How to maintain long-distance love

Timaree answers your questions about sex, love and relationships

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Sex advice shouldn’t be syndicated. We wanted a local feel to ours so we’ve enlisted the sound advice of resident sex professor Timaree Schmit. Have a question about your love life that needs answers? Email her at asktimaree@philadelphiaweekly.com. | Image: Redlite photos

Whether you met a hottie while traveling, are moving temporarily for school, or simply can’t be in physical proximity to your lover because there’s a barely-controlled pandemic, it’s a good idea to know about maintaining relationships over distance. 

I checked in with a few folks who have sustained love over the miles.

KR and partner (together for several years, partner is 3,700 miles away): 

A long-distance relationship is definitely not my first choice for a relationship style. Once you’ve made the conscious decision to be emotionally or sexually connected to someone from a distance, then you can actually have a lot of freedom to define how the relationship works best for you and your partner.

In my circumstance, my partner and I were separated because of immigration. The beginning was full of longing, wistful texts of “I love you” and “I can’t stop thinking of you.” There was just so much emotion that we wanted to stay as connected as possible. We told each other that we would always be in each other’s pocket. 

Similarly, feelings of sexual frustration ran high, but video chats were new and exciting, so this satisfied our craving for sexual intimacy. As time went on, we had to continually check-in and explore how we wanted our intimacy and sexuality to evolve in a way that allowed us to actually live our separate day-to-day lives.

“As time went on, we had to continually check-in and explore how we wanted our intimacy and sexuality to evolve in a way that allowed us to actually live our separate day-to-day lives.”

To maintain our emotional intimacy, we always start the day with a video chat to share any joys or worries about the day ahead. For sexual connectedness, we have explored sending suggestive photos throughout the day, planning sexy video chat dates, and talking all about things we are interested in as well as things we are curious about trying or learning about when we are together next. These open and frank conversations have allowed us to reach a deeper level of understanding each other as well as ourselves so that when we do someday get to live together that we might just be way ahead of the curve communication-wise.

RT & partner (together 8 years, 1,960 miles away):

It probably makes a difference that our long-distance sexual relationship is grounded in an in-person sexual relationship. We do a lot of texting each other sexy things and talking about sex on text. When we have sex, it sometimes is on video chat, but more often a combination of text and audio recordings. For us, a lot of what we do from afar is also shaped by our D/s dynamic.

We text all day, and we used to have set date nights to talk, but now we make sure to say hi and hear each other’s voices every day. We send a lot of audio messages, pictures of our day, from the mundane to the exciting to sexy. And after a lot of practice, we’ve done prolonged scenes essentially that involve, honestly, what just feels like fucking from afar, where it’s not doing it for yourself at all, it’s because the other person is really guiding whatever it is, giving instructions, and responding.

Stephanie and Johan (together 1 year, 4,000 miles apart):

We envision dates we would like to have, and then go on them! Bring the other over video chat and share the experience. Once I took Johan to a Swedish goods shop in Lancaster, and he advised me of all the best candy and treats to buy. It was very special. Sending little surprise gifts to each other helps your partner feel thought of. We recommend doing a little research into your partner’s hometown and supporting the small businesses there. All of this develops and nurtures a special bond, and sets the stage for a feeling of love, safety, and most importantly TRUST. 

“Ultimately, what matters is that you are able to communicate your needs and wants and build the relationship that works for you.”

There is SO much trust that needs to be maintained. People need to trust that they are loved, and that their partner is being faithful (including ethical non-monogamy if that’s what you’re practicing). Also, with the amount of digital content being shared, and video chat sex, you have to trust that your partner wouldn’t act maliciously with it. 

Share your emotions and needs. Do not hide that you are having a bad day. You’re not doing yourself or your relationship any favors by dealing with life alone. They are called partners for a reason. Lastly, do your Gods damned best to be patient. Always keep in mind that you both are experiencing desire and loneliness together. In these special times, there’s no choice but to quit, or stick it out for love. It will happen, one very special and VERY SEXY day. 

JL: 

A majority of my relationships are long distance. I’m poly. Each of my relationships differ. The two that are in a way the most active, we text each other pretty frequently and FaceTime at least once or twice a month. Our lives are very busy and we try our best to respect that. For my partner in the same state as me, we see each at one weekend or one week a month. Communication and compassion has been key. Also recognizing that we have to trust each other to know the boundaries in the relationship and willingness to discuss the changes with boundaries frequently.

We can see that meaningful and regular interaction is a big piece, and something that even people who share a house can take into consideration. What are some other things that are recommended?

Be clear on boundaries and needs: What level of contact do you expect? Will you travel to see each other? What kind of romantic or sexual options do you each have with other people? Will this remain at a distance? Do you expect that eventually you will be in the same place and how will that change things?

Embrace technological options: Texting, video chats and sharing porn links and saucy pics are obvious upsides of LDRs in the modern era. There are also apps designed for partners and don’t forget about products that allow lovers to share physical touch over Bluetooth or even engage directly in sexual acts using teledildonics

Go Old School: Who sends a letter anymore? Maybe you do – because it’s extra special to get handwritten smut through the mail, as a belated fuck you to Anthony Comstock. Same with some good, old-fashioned phone sex. 

Another upside of long-distance love is the possibly extended spark of novelty. Since it’s so exceptional to get to be together, and you don’t get tired of each other, this model of dating might be ideal for particularly busy folks. Ultimately, what matters is that you are able to communicate your needs and wants and build the relationship that works for you. 

Have a question for Timaree? Send an email to asktimaree@philadelphiaweekly.com.

  • Timaree Schmit Headshot

    Timaree Schmit is basically an episode of Adam Ruins Everything, but in the shape of a person. She has a PhD in Human Sexuality Education and years of experience in community organizing, performance art, and finding the extra weird pockets of Philly.