The old videophone sci-fi concept is now portable wireless reality, and it's not just politicians and celebrities who are doing naughty things in front of cameras. Our resident love doctor explains if and when it's okay to bring it up.
Far too many people have had their sex lives exposed thanks to sex tapes—and not just the kind stored on digital cameras. Remember the Clay Aiken video chat sex-ish scandal? I do and it wasn't pretty, pasty white chest and all.
Many women and men are appropriately cautious about exposing themselves online. For your sake as well as that of your partner, I'd suggest holding off on video chat sex until you trust each other—and then some. Get to know each other well enough so that you can tell whether or not they're likely to be dishonest or if they have a strong temper. Have they tried to embarrass or shame past partners in any way? Have they tried to take revenge on former friends or exes? If so, you might want to keep your clothes on and vibrator in the drawer for the time being. Or get the Safer Sexting app for your iPhone and sext with photos for the time being.
Aside from possibly having your video chat sex on public display, there's a more personal reason to be thoughtful about your online sex. People attach different levels of meaning to being nude or sexual with others—even if just virtually. Some people will drop their pants on or off screen for just about anyone, regardless of how close they feel. Others will only do so with people they feel close to and with whom they feel safe and connected.
Should a hot and heavy game of online Scrabble tempt you to strip away your clothes and then the next day you change your mind and stop chatting or you start dating someone else and broadcasting it on your blog, it could break that person's heart. As such, I would suggest that you only suggest video chat sex when you have a sense that you can trust each other to be honest and private and when you can trust yourselves to be kind.
If both of those are true, then bring up video chat in the larger context of what turns each of you on. Dirty talk? Sultry texts? Lingerie? Vibrators? The Frucci Fleshlight video? By saying that video chat sex turns you on, you have the opportunity to ask the other person how they feel about it, whether they've ever tried it and whether they'd be open to trying it with you and under what circumstances. Oh, and whether they'd consider using the iChat roller coaster effect, which is crazy hot for sex chats.
For example, you might agree to not show faces or to promise not to take screen shots or to do some things on video (like show off your penis or vulva) but not others (like do naughty things with your iPhone). It's all about communication, boundaries and making sure your computer settings allow you to keep your screen bright even if your hands are busy doing other things.
Read more of Dr. Debby's love advice here during Gizmodo's Bad Valentine celebration.
Debby Herbenick, PhD is a Research Scientist and Associate Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. She blogs at MySexProfessor.com.
Webcam shot from mofetos/Flickr under CC license
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