new sex toy? Do you want to show them how you like to touch yourself or be touched? Or maybe you just want to talk to them about a new fantasy you have, or something you’ve been thinking about when you masturbate.

If you think you’re gearing up for a steamy FaceTime session, take some time to set up your space. The same way you might prep your space for IRL sex, you can do this for FaceTime sex. Consider where you might be most comfortable. Do you want to use your computer or your phone? Wear something that will make you feel sexy or confident. If you like using sex toys, you might want them nearby (and charged!).

FaceTime sex doesn’t have to mean just *sex.* You can strip or dance for your partner. Maybe there are things you and your partner like to watch each other do, like showering, or maybe you want to read to them in the nude. There’s room to be playful.

And if you do want to have FaceTime sex, there’s no one right way to do it. You and your partner can masturbate for each other, or one partner can masturbate while the other gives directions or watches. You can even watch porn together or read erotica. Think about what turns you on and about your boundaries. Having a partner watch you masturbate can be really vulnerable, and it’s OK to ease into it. Do you want to focus the camera on your face or your chest? Do you want your partner to watch your penis or vagina while you touch yourself? Communicate these boundaries and preferences to your partner. For people with vulvas especially, there is a lot of stigma and shame around the way your vulva might look, but remember that this is all a bunch of misogynistic patriarchal bull. If you want to share it with your partner over FaceTime, go for it. It’s your body.

Try not to obsess about the finish line. Orgasms are great; we love them. But sometimes it’s tricky to get there, and having someone watch you masturbate over FaceTime might make it hard for you to get in the headspace to cum. This is entirely ok and normal. Try to focus on the journey and not the destination—maybe FaceTime sex is foreplay for IRL sex or masturbation later. Not being able to cum is never a reflection on your sexual ability or how enjoyable the sex you have is.

Sometimes a FaceTime (or sexting or phone sex) quickie can be hot. But try not to let the ease of hanging up deter you from basking in the virtual post-coital glow; try winding down with your partner afterward over Facetime the way you might IRL.

Some final (horny) thoughts

If you are new to the wonders of virtual sex, think about it the way you would IRL sex—consent and boundaries are still critical. As with anything sexual, there’s bound to be some toxic and harmful stuff you’ve absorbed from society that you might have to unlearn. Investing in your pleasure is a radical act of self-care—use your experiences with virtual sex to experiment, to develop or deepen your understanding of what turns you on, and to show your body some love.

Doing so responsibly and from a safe distance is basically a public service. So mask up, and send that sext to save a life.