Your Full Guide To Virtual Sex: 23 Ways To Try It, Risks & Expert Tips
Virtual sex is anything sexual in nature happening in a digital space, according to psychotherapist Ashley D. Sweet, M.A., LPC, LMHC. It includes any type of sexual activity on or with the internet. Video chat, phone sex, sexting, long-distance sexual play enabled by toys and sextech, and even some forms of interactive pornography all fall under the umbrella of virtual sex.
"Most people have engaged in some sort of virtual sex without realizing it," board-certified sexologist Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW, tells mbg. Some people assume virtual sex only refers to having sex on Zoom or interacting with cam girls, she notes, but "the first paid phone sex line was established about 40 years ago. I think it's helpful to put that into context as a way to normalize fostering sexual connection and pleasure when in-person [sex] isn't available."
Because you and your partner(s) don't actually make physical contact during virtual sex, some might not consider it "real" sex, but it is. Sweet emphasizes that sex is much broader than the typical view of penis-in-vagina penetration. "If it gets you off," she says, "put it in the bucket of sex." Cline also points out that "studies by the Kinsey Institute have shown that virtual sex creates emotional connections and sexual gratification in some of the same ways as in-person physical sexual acts/touch."
While many people might favor the sensory component of physical touch during sex, there are benefits of virtual sex. Besides eliminating the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, virtual sex is convenient, accessible for people of all abilities, and a great option to explore new sexual acts you may not feel comfortable doing in person. It also allows long-distance couples to create and maintain their intimacy from anywhere in the world. Likewise, depending on how you do it, virtual sex can allow you to connect with people outside of your daily life and routine.