In this time of social distancing, some folks are having less fun between the sheets and more fun behind their screens. But whether this is your first foray into virtual sex or you’re just looking to step up your game, you may be in need of a few pointers.
“People tend to treat video chatting like it’s any random video call, but it’s not,” said Gigi Engle, resident sexologist at Womanizer and author of “All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide To Sex, Love, and Life.”
“Like any first date, preparation is important! People forget little things that can make all the difference,” Engle said.
We asked sex experts to reveal some of the common mistakes people make when it comes to virtual sex and what they can do instead to make it a safer, more satisfying experience for all involved.
Mistake No. 1: You rush into it without establishing boundaries first.
Before you get down to business, it’s essential to get consent from each other, communicate your boundaries and discuss expectations — just as you would (or should!) with sex IRL. Talk about the types of sexual activities you’re OK with, which ones you might be open to exploring and the ones you want to avoid, said Jesse Kahn, sex therapist and director at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City. Then make sure you’re on the same page. Keep these conversations ongoing, as your preferences may change.
“This could include how much of your body you’re interested in showing, what is exciting about virtual sex for you, any hesitation, what turns you on about virtual sex and what activities you’re into, and if it’s OK to take screenshots or record,” Kahn said. “Establishing consent is a part of all sex, whether virtual or in-person.”
Mistake No. 2: You don’t take cyber safety into account.
When having virtual sex, you may not need to worry about condoms, dental dams or birth control pills, but you do need to take other safety precautions.
“Hackers could leak your sensitive photos, videos, and texts or watch what’s happening on your webcam,” Lauren Rowello, writer and former cam girl, wrote for Self. “Even someone you consent to have virtual sex with could violate your trust by showing what you share with them to others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have virtual sex if you feel comfortable with it, but it’s a good idea to take some steps to protect your digital privacy.”
A few safety tips via Cosmopolitan: Keep devices up to date (note that your smartphone may be more secure than your laptop), opt for an end-to-end encrypted platform like Signal, use an anonymous email that’s not tied to your name for any app signups, choose strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication, and disguise any identifying characteristics, like your face, tattoos or surroundings.
When trying to decide if you’re ready to have virtual sex with someone, assess your relationship history (if you have one) and level of trust.
“If you have a partner who has made you uncomfortable in the past, this is not someone who will respect your boundaries now,” lawyer and activist Mary Anne Franks of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative told Self.
Mistake No. 3: You don’t set the mood first.
Treat your virtual sex session like you would an in-person encounter, said sexuality coach Ashley Cobb of the blog Sex With Ashley. That means taking a few minutes to create the right ambiance before you get busy. Change out of that stained hoodie and into something that makes you feel hot, tidy up your bedroom and put on a sexy Spotify playlist to create a sensual vibe.
“Wear something sexy, light candles or play some romantic background music,” Cobb said. “By setting the mood, it will help you get more into it. Sex is mental first! Once you set the scene and get your head in the game, your body will follow.”
Mistake No. 4: You rely on unflattering light.
“Lighting can make a huge difference, especially, since virtual sex is largely visual,” said sexuality educator Goody Howard. “Lighting reduces shadows that can cloud the best parts of online sex play.”
Mistake No. 5: You hold your phone instead of using a tripod.
“With anything virtual, you need the proper equipment, and virtual sex is no different,” Cobb said. “Having a tripod is a must because you want to be hands-free and you need your phone or tablet to be in a stationary position.”
If you don’t want to spend money on equipment, then prop your phone up using a stack of books or other household objects.
“Make sure you’ve found the right angle [that] is most comfortable and flattering for you,” Engle said. “It’s important that you look good for yourself. That will help you feel relaxed and sexy.”
Mistake No. 6: You have video sex with the volume all the way up — and you don’t live alone.
“If you have roommates or children in the next room, be sure you have your earbuds ready to go,” Engle said. “Video sex is hot, but it’s also something that should be shared with your partner and not your entire household.”
Mistake No. 7: You skip aftercare.
In kink circles, “aftercare” refers to the comfort, support or attention exchanged between partners after an intense sexual experience. These same principles apply to virtual sex, too, Kahn said.
“During aftercare, we give time and attention to each other to wrap up the experience and make sure everyone is feeling taken care of, safe and comfortable,” he said. “Some examples of virtual aftercare can include cleaning up your respective spaces while remaining on video, talking about the experience, having a snack or meal together, and watching a movie together virtually.”
Solo, YOLO is a series on solo sex. From masturbation to porn habits, sex toys to safe virtual sex, we’ve curated expert tips on getting it on ... with yourself.