With social distancing and travel restrictions back in force, many couples are trying to make a long distance relationship work
Thanks to COVID-19 many of us have been separated from friends and loved ones for far longer than we had anticipated. Dealing with physical separation can be especially tricky for couples, and many struggle to make long distance relationships work. For help, we asked for expert advice from sex coach Sara Tang and relationship coach Valentina Tudose as part of our Pillowtalk sex advice column.
Long distance relationships: Pros & cons
Valentina: Despite everything people believe, a long distance relationship can offer wonderful opportunities to create a deeper level of intimacy and connection—including maintaining the sexual spark.
When we spend every day with our partner, it is very easy to fall into routine and assume that we know everything about each other. Not only about what happens in their life every day, but also about their desires and fantasies.
Sara: Long distance relationships have become more of a reality for people during this pandemic. They pose many challenges, but one of the biggest downsides is the lack of physical and sexual intimacy. In fact, it’s easy to feel like your relationship is more platonic than romantic after some time has passed.
Valentina: I love the interpretation of the word intimacy when it’s spelled ‘into-me-u-see’. Sometimes when we are too close to something, our focus is too narrow. We think we know everything, when in fact we miss a lot of the bigger picture.
When it comes to sexual connection, proximity and comfort can quickly become passion killers, so I see distance as a gift.
The best way to start is by acknowledging that separation can make the heart grow fonder. If you think of this time as an opportunity, the natural separation anxiety can easily be reframed as anticipation of a new exciting phase in the relationship, which may open up many new possibilities.
Creating sexual intimacy in long distance relationships: Tips from Sara
I believe it’s totally possible to create sexual intimacy in a long-distance relationship, but you’ll need to be extra creative, intentional and open to exploring being sexual in new ways.
All intimacy, sexual or otherwise, starts with a foundation of good communication. Use the distance as a driver to make time for deeper, more meaningful conversations about sex.
Sometimes, people in long distance relationships can experience a heightened level of desire and longing for their partner. Use this to your advantage. Build anticipation for the next time you see each other, by fantasising and talking about all the things you’ll do sexually with each other.
Talk about what sex means to you, what you find most sexually attractive about your partner and what an ideal sexual encounter looks like to you. Share a list of things that you enjoy or would be curious to try, and gauge your partner’s interest.
Dirty talk is also a great way of building sexual tension with each other. It doesn’t always have to be X-rated, it can be suggestive or naughty or playful. Just find some language you’re comfortable with and make it your own. You can even send a sexy picture of yourself or an emoji, if words aren’t your thing.
Plan to have a regular sexy date night where you intentionally commit to maintaining your erotic connection. Now with the wonders of technology, it’s possible to share sexy erotica that you like with each other, or masturbate on-screen together. You could organise an erotic watch party, or do a sensual striptease for your partner.
I would suggest investing in an app-controlled sex toy (or several!) where one partner is able to control the pattern and speed of vibrations for the other partner from anywhere in the world. It can be extremely hot to watch your partner experience pleasure from a toy, and these products can add a lot of sexual spice to a long-distance relationship.
Creating emotional intimacy in long distance relationships: Tips from Valentina
If you are in a committed relationship and are about to be separated, for whatever reason, then it’s time to have a conversation about how you will use this time to grow your relationship—rather than letting geographical distance create emotional distance. Make conscious agreements about how often you will be communicating and create special rituals that will help you enhance your connection.
It may be helpful to take the 5 Love Languages Test so that you get a deeper understanding of how each of you wants to be shown love. All of us miss physical touch when we are apart from our loved ones, but it is not the only way we need to be shown love and appreciation. Explore ways in which you can leverage the other four languages (quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service) to maintain and even enhance your connection when you are far apart.
It also helps to set a specific goal that you will both want to achieve. For example, you may agree that while you are apart you will spend a certain amount of time talking about new ways you can explore your desires.
A helpful exercise is to make a list of your fantasies and fears—not just sexual, but all the dreams and anxieties you have about your relationship. Sharing these with each other can build a foundation of trust for how you can reassure each other while apart. If the partners don’t feel very secure in the relationship, separation can create a lot of tension. So having this discussion beforehand can help you negotiate specific actions that will create more trust between you and your partner.
If you are in a long distance relationship but have not yet met or have only spent a little time together, you may feel a great deal of chemistry and may become frustrated at not being able to satisfy your need to be in each others’ arms. Once again, you can turn this challenge into a great opportunity to determine your compatibility levels, which will save you time and hassle later on.
You can start by taking this Love Match Test as a launchpad for deep and meaningful conversations about values and what is really important for each of you in your ideal relationship. Use the results to ask more questions that can help you get to know each other intimately and keep building up the flame of attraction that will make your interactions hotter and more satisfying.
Sara Tang is a certified sexologist and coach. She believes that sex is a skill and everyone can learn how to get better in bed. She is most passionate about helping people who had a limited sex education or culturally conservative upbringing feel more connected and confident with their sexuality. Sara has previously been a student of Human Sexuality at Stanford University, an erotic writer, and a sex toy party entrepreneur. Follow her on Instagram @hellosarasense or visit her website.
Valentina Tudose is a Transformational Relationship Coach, hypnotherapist, sexpert and TEDx Speaker. She is passionate about educating and empowering her clients to communicate effectively, learn more about themselves and how to create positive, deeply meaningful relationships with others. She is one of the most popular Hong Kong TEDx Speakers with her talk on ‘Embracing Unconditional Love.’ Follow her on Instagram @therealqueenmaker or visit her website.