Hi Yana,

My partner and I are temporarily in a long-distance relationship and he’s expressed discomfort with video chat sex. It sounds like it’s mostly based in discomfort with being naked and vulnerable in front of a camera, feeling unsure about how to make consent/communication work, and being creeped out about the lack of privacy on the internet. Overall, he’s also said the idea of video chat sex just doesn’t turn him on.

He’s open to trying to work through it, but his expression of discomfort has made me shy in trying to make things happen. Do you have any recommendations for us getting over the awkward hump of these valid hang-ups?


Trying to Log On

Dear Log On,

In July 2018, Trump signed into law a controversial set of bills now shorthanded as SESTA/FOSTA but formally known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Acts and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.

As their longer titles imply, these bills were advertised as cracking down on sex trafficking and non-consensual sex trades by making all websites liable for advertisements for or transactions of sex work or trafficking on their platforms. However, these bills sneakily also had major negative ramifications on adults who consensually provide sex work and even simply talk, educate about, or mention sex (Hi! Like yours truly!) on their online social media platforms.

As VOX explained in their immediate coverage of the laws’ passings, “All of this bodes poorly for the internet as a whole. After all, as many opponents of the bill have pointed out, the law doesn’t appear to do anything concrete to target illegal sex trafficking directly, and instead threatens to ‘increase violence against the most marginalized.’” These small websites include Instagram, Google Chats/Hangouts, and Craigslist (the former of which immediately shut down their personals section in response). Unbeknownst to many of the people voting FOR these bills who were like, “Yeah! Sex trafficking is bad news!” (Yes, true), these secretive, negative ramifications also apply to you, person on the internet, just trying to have consensual sex with your boyfriend over Skype.

I could go onnnnnn about the intersecting complications of these bills and who they have impacted the most since they were signed into law, but other people, many of them professional sex workers themselves, have already done that here in the Valley Advocate’s May 2018 article “Taking to the Streets,” as well as here and here.

So, your boyfriend might have a point about your Skype-ish sexual activities not being private nor necessarily legal nor non-policed thanks to ‘ol Trumpy-poo and the failure of SESTA/FOSTA to delineate between consensual and non-consensual sexual exchanges on the internet. Does this stop many people from sexting on the internet? No. But it’s something to politically consider as we move into the 2020 election season.

We won’t solve SESTA/FOSTA today, but we can solve the impasse you and your boyfriend are having about getting it on via online video. Having video chat sex when your boyfriend has clearly expressed his discomfort and disinterest in it brings up questions of consent and also, would it really be fun or sexy to have this kind of sex with someone who is really just not into it? Probably not.

But, I wonder if it’s possible to tease apart (har-har): What does it for you about video chat sex? and, Can you achieve those elements without having him participate in a way that he doesn’t want to? For example, could you make him sexy masturbation videos and send them to him? Is he OK with non-video phone sex? Could you have non-video phone sex while you video tape your end of things and send that along? Is he OK with sending you photos rather than videos? Sexy written stories and fantasies? Snail-mail??

Ultimately, if you’re looking to sexually connect with him, doing so in a way he doesn’t feel connected with likely won’t achieve your goal. So, rather than try to force-fit video chat sex specifically, get more creative about where your long-distance sexual Venn Diagram overlaps.

Either way, it sounds like your distance is temporary so no matter what happy or luke-warm medium you find, remember it won’t be forever.

Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.