What Is FaceTime Sex? For Starters, It's The Hottest Thing You Can Do On An iPhone

One of the best parts of living in the 21st century — an era bubbling with technological innovation! — is that tech can upgrade our sex lives. Think contraceptives with the kinks smoothed out and high-tech vibrators, for example. But also, shoutout to the most underrated sex toy of all time: our phones. Apart from access to porn and IG thirst-traps, our phones give us the ability to trade spicy texts with (potential) lovers, have phone sex, and send nudes. You may have sexted on Snapchat or dirty-talked on the phone before, but you might still be wondering: what is FaceTime sex? It's the act of FaceTiming someone for the purposes of getting off together. It's just like traditional phone sex, but with the delicious bonus of a real-time, visual element. Typically, FaceTime sex sessions will involve dirty talk and masturbation. Sometimes, it's an extension of your IRL sex life, and sometimes, FaceTime sex is wonderfully different.

FaceTime sex (and Skype sex, and Facebook Messenger video call sex, and WhatsApp video chat sex, too) is a staple for people in long-distance relationships — I can co-sign that. But it's not exclusively for folks in LDRs. FaceTime sex is a hidden gem for anyone who's away from their partner or hookup for any amount of time, and gets struck with horniness. It's also nice because FaceTime itself can often force you to pay attention to your partner who's away. "When we're on the phone, it's easy to get distracted and not fully listen to the person on the other side. With FaceTime, that other person can see you, so you're more likely to remain engaged," says Mia Davis, CEO and founder of sex, sexuality, and wellness education platform Tabú. "You can also see your partner's facial expressions and body language, which gives you a better sense of how they are responding to you. This attentiveness is an important element of both virtual and IRL sex."

Ashley Batz / Bustle

FaceTime sex proved valuable for June*, 21, who was a in an LDR with her current boyfriend for the first two years of their relationship. They had FaceTime sex a few times a week. "We made the instances as similar to actual sex as possible," June says. "But since we were touching ourselves and not each other, it would tend to be very instructional." That is to say, they would tell each other how to masturbate over FaceTime. "There was a lot of 'faster' or 'more like this,' since we both got pleasure from touching ourselves and seeing the other touch themselves, as well." While she acknowledges it's not the same as "actual intercourse," FaceTime "provided a vulnerability and closeness that was similar."

Ashley, 32, recounts her FaceTime hookups with a travel nurse who out of town often. "Catching one another was always difficult. But when we did, it was lovely. She would send me the most sensual shots — not necessarily salacious, but simple things turned me on," says Ashley. "The placement of her hands, the curve of her mouth, her eyes. She would send me these photos and call me masturbating, knowing full well I was at work in my office." Ashley would then put on her headset, close her office door, and video call her hookup for some FaceTime sex — which consisted of masturbation on both ends.

As someone who hasn't had sex IRL yet, Serena*, 26, says FaceTime sex helped her open up to the idea of having sex. And as someone who gets anxious when meeting people in person, she also says FaceTime sex — with people she has met online — helped her get more comfortable with the idea of sharing her body with someone else. "I have met people [IRL], but it’s been a slow process and takes a lot of emotional energy for me," Serena says. "Which is why I think I have mostly preferred to have sex via FaceTime or cam with people. I just feel safer while I am exploring myself." (Camming being web camming, as in video chatting over your laptop or desktop instead of your phone.)

Santi Nunez / Stocksy

Meanwhile, Skye*, 21, has been in a long-distance relationship for six months now, and she and her girlfriend have FaceTime sex two to three times a week. "One of the most memorable experience I've had was actually the first time we did it." Skye was with her partner physically for two weeks before she had to leave for school in a different country. FaceTime sex had come up before, but they had never actually done it. "She initiated by stripping off her top, catching me totally by surprise. I remember being so surprised I couldn't even move until she began touching herself. Then, it [was] on," Skye says. The experience was so memorable for Skye because she had always been the one to initiate in their relationship. "Her being so active — especially with something that new to both of us — is so incredibly sexy."

When having FaceTime sex, Skye and her girlfriend use their fingers and tongues to show what they'd do to each other. They also make a point of setting the mood with teasing, nice lighting, and music. "After sex, we lay there together and talk about the sex, how much we miss and love each other, what we did or would do when we're there together," Skye says. "It's exciting and fascinating in its own way."

While FaceTime sex is a lit alternative to being sad, horny, and lonely — again, speaking from experience — it doesn't come without its own distinct set of hiccups and obstacles. As Tamia*, 25, puts it, "Finding privacy can be tough if you're young, because you likely have roommates that don't want to hear you telling your partner what you want to do to them with your tongue." Facts. Tamia currently lives with her parents and is "deathly afraid" of them hearing her dirty-talking. "Also, FaceTime has notoriously bad connection and you're always blaming the other one's network for why you keep freezing," Tamia says. "It can really kill the mood if you're putting on a show and find that you're actually frozen on your partner's screen."

June says her biggest obstacle was just finding a place to put her phone. "It’s hard trying to be sexy and trying to get a good angle and trying to keep the phone steady at the same time," she says. "I had a creative time with my feet, knees, and thighs trying to ensure I was putting on a good show."

