When you’re in a long-distance relationship, being apart sucks for a number of reasons, not least of which is that you’re missing out on that all-important physical connection: holding hands, cuddling on the couch, kissing and, of course, having sex.
“It’s normal to crave intimacy when you are apart but sometimes maintaining intimacy and keeping things spicy is not as easy as it seems,” Jennifer Craig of the blog Survive LDR told HuffPost.
That’s why we asked people who have been in long-distance relationships (or LDRs, for short) and sex therapists to share their best advice for keeping the sexual spark alive when you’re not physically together — and a few tips for the times that you are.
1. First, make sure you’re on the same page about whether this will be a monogamous LDR and what constitutes cheating.
“In order to prevent your significant other from feeling insecurity and jealousy, there needs to be frank and open discussion about what constitutes ‘betrayal.’ Set aside a time with your partner and talk in detail about what you each perceive as emotional and sexual infidelity. You might be surprised how your definition of infidelity might be different than your [partner’s]. We all have different thresholds about what is ‘OK’ and what is ‘not OK’ in the relationship.” — Nazanin Moali, sex therapist and host of the podcast “Sexology”
2. Get comfortable talking about your feelings, needs and desires and listening to your partner’s, too.
“Be open with your partner. The key to intimacy in LDRs is open communication. Discuss the best ways to maintain intimacy with your partner. Don’t be shy to experiment with intimate activities that you both are comfortable doing. Communicate your sexual desires and be open to your partner’s desires, too.” — Craig
3. Start with sexting.
“For beginners, sex toys or video sex might be too much. I recommend sexting because it’s a great activity to maintain intimacy while you are physically apart — not too direct for beginners, less awkward, and you can build up as you go along and get more comfortable.” — Craig
4. Create a secret photo album where you can safely store your partner’s saucy selfies.
“In the beginning of our three-year long-distance relationship, we would often find ourselves sexting to keep the sexual spark alive in between trips to see each other. This would mostly be just writing, however, there were a few cheeky pictures exchanged from time to time, which we each kept on a secret photo album app on our phones.” ― Casee Brimblecombe
5. And *always* make sure you’re sending those sexy pics to the right recipient.
“Just make sure you double-check you’re in the right phone conversation when you’re sending saucy messages or pictures! I’ve made the mistake once. You best believe I tripled-checked every message after that.” ― Brimblecombe
6. Schedule regular times to connect via phone or Skype.
“It’s important to schedule those times so you and your partner know that this is the designated time to connect. Also, it’s important to continue living your own life when your significant other is away. Continue to interact with friends, remain social and carry on as you normally would. If you start to give up your life in order to preserve your ongoing relationship, it could lead to resentment and frustration.” — Moali
7. Embrace technology, like remote-controlled sex toys.
“The good news is that modern digital technology has made it easier than ever for lovers — even ones separated by an ocean, several time zones and different cultures, to stay in touch. For instance, there are new sex toys that will allow you to have an interactive sex life apart, giving you the opportunity to sync your device with your lover and providing you with an interactive experience. Additionally, you may also indulge in your most eroticized fantasies by adding an element of virtual reality to these toys.” — Moali
8. But don’t forget about old-school options like snail mail.
“I still prefer the old-fashioned handwritten letter. With any method, people can still role-play. Create an alter ego, engage in cosplay, be willing to use your imagination and try something new.” ― Douglas Brooks, sex therapist
9. Don’t just rely on your partner: Make sure you’re getting yourself off, too.
“The reality of the long-distance relationship is that, in most cases, your partner will not be able to fulfill all your sexual needs. Therefore, it is important for you to take ownership of your sexual needs. It’s important for you to learn ways to enjoy solo sex; it may help you keep your sexual desires alive and present.” — Moali
10. When you are together, use all that anticipation you’ve accumulated to your advantage.
“When you don’t see each other for months at a time, things tend to get pretty spicy on their own. When you let the anticipation build for a while, it turns into a very powerful aphrodisiac and you don’t really have to think about how to keep it all fresh — you’re just busy thinking about how to get your hands on your loved one! Being physically apart feels like torture, but once you’re reunited, the mutual attraction is just through the roof.” ― Olga Baker
11. If you want to kick off a visit by having sex right out of the gates, go for it.
“When together, it’s OK to have sex immediately to reduce the nerves. Then you can enjoy the rest of your time together. While sex is important, focusing on intimacy and romance can definitely keep the long-distance relationship alive.” — Brooks
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.