Lately I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are having the best sex of their lives—and amazingly, they’re doing it virtually. Even though I know nothing good has ever come from me comparing my own sex life to others’, it’s hard to stop. I’m pretty sure cyber sex is 100% not for me, but it feels lonely as hell when you’re single during a global health crisis and the only way you can have sex safely is the way you hate the most.
For me, the feeling of FaceTime sex is no different than the feeling I get while sitting in Zoom meetings, when I try my hardest to look at everyone but myself. If I get bored of looking at the person who’s speaking, I watch someone sip their coffee or adjust their camera or yawn. Anything is better than having to see my own face. Because if I look, I’ll fixate on the pixelated image of myself and feel insecure, ugly, and repulsed. That same feeling hangs over me in the virtual bedroom.
And it’s not just video sex. For me, audio sexting has always evoked the same emotion as having to hear a recording of your own voice and learn that you have a slight lisp or a subconscious sniffle. I don’t want to get to the point where I overanalyze the way I sext as much as I do the way I speak.
Yet even good old-fashioned sexting usually requires conscious, cumbersome thoughts about your body. Not only do you have to think about what you’re wearing, what you’re doing, and what you’re feeling, you also have to describe it. I’ve always fixated on the tiny digital image of my body on FaceTime, but my relationship with cyber sex is strained by so much more than that.
To get over the cyber sex jitters, I’ve been trying a few things. If you’re also in the process of trying to figure out whether cyber sex is for you, maybe these tips can be of use.
Play around with the idea (if you haven’t already).
There’s nothing wrong with jumping into cyber sex and deciding you don’t want to go through with it later on. If you haven’t tried it before, dip your toes in the water by taking it to the next level with that Tinder match you’ve been Snapchatting. Dress up in something that makes you feel sexy or send a spicy sext. If it turns out cyber sex isn’t something you enjoy, at least you’ll know you gave it a shot.
Talk to someone.
Open up a conversation with someone you trust, whether that’s a close friend, a family member, or a coworker. That’s not to say you owe them an explanation for why you don’t want to have cyber sex, but it still might help to talk to them about how you’ve been feeling. More often than not, when I think I’m the only one experiencing something, speaking to a friend about it makes me feel less alone. Even if their experience with cyber sex is completely different from yours, it’s always nice to talk and have someone listen.
Try something new.
No matter your experience level, there’s probably something you have yet to try. As much as I dislike having to look at my own body on FaceTime, that hasn’t stopped me from being curious about other kinds of sex. I’ve heard of people writing personalized erotica for each other and sending it in the mail, which, with the right person, sounds like my dream. What’s yours? Curating sexy playlists for each other? Giving and receiving saucy surprise gifts? Make it happen if you can. If not, you can still look forward to it.
Take a break.
Let yourself relax for a while. When sex is on your mind constantly, it can be exhausting. At the beginning of quarantine, I watched (so much) porn, I researched sex toys I definitely couldn’t afford, I read article after article on how to have amazing cyber sex, and I ranted to my friends about how horny I was. Eventually, I realized I was so focused on sex it was almost all-consuming. Since that wasn’t working, I’ve started to make peace with the fact that cyber sex isn’t going to happen for me anytime soon and the pressure to have the best sex of my life has started to slowly fizzle out. Don’t give up for good, but it’s okay to take your foot off the pedal.
Accept that cyber sex might not be for you.
My cyber sex insecurities might last forever, or they might not. For a while, virtual sex seemed like a skill as necessary as holding a pencil or tying your shoe. It’s not. If I go the rest of my life without ever showing another nipple on FaceTime, I’m alright with that. But I also know that as I grow up, I’m bound to change and so is my attitude toward sex.
By Natalie Mechem
Cover Image by Clayton Cubitt for Wired
Illustration by Alexa Flores