As a Marine, David has spent much of the past five years away from his wife, Penny. They could be nine time zones apart for as long as a month or two. That’s an awful lot of Snapchatting.
They’re hardly alone in their aloneness. Long-haul truckers, oil rig workers, and even athletes and sportswriters feel the strain of separation. But just as ballistic armour and night-vision goggles have changed soldiering, technology has changed sex for long-distance couples. (Actually, night-vision goggles in the bedroom. . .)
David, 33, and Penny are a living, texting counterargument to the notion that technology only wrecks sex. Sure, smartphones distract us from our mates and dating apps can make it difficult to commit. But for every intimacy-killing app on the market, there’s a way to use tech to enhance romance. Technology may lead you to the hottest sex you’ve ever had. So whether you want to feel closer to your long-distance mate or your long-term relationship needs a jolt, plug in and turn on.
1 KEEP IN TOUCH WHEN YOU’RE FAR AWAY
Ever since Antony left Cleopatra on the shore and sailed off to battle, warriors have had long-distance relationships. The key, says David, is constant communication. He learned that lesson early after making Penny endure radio silence–she had no idea what he was doing. She set him straight, and from that point on it was frequent Facebook messages, then GChat, then Google Hangouts. “Our chat history is swimming around on a Google server somewhere,” he says. Later it was Snapchat. Sexy messages and hot photos vanish but linger in your memory. Like the snap of Penny’s new swimsuit: “She was excited to show it off to me–and yeah, it looked great on her.” The Snapchat streak counter helps: “Having a 275-day streak going can be a powerful motivator,” says David. Too millennial? Send pics and messages with Signal, which safely encrypts messages.
Next-Level Mission: Add an app-controlled toy to your next FaceTime session. You can control it remotely. Start slow, teasing with a light setting, then turn it up as she gets turned on. Or just have her stimulate herself over video chat. Best show ever.
2 LEARN EACH OTHER’S SECRETS, BLUSH-FREE
Hesitant about divulging your desires? You’re not alone. Take Jason, 33, who’s been with his girlfriend for four months but hasn’t shared some particular sexual interests. “I worry about the stigma of being into sex that isn’t 100 percent normal,” he says. Couples therapist Stan Tatkin, Psy.D., M.F.T., hears that a lot: “In the beginning of all relationships, we’re auditioning,” he says. “You’re trying to not get into trouble, at the very least.” Don’t let fear hinder your sex life.
Tech Tactic: Give Blindfold a spin. This app lets both of you check off stuff you’d like to try. It tells you if you score a match and keeps the non-matches secret–no judgment here. Do it on your own time; there’s no need to decide rapid-fire whether spanking is something you’re really into or you’re just curious. A match is a natural conversation starter.
3 FIND SOME CREATIVE WORK-AROUNDS
A penis disability due to injury or illness doesn’t have to be a death blow for your sex life. “We have erogenous zones all over our bodies,” says Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., a sex and relationships coach based in Seattle. “You can learn to tune into them, but it takes practice.” Many areas around the body are ripe for sexual stimulation, and tech can offer something different.
Action Plan: A finger vibe can turn your digits into a supercharged erotic tool. Have her wear one and slowly trace it down your chest, pausing at sensitive spots. With practice and focus, you may even reach orgasm from this kind of touch. But don’t stress: If it feels good, you’re on track, says Glickman.
4 EMPLOY STEALTH TECHNOLOGY
Some women might prefer additional matériel in their campaign for the Big O. New, stealthy sex toys don’t hide from radar, but they’re unobtrusive. Treat yourself to a couples toy for a change.
Reinforcements: Use toys in a support role. Choose the right one that requires no uncomfortable positioning. Or use it to kick off foreplay with a little vibration, and then let your fingers join in. Because fingers, of course, are the ultimate digital stimulation.
5 DON’T LET SEX SMOLDER ON THE BACK BURNER
After a few years (and maybe a few children), finding the time to get naked together may become a big challenge. “We live in a culture that deprioritises sex,” says Bay Area psychologist Liz Powell, Psy.D.
The Strategy: Use the decidedly boring Google calendar to schedule sexy time, Powell suggests. Send her an invite for, say, Thursday at 10 p.m. Set the mood early in the day with a sext, or send her an erotic story from literotica.com. In the bedroom, try listening to erotic podcasts of hot stories, taking inspiration from the characters’ actions. Or use the stories as a soundtrack–candles and wine can’t hurt, either.
6 REALISE YOU CAN ALWAYS LEARN MORE
Think you know it all? You’re probably missing out. “Most of us have pretty abysmal sex education histories,” Powell says. “There are always new ideas and new approaches.”
Advanced Training: There are websites out there that offer videos and livestreams, respectively, from sex educators tackling topics like massage and the basics of blindfolds. Instead of Netflix and chill, try sex ed and chill. Set aside a night to explore; if you see something you want to do or get your mate’s opinion on, pause the video for a discussion–or a trial run.
Names in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.
A version of this article was published in the May 2018 issue of Men’s Health Singapore.
By Lux Alptraum