What was once reserved for kinksters and long-distance relationships, is now the norm when it comes to hooking up and getting to know each other better. But many of us adapt swiftly—it took the Internet less than two weeks into the lockdown to host a big zoom orgy (the party was hosted by Killing Kittens, a semi-famous sex club whose entrance into Toronto in 2015, was a bust). And even regular people have to learn about their best angles and master the art of video lovemaking.  

My first time considering “internet sex” was back in 2011. My friend was trying to keep a long-distance relationship steamy, so began experimenting with online foreplay. It started with an exchange of nude photos, and dirty emails, but being an ocean apart, and at that time unable to visit—for financial reasons—she and her boyfriend began to get a little restless.

She called me one day in mild panic and said that the boyfriend wanted to have video sex. I’ve made home porn with a lover once or twice, but the horror of live performance was just too much. I had no words of advice for my friend—back then, I was a complex creature who did home porn but would die from embarrassment if I had to make eye contact while fucking.  

She ended up having her hot vid call, and said that it was great once she got over the strangeness of it all, mostly the awkwardness of having to see herself on camera. There was some giggling. And then once the clothes came off, basically, they just watched each other masturbate. She said it was unexpectedly bonding despite the screen, and the whole experience made them both more vulnerable—which is a good thing to be with the person you love. And it was kinky too in a way—especially the next time she used a sex toy that the boyfriend mailed her.

Yes, sure, people hooked up during the lockdown and they continue to do so but it’s so stressful.  And with the weather getting cooler (and bars and restaurants closed, at this time) where are you going to go on that first date? Still we make do. Try. The friends who date talk about the new protocols—having to decide beforehand if a handshake is okay, negotiating a hug, and, of course more (one guy tried to French kiss a girl friend while wearing a mask, which in itself should just eliminate him from the gene pool). Spontaneity is more or less out the window. And if that guy you’re talking to on the Apps is super eager to hook up and shows up maskless—because they’re bullshit—then it is possible he also believes in lizard people and Hilary Clinton being Satan.

But it’s not all over for sex. We just have to be a little more creative with it and adapt it to the current circumstances. I still haven’t tried it (I do eye contact now but my fear of live performance is strong) but I know that zoom fucking happens a lot. A friend who participated in one of those zoom orgies said it was incredibly hot to see all those strangers do things to their own bodies and moaning and cumming. I mean, after all, we all watch amateur porn (or make it ha ha) so it’s probably a bit like that, except now everybody’s a cam girl.

From friends who pandedate, I know that FaceTime is usually how people first meet. Prior to it, they agree to do something—screens apart—that you’d normally do together so have a coffee or a glass of wine while they get to know each other. I’ve heard that people go for walks together in their respective neighbourhoods before meeting in person six feet apart to go for an actual walk together. I also have a friend who FaceTime-works with her boyfriend who’s quarantined in a different country. Their FaceTimeing is not about sex but she told me that things have gotten sexy a few times, and they spontaneously got each other off. The boyfriend has one of those ridiculously low voices that sounds like he’s growling and she joked that hearing him instruct her on where to insert her dildo and how fast or slow, made her cum so hard that she now gets turned on looking at her phone.

Another friend told me that she and her long-distance guy have regular dates where she gets dressed up in her best lingerie and a cocktail dress and heels, he in a suit and a tie. At some point, he tells her to take off her dress, unclasp her bra, roll down her stockings. And he loosens up his tie, unbuttons his shirt… you get the idea. Having never been into roleplaying, they’re finding this pretend play quite exciting. 

If any of this feels intimidating to start, maybe begin by ordering a toy in the mail, or surprising your lover with one, and then have some fun unboxing it, together. We haven’t been shy about our love for Womanizer—this would definitely be a fun gift to test out and enjoy over a video call. Or just let them get worked up as they listen to you climax over a good old-fashioned phone call. 

Of course, nothing can replace human touch; that is true. But you can still have fun and feel close with your new lover. In a way dating during the pandemic reminded many of us of the importance of communication—you know, like when you negotiate if you’re going to be kissing with the mask on—and many of my girl friends say chivalry is back, flirting is even hotter and the anticipating of the real thing happening? It’ll probably light a few beds on fire. 

This piece is part of a series of sex-positive essays sponsored by Womanizer. Read more personal essays here.