First off, "normal" is highly overrated. Let your freak flag fly, as I always say. But if you're trying to figure out whether your sex life in a long-distance relationship is normal, there are a few signs things are easy breezy — and a few things you can add to your repertoire to ensure a healthy and thriving long-distance relationship. "Long-distance relationships put intimacy to the test," says relationship psychotherapist Rachel Moheban-Wachtel. "Although the physical connection isn’t as prevalent, there are things couples can do to keep the spice alive in their relationship across the miles."
Some of it is pretty practical: Be sure to have frequent "date nights," travel to see each other regularly, and keep your sext game on fleek. But she also includes some other concepts — things like trusting your partner and sharing fantasies with each them — that are incredibly important in any relationship, and vital to keep an LDR going strong. It's never, ever a good idea to compare your relationship with anyone else's, but if you're pining for your love from afar and are feeling a little panicky about how your situation holds up, here are a few things that should be present in every healthy sex life of couples who live in very different zip codes.
1. Date Nights
Sure, everyone knows how to Skype, but do you schedule regular date nights with your partner that are a bit more involved than just a "hey, wassup" via video chat? If so, props. If not, perhaps you should consider it. "Technology today makes it easier to have the same type of dates in long-distance relationships as couples do when they live in the same city," says Moheban-Wachtel. “'Go to a movie' together by watching a movie at the same time and texting comments," she suggests. Or "play games together, such as 'name that tune' or '21 questions.'"
And don't do all of your dates fully clothed. "Schedule a phone sex or Skype date to share desires or engage in sex talk with each other," Moheban-Wachtel says. This'll keep things hot between face-to-face visits — and it's fun! (More on this later.)
2. Daily Verbal Communication
It takes ~two seconds to send a text. And though it's superfun to lob texts back and forth all day, your romance — and sex life — will take a hit if that's all you do. "People’s lives are busy," Moheban-Wachtel says. "Texting is so much easier and faster that many long-distance couples fall into the trap of sticking exclusively to this type of communication."
Don't do it, she warns: "Break out of the cycle and reconnect every night before bed by having a phone conversation. You’ll feel more like you’re a part of each other’s lives, and solidify the connection on a daily basis," which will lead to better sex when you're face to face — or screen to screen. "Also, if you’re ever upset, verbal communication is the only good way to handle the situation," says Moheban-Wachtel. "Speak in person or over Skype about these heavier feelings," she recommends.
3. One Word: Trust
For the best sex of your life, you must trust your partner. One way to foster trust is to be sure to speak to your partner daily — but not just about the quotidian mundanities of life (though those are important too). "Maintaining a daily connection lets you know the other person is thinking about you and vice versa," Moheban-Wachtel says. "Actively work to maintain the other person’s trust by reassuring them they’re the only one for you."
How to do this? "Share your lives," she says. "Make plans. And be as open as you can with each other about your goals for the relationship. You build trust by letting the other know the level of commitment you have, and how you want the relationship to grow."
4. Lots Of Cuddling
When you fly in for a visit, don't hit the town night and day. "Face-to-face interaction is vital," says Moheban-Wachtel, so "take advantage of your in-person time together by staying in and enjoying the intimacy of being together." Sex will obviously be on the menu, but for the best sex life — LDR or otherwise — make time to snuggle. "Touch, cuddle, enjoy each other physically, since distance doesn’t allow you to experience this part of your relationship," Moheban-Wachtel says.
5. Sexting Regularly
Couples in a long-distance relationship become expert sexters sooner or later — sextperts, if you will. This is a good thing, Moheban-Wachtel says: "Not only is sexting normal when you’re separated by distance, it’s also healthy. Keep the spark alive and maintain a sexual connection with pictures and shared fantasies." It's fun to change it up in this realm by incorporating Snapchat and other photo/video apps, so as to keep things playful and keep each other excited and interested.
6. Love Letters
I don't know if I would call this "normal" in this day and age, unfortunately, but this is, by far, my favorite method of keeping an LDR sex life fresh: Write hand-written letters to your long-distance love. If you're already doing it, mad props — and things are likely smoldering in the bedroom too. (Have you ever read James Joyce's dirty letters to his wife? Caliente.) "It’s easy to get caught in a rut of using the ever-accessible text messaging and email," Moheban-Wachtel says. "Break away from it once in awhile and surprise each other with a handwritten message."
So get out the stationery (or go to the store and buy some, because I bet you don't have any) and put pen to paper to express your feelings. "Old-style traditional letters are great, even with surprise gifts," she says. If you can get in the habit of sending care packages to your boo every month or so, and vice versa, this will cultivate serious feelings of anticipation and happiness — and you know where those feelings lead. (Hint: in the direction of great sex.)
7. Frequent Visits
Sign up for a credit card affiliated with an airline, because it's time to rack up the frequent flyer miles: "Too much distance can lead to more misunderstandings, loneliness and possibly an unnecessary disconnect," Moheban-Wachtel says. "Unless financial stress, exams or major life obligations are a concern, plan to visit each other every weekend or every other weekend. This way, the distance won’t feel quite as stressful."
In some instances, this is much easier said than done — if you're in LA and your beau is based in NYC, it's unlikely you'll be jetting back and forth every other weekend. If it's a physical possibility, heed Moheban-Wachtel's advice by all means. If not, prioritize face time (in addition to FaceTime) as much as possible. "By making the effort and going out of your way to see each other, you show you are working to keep the relationship alive and healthy," says Moheban-Wachtel. Also, guess what you can do when you're in the same room as your partner that you can't do from afar?
8. Skype Sex
You knew this one was coming. Partly because I warned you, but also partly because — duh. It's 2015 and we can Skype whomever we want whenever we want, wearing whatever clothing (or lack thereof) we want. "Some couples worry intimate dates over Skype is sleazy," Moheban-Wachtel says. "It’s not. It’s normal, healthy — and necessary."
As such, "surprise your partner with sexy outfits and different ideas on how to experience virtual intimacy," Moheban-Wachtel suggests. Now there's a term you don't hear every day: "virtual intimacy." I like it! "Maintain the sexual momentum and romance in the relationship by taking advantage of and embracing the virtues of technology," she says. The more you trust your partner, the more comfortable you'll feel — but keep in mind that Skype (or whatever your video chat of choice may be) sex takes practice. The more you do it, the more at ease you'll feel doing a sexy striptease "with your partner," aka in a room alone by yourself.
9. Being Present
Here's an easy one: Find out what turns your partner on and do it, Moheban-Wachtel says. "Is it lingerie? Buy something new," she suggests, and surprise your partner via video chat or next time you see them. "Is it fantasizing? Make sure to act these fantasies out when you see each other in person." It boils down to paying attention to your partner: "Every person and couple has their own unique ways of getting excited by another person," she says. "Understanding these will help you keep things exciting every time you meet." This is as true outside the bedroom as it is within. If you love when your partner shows up at the airport to greet you with a clean shave, thank him when he does just that. And the same goes for whatever your partner appreciates about you — do it, and notice what effect that has on him.
10. Sharing Your Fantasies
Here's what's up, Moheban-Wachtel says: "If your partner is into sex toys [and you are too], embrace it. Use them to spice things up and keep the intimacy alive." No worry if your fantasies don't align with your partner's, though it's always a good idea to be as GGG as possible. "If toys aren’t your thing, flirt and have phone sex to describe exactly what you want and wish to do to each other sexually," she says. "This can be just as spicy and sexy." Whatever the fantasy may be, talk about your desires with your partner and vice versa for a fulfilling and top-notch sex life in an LDR — or just a regular old LTR.
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