How To Spice Up a Long-Distance Relationship Sexually: 14 Expert-Recommended Tips To Try

Photo: Getty/LaylaBird
When it comes to long-distance sex, thank your lucky stars you exist in 2024 rather than say, 1924. These days, technology like FaceTiming, texting, Bluetooth (more on that later), and even plain ol’ phone calls have made keeping the spark alive over long distances easier than ever. That said, intimacy in a relationship is an ongoing process—no matter how convenient staying in touch can be. Making a concerted effort to stay emotionally and physically connected with your partner when you’re long-distance is a worthy cause that will net you and your partner a deeper connection.

Experts In This Article

We spoke with the experts to discover exactly how long-distance sex can work for couples doing the LDR thang and gathered their tips on how to get started, exactly what to say, and alternatives for keeping intimacy alive if you aren’t super comfortable with, say, dirty video chatting, sexting, or cybersex. In any case, don’t stress: You just might find that your relationship is even stronger after spending time apart.

Why is intimacy important in a relationship?

Intimacy is key to a healthy relationship, and it can allow those involved to foster and maintain a strong sense of connection with one another. And intimacy can look different for those in a long-distance relationship. Long periods apart and a lack of proximity can often pose challenges for couples to connect on a deeper level—which is why it becomes all the more important to look for ways to keep intimacy alive and thriving. Long-distance sex can look different for every couple, so keep an open mind and remember: Connection and communication are key here.

Is it normal for long-distance couples to have phone sex?

Some long-distance couples have phone sex, and some don’t! Both options are normal, explains relationship and intimacy coach Jodie Milton. “You should feel comfortable choosing whichever option you like,” she says, adding that “it’s important you don’t feel pressure or expectation either way.”

How can I be intimate without sex in a long-distance relationship?

It’s totally possible to be intimate without sex in a long-distance relationship. “For a start, it’s helpful to redefine what sex is and the purpose behind it,” Milton says. Sex can be so much more than just penetration, Milton says, and it can be helpful to rethink of sex as “any activity where you bring the erotic vibes with the intent to connect and strengthen your sexual connection,” she adds.

"For a start, it’s helpful to redefine what sex is and the purpose behind it." —Jodie Milton, relationship and intimacy coach

By viewing sex through this lens, you’ve got a ton of possibilities for long-distance “sex”—such as sending dirty texts, erotic photos, talking about sexual likes and dislikes to better understand each other, and more, Milton adds.

However, you can also stay intimate without sex in a long-distance relationship by focusing on emotional or spiritual closeness, Milton says. “If long-distance sexual intimacy feels uncomfortable, focus on deepening your emotional intimacy,” Milton suggests. “Tell your partner what you appreciate about them and why. Share your inner thoughts and feelings with them as a way of letting them in. Get emotionally naked by letting them see the real you,” she says. No matter what your comfort level, there’s a long-distance date idea that will allow you and your partner to feel closer (and if that’s R-rated or not is up to you both).

How do you handle long-distance sex?

Below are three things you’ll want to keep in mind before having long-distance sex.

1. Boundaries and consent

If you and your partner want to try having long-distance sex, it’s good to first set boundaries and establish consent. What is each partner comfortable with? Will you be using webcams or your phones to see each other, or will you be going a more analog route with sexy conversation over the phone? Are screenshots okay or not okay? Establishing what’s off-limits will help everyone feel more comfortable being intimate. (And for the curious: These and more questions to ask before entering a long-distance relationship can be found here, while you’re at it.)

2. Safety

Yup, you still have to think about safe sex when having long-distance sex… just perhaps not in the way that you would initially think. While technology has opened new avenues for physical intimacy, there’s always a risk of someone intercepting private content. Regardless of whether you are engaging in virtual intimacy, sexting, or sharing nude photos with your partner, you might want to consider using online platforms with end-to-end encryption.

3. Ambience

Consider your surroundings, suggests Dominnique Karetsos, the CEO and founder of Healthy Pleasure Group. She recommends setting the mood by dimming the lights or creating a playlist for the occasion. Doing so can help create a comfortable and sexy space to get it on.

How to have long-distance sex: 11 expert-recommended ideas to try

With all this in mind, here are 11 expert-recommended ideas, including long-distance relationship sex ideas, to bring spice to your long-distance relationship.

1. Role-play with one another

Role-play is a great way to make the experience of long-distance sex fulfilling instead of feeling like you’re compensating for physical absence, explains intimacy expert Magda Kay. You don’t need to whip out the costumes (though you definitely can), but even just role-playing with different power dynamics can spice things up.

Tip: Kay recommends one partner perform while the other partner watches. This creates a teasing dynamic, and you can switch roles after a while so both partners can try both parts.

