Long distance relationships are hard for lots of reasons, lack of physical intimacy and sex being cited as the most challenging aspect.
While we patiently wait for teleportation to become a thing, those in LDRs have to make do with the tactics and technology currently at our disposal to get saucy - which, all things considered, has made huge strides from what couples even ten years ago had to work with.
We compiled some of our favorite ways to keep the sexual spark alive, whether you and your partner are 100 miles or 10,000 miles apart.
1. Surprise each other
While sending a letter or a care package doesn't seem innately "sexy", it says to your partner: "I'm thinking of you". Even if you're in a well established relationship, you should always be considering ways to show that you continue to choose each other, especially when you spend long periods of time apart. Surprising your partner with a simple but sweet gesture is one way to do that.
If could be as small as a "thought of you and wanted to say hello" email that you know they'll see first thing in the morning, a surprise gift card for Postmates for a self-care night, or a care package with some of their favorite snacks or a gift you know they've had on their wishlist for a while.
A good old fashioned love letter with a little perfume or cologne sprayed on it goes a long way as well.
2. Send pics
Next time you're feeling in the mood, put on your favorite sexy underwear, find the best lighting, blast a sultry playlist, and have some fun experimenting with angles for a solo photoshoot.
Consider creating a private photo album where you can safely #sendnudes. There are lots of apps out there that serve this exact purpose. You could also do an analog photo shoot with a good old fashioned Polaroid camera, as long as you trust your partner to securely store the physical photo evidence.
While it's fun and makes you feel sexy to take pictures of yourself, it's understandable that you might want some pics of your partner in return! As long as they're comfortable with it and you aren't pushing them into anything, you could send pics of yourself and then add on "would love to see some of you ;)" at the end.
Tip: black and white photos can be especially flattering, if you're struggling with lighting or just want to give your photos an extra bit of sensuality.
3. Have phone (or Skype) sex
If it's not a regular thing for the two of you, phone or Skype sex should be something you don't spring on each other out of the blue. Give you partner hints beforehand with flirty texts, telling them that you've been thinking about them all day or you can't wait to hear their voice later.
If you're well versed in dirty talk, phone sex should feel fairly comfortable. If not, things might feel awkward at first, but you'll get the hang of it once you're in it together - you sort of just have to dive in and try! The key is to be detailed when it comes to descriptions and use questions to your advantage. Ask your partner how they want you to touch them and then ask how it feels while you both touch yourselves or use a toy. If you don't want to start from scratch, you could recount a memory of having sex with each other to relive the experience.
Remember to be responsive, using "mm-hmm", sighs, moans, and heavy breathing liberally. If they can't see you, they want to be sure it's working for you.
If you plan on doing a video call, wear something that makes you feel sexy and set the atmosphere. You probably wouldn't get super turned on by a pile of dirty laundry and bright fluorescent lights during in-person sex, so video sex shouldn't be any different - maybe light a few candles and make yourself the focal point of your partner's view.
And maybe double check that no one else is home if you live with others.
4. Get into sexting
If phone or Skype sex is the sex itself, sexting is the foreplay. While you'd get more into the nitty gritty with sex itself, foreplay often flourishes when you lean into subtlety.
The art of sexting comes down to less is more - little hints about what you're wearing, what you're thinking about, a sexy dream you had about your partner. Tickle their curiosity and leave some of the imagination up to them.
A bonus of sexting is that it can make it easier for you to communicate your sexual desires to each other, which can be kept in the back pocket for the next time you reunite.
The point, as with everything else mentioned here, is to have fun, but safety and privacy should still be a priority. You can use apps like Signal or Whatsapp that have stronger security, making it less likely you'll have any major sexting mishaps.
5. Embrace technology
Thanks to modern technology, it's easier than ever for partners across time zones, continents, and cultures to keep a physically interactive sex life. Whether used completely on your own to keep your sex drive sharp or in tandem with a partner during phone sex, sex toys apply very real (and powerful) physical sensation to LDR sexual experiences.
There are sex toys out there that let you sync your device to be controlled by someone remotely using an app, adding a dose of thrill and unpredictability, but you can also look towards simple vibrators or other personal sex toys to operate yourself.
Remember that your vibrator isn't meant to be a replacement for your partner themselves, and it's highly unlikely they'll feel that way. In fact, it's more likely they'll get turned on by thinking of you getting off, period, in whatever way it happens.
Being in a relationship, even a non-LDR one, does not mean that all your sexual needs need to be fulfilled by your partner. It's not realistic or fair to your partner (or yourself!) to have those expectations. Masturbation is healthy and fun for everyone, but may play an especially vital role for long distance-ers.
A 2009 survey shoes that women who are in a relationship masturbate more frequently than women who are single and not dating. According to Claire Cavanah, the co-founder of Babeland, "sex begets sex. Once the sap starts flowing, you're going to do it more."
Not only will masturbating keep you satisfied in the moment; it'll keep your sexual desires and sex drive alive and well, building up anticipation for the next in-person visit.
7. Check in, frequently
It's normal to feel a little extra anxiety around wondering if your partner's needs are being fully met when you're in an LDR. Instead of worrying about it nonstop, make it the norm to have regular chats about the status of your relationship.
Revisit all the little assumptions or agreements you've made, making sure you're on the same page about specific details, like the level of monogamy you'll keep, what "counts" as cheating for both of you, how consistently you expect to hear from each other, and how often you want to schedule visits (and how you'll split the labor of the travel and financial commitment to do so).
Communication and full transparency is incredibly sexy.
More than half of all long-distance relationships make it in the long run and a 2007 study found that people in long distance relationships report more positive reminisces, communication quality, and even romantic love than people in geographically close relationships.
Distance can make the heart (and sexual organs) grow fonder, it turns out.