Addictive Creatives / Stocksy

While there's only so much that can be done to improve video chat connectivity — making sure your device is on Wi-Fi vs. using cellular data — privacy issues and phone positioning can be addressed. Headphones can go a long way, for starters. And asking your roommates for some alone time (or confirming when they're going to be out with a heads-up text as a safety net) will be super helpful in planning your FaceTime sex sessions. As far as phone positioning goes, Sx Noir, an inclusive sex educator whose focus is sex and tech, says "Get that tripod poppin'!"

If FaceTime sex is something you've discussed with your partner (or something you want to get better at), Noir suggests beginning with your own pleasure. "Although your partner — or at least one of your partners — may not be physically there, practicing consent on yourself can be very exciting," Noir says. "'Should I keep touching myself here?' 'How fast?' 'Should I go slower?' When you own your own pleasure, sharing it with others is enticing, even if they are in another space."

Another solid FaceTime sex pro-tip is that simply explaining what you're doing or what you want to do can be really sexy. "Telling stories or reminiscing about past hot sexual experiences with your partner also makes for some great dirty talk," says Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of sex toy company Wild Flower. Once you've got your phone situation sorted and you're hands-free, Boyajian says, "Find an angle that focuses on areas of your body that feel sexy for you to share. If you love your legs, get them in frame." A camera angle that makes you feel hot can make all the difference when it comes to actually feeling comfortable with FaceTime sex. That being said, they definitely recommend is practicing beforehand. "If you’ve never seen yourself on your screen before, take some sexy pics or try recording yourself," the say. "This way you’ll be more comfortable and familiar when you include your partner."

You can also add a vibrator to the mix — whether that's you or your partner using one on yourself — can not only upgrade some already thriving FaceTime sex sessions, but can also be a great starting point if you're at a loss for what to do or how to masturbate on-screen. Boyajian recommends We-Vibe sex toys, which can be controlled remotely by your partner with the We Connect app. "Add in sexy points as you and your partner get to shop for the toy together beforehand if you want."

Guille Faingold / Stocksy

The number one tip sex educator and sexuality advocate Molly-Margaret Johnson (a.k.a. @whatswrongwithmyvagina on Instagram) gives on FaceTime sex is, "Lean into the strangeness and the silliness. It'll never be like the real deal, so play into what makes it unique." This means playing with camera angles, Johnson says, and teasing your partner(s) with to what's on-screen vs. what's off-screen. Adjusting the room's lighting, your clothing, and the space in general for maximum sensuality, comfort, and safety will all help the FaceTime call go smoothly.

"Start small and safe — maybe just give them a show — like dancing or a fashion show of your cutest lingerie. Try showering each other in compliments to gas each other up. Maybe just have a normal conversation completely nude," Johnson says. And of course, communication is key, but it's especially encourage in FaceTime sex. "Be your partner's number one cheerleader. Tell them when you dig what they're doing and also make sexy requests." For an upgrade, Johnson says, have FaceTime sex in the middle of the day. "Do it from a (safe) public place, make it a quickie, or try having a phone-sex threesome!"

Leah Flores / Stocksy

Apart from the mechanics and nuances of FaceTime sex, it's important to also check in with yourself. That means your emotional well-being and physical safety. In general, Noir recommends having some post-FaceTime self-care set up — like aftercare, but for FaceTime sex instead of BDSM. "It can feel lonely making yourself feel so good and not having someone to share it with," Noir says, suggesting that you and your partner chat for a bit or watch a show together after FaceTime sex. "Be ready for the slight mood dip when you realize your boo is not by your side."

Noir also says to beware of anyone who attempts to push you out of your comfort zone with comes to horny FaceTime calls. Above anything else, Boyajian says, make sure that you trust the person you're having FaceTime sex with. "And you’ve had a clear discussion of consent and boundaries. It is possible for someone to record their screen while you FaceTime — allowing them to record you without your knowledge — and there are also ways to snap pictures," they say. "Be aware of this and let them know if you’re comfortable with that or not." If you don't know the other person super well or trust them 100 percent, that doesn't mean all bets are off. That just means you've got to think smart and take little precautions.

As cybersecurity expert Jessy Irwin told Motherboard, "Making sure that one’s face is obscured — or that identifying features like tattoos, piercings, clothing, and even home furnishings are out of the frame — is important, because if they are covered or out of frame, they can’t be used to identify you if the image is made public.” Practically speaking, that means keeping tattoos under wraps with a sexy mesh bodysuit or distinct birthmarks hidden with a nice, lacy Savage x Fenty bralette. Just like with sex IRL, you've got to make sure you're doing what you're comfortable with, and that sex is fun and wonderful, not stressful. And just like with sex IRL, see each FaceTime sex session as a way to explore pleasure, and learn more about yourself and your partner to feel even better in the future.

Even though one type of sex is virtual and the other is flesh-and-blood, as Davis points out: both are rooted in the desire to increase intimacy with a partner and keep things fun. "Getting more comfortable with your own body through masturbation and self-appreciation can help boost your self-esteem and sexual confidence," Davis reminds us. FaceTime sex can also unlock the door to better and unapologetic communication with your partner, too. "When you can communicate your turn-ons and express your boundaries, you can create the sex life you desire," Davis says.

*Names have been changed.