2. Write erotica for each other

Channel your inner poet, and write erotica or sexy messages to each other. This is a great way to keep the spark alive and build anticipation for future reunions if direct phone or video calls feel too intense, Kay says.

Tip: Do your research. Consider this your permission to go out and buy (or borrow!) some of the latest smutty romance books to get your creative juices flowing.

3. Engage in mutual masturbation

While masturbation is usually a solo act, self-pleasuring in a partner’s presence—aka mutual masturbation—can help boost intimacy, even if you aren’t in the same physical space. It also presents an opportunity to learn more about your partner’s turn-ons and preferences, and vice-versa.

Tip: It helps to start slow. Try mutual masturbation over the phone first before you go to video, so you and your partner can get comfortable with the idea of letting go of your inhibitions slowly.

4. Play with remote-friendly sex toys

“There are many awesome haptic sex toys available for couples in long-distance relationships,” says certified sex coach and author Gigi Engle. These long-distance sex toys allow a partner who's not in the same physical space as the toy control its settings (vibrations, pulsations, and intensities). Thanks to Bluetooth, long-distance sex toys are one of the best new digital intimacy tools available to couples spending time apart.

Tip: Try the remote- and app-controlled We-Vibe Sync, or use an oral sex simulator, like the Womanizer, while pretending your partner is going down on you to help bring the fantasy to a more IRL state. You and your partner could also use toys together at the same time while talking dirty on the phone or sexting.

5. Focus on having erotic conversations

FaceTiming isn’t a requirement for long-distance sexual intimacy, says sexologist Carol Queen, PhD,  explaining that visual and tactile elements of sex aren’t requirements for sexual intimacy. “Voice-only erotic communication can be evocative in a whole different way. Mastering erotic talk is its own super-useful sexy skill,” she says, adding that the more often you practice talking dirty, the easier and more natural (and pleasurable) it becomes.

Tip: Keep it simple and begin with phrases like “I want” or “I wish,” as sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD, shared in a previous interview with Well+Good.

6. Share your fantasies with each other

As Milton recommends, sharing sexual likes and dislikes as a way to better understand each other can be an ideal way to strengthen bonds and intimacy while physically separated. Being long-distance can also be a good time to share fantasies with each other, as the time apart can help you home in on what you’re really craving.

Tip: Add emotion to the narrative, says sex and intimacy coach Zoë Kors. For example, how would such-and-such act or fantasy make you feel?

7. Listen to audio erotica

Besides writing your own erotica, reading or listening to erotica together can also be a good way to stay intimate while long-distance. Not only is the act of listening to stories together sexy, but erotic stories can also help introduce you and your partner to sexual desires and fantasies that you might not have thought of before.

Tip: There are many erotica books and audio erotica apps for you to choose from, and they run the gamut from sexy to sensual. Assign yourselves some sexy homework, and have each partner bring one story to the table to share.

8. Sneak sexy notes in their suitcase

“Write a few little notes about what you want to do with your lover when you see them again, and sneak them into their luggage when they’re preparing to leave,” says sex educator Searah Deysach, owner of sex retailer Early to Bed. This can help make the act of saying goodbye to each other (temporarily) at least a little more manageable.

Tip: Deysach recommends penning something along the lines of, “I can’t wait to kiss the back of your neck,” or “When I see you again, I’m going to tear your clothes off with my teeth,” or “I’m touching myself thinking about the last time we had sex.”

9. Sext them

“Sexting is an amazing way to connect with someone if you’re not able to see them often,” as sexologist Sadie Allison, PhD, co-founder of GoLoveCBD Lubrication, previously told Well+Good. It’s also a great way to communicate your sexual desires to your partner, even (in fact, especially) if you aren’t ready to have these conversations face-to-face.

Tip: Consent is key, so before you press “send” on a dirty text, photo, or video, be respectful and ask your partner for permission, even if you’ve been physical before. It also helps to establish boundaries around sexting with your partner beforehand so you know what they are (or are not) comfortable receiving.

10. Surprise them with nudes

If you’re comfy with it, surprise nudes (within the scope of a committed partnership) can be a great way to keep that sexual flame burning and let your partner know you’re thinking of them from afar.

Tip: Definitely keep in mind when you send these pictures and videos as your partner might not want to get turned on while working or when they’re with family.

11. Send some snail mail

“A naughty Polaroid sent via mail can be an extremely fun treat to get, and your lover can keep it handy for thinking about you when connecting via phone is harder,” says Deysach. Plus, taking the time to mail something physical when everything is so instantaneous via phone these days is extra sweet and thoughtful.

Tip: For privacy’s sake, keep your face hidden while taking the photo, or whip out a pair of scissors and crop it out once it’s printed. And if sending non-digital nudes isn’t your thing, you can always take a hint from the above tips and mail a remote sex toy to use together or some of the erotica you’ve written.

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