Dear Wendy: “Skype Sex With My Long-Distance Boyfriend Is Awkward”

When I moved out of the country four months ago to take a pretty sweet job abroad, my boyfriend and I decided to do the long-distance thing, and so far everything is great. We haven’t really had any issues other than lack of sleep due to staying up all night on Skype because of the time difference. Recently, we started having some frisky Skype sex sessions. After a couple frustrating attempts on my part, I have secretly started opening up windows and watching porn on silent to help me out. While this works like a charm, a part of me feels guilty, especially since I can see the action side-by-side with my boyfriend and he has no idea. It’s not that I’m not attracted to him … he’s so hot and he definitely turns me on, but I think it’s just nerves and anxiety about having video sex, so I need the extra help. My question is, do I have any reason to be feeling guilty? Is this any different than people picturing themselves with other people while having real sex? Is this something I can mention to my boyfriend, or would it be a complete blow to his ego? We are so open about everything else, I’d hate to keep this from him. — Feeling Like I’m in a Virtual Threesome

Yes, FLIIAVT, what you’re doing is different than people picturing themselves with other people while having real sex because you aren’t actually having real sex. That doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong, but you do feel guilty about it and you need to do something to alleviate that guilt or you won’t enjoy what it is you’re supposed to be enjoying. So, how do you alleviate your guilt? You either stop doing what you’re doing or you communicate with your boyfriend about what’s going on. In any case, no matter what the issue is, if one of the options toward a solution is communication, that’s the one I’d go with.

So, what exactly should you say to your boyfriend? Well, I wouldn’t open with, “Hey, when we’re having Skype sex, I’m getting off by watching porn!” Instead, I’d reiterate how much you love him, how attracted you are to him, how happy you are that you have technology to help you feel close, but that you miss physical intimacy and you’re having a hard time reaching that level of comfort between different countries that you share when you’re in the same room. Tell him that you have a unique kind of performance anxiety and you discovered something that helps alleviate some of it. And then go from there. Find out how he feels about it. Brainstorm other options to help alleviate your anxiety so you don’t get stuck on the porn crutch. And remember that when you’re so far apart, technology like Skype is supposed to help you connect with each other, but it’s not a sustainable substitute for real face-to-face, body-to-body communication. At some point, if you haven’t already, you need to begin forming a plan for getting rid of the “LD” in this LDR. The two most important things for any LDR are communication and an end date.

About three years ago, I decided to leave my boyfriend because I felt our relationship was not going anywhere. At the beginning he would beg me to get back together, but I was very firm in my position. A year later, my dad passed away after suffering from cancer. His death made me realize how much I had taken for granted, including my ex. Three months after my dad passed away, I literally begged my ex for a second chance, but he had already moved on with a married woman. However, we would still talk and he seemed confused, so I remained hopeful.

Shortly after, he found out his mom was suffering from kidney failure, and I offered whatever help he needed as I know what one goes thorough when taking care of a sick parent. I really cared about his mom and I let my ex borrow close to $1000 to help pay for her medical expenses. Later, I found out he used that money for other things. During this period, he told me MANY times that we would NEVER get back together and I decided to leave once and for all. But a month later, he called and we met for a drink. Once again, he made it clear he didn’t want to get back together, but we had sex that night. After that, he said he was still confused and that he needed time to think things over. I felt used and three weeks later, I found out that his relationship with the married woman was more serious than I thought and that she was actually getting divorced to be with him. I was very hurt, and I haven’t seen him for nine months.

Last night, I saw a friend of his and found out his mom his dying. I wish I could see her, just because I really cared about her, but I don’t know if I would be doing the right thing by going to the hospital. I want to see her but I don’t want to run into my ex and I don’t want to get hurt again. What do you think I should do? — Forget me, forget me not

You need to do a little self-reflection and ask yourself what your motivation is for seeing your ex’s mother. It’s interesting that you say you “cared” about her, as in past tense, as in she’s someone you either no longer care about or no longer think of in terms of your present life. If that’s the case, maybe the past is where she belongs. After all, your letter wasn’t even really about her. It was about your loss: the loss of your father (which I’m very sorry to hear about), and the loss of your boyfriend. It was about trying to hold on to something that no longer belonged to you and feeling resentful — or “used” — when you didn’t get it back. So, I can’t help but wonder how a visit to your ex’s dying mother fits into the theme of your letter: of loss and trying to hold on to something that no longer belongs to you.

You’ve had a rough couple of years; The loss of anyone close to us — especially a permanent loss like death — has the power to shake us to our core and make us question and re-evaluate all the rest of our bonds and relationships. It may even lend importance to some relationships that have already run their course. Your relationship with your ex-boyfriend certainly falls into this category, but your relationship with his mother might as well. Seeing her won’t bring back your father and it won’t bring back your boyfriend, and it probably won’t make you feel any more at peace about either of those losses, so if that’s what you’re hoping for, it would be wise to stay away.

If, though, you genuinely want to say good-bye to someone who has meant something to you and your motivation is strictly closure and not reaching for what’s already gone, then go. Avoiding your ex would be as easy as sending him a short, simple email expressing sympathy over his mother and asking if you can see her and when a good time might be to stop by the hospital when there likely won’t be other visitors. If the thought of that little bit of communication with him is too much, then visiting his dying mother in the hospital is probably too much right now as well, and I’d advise sending a heart-felt card to her instead.

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