Since the advent of the wheel, people have looked to advancing technologies to improve the quality of their lives. In digital times, there is an app for everything. We can have our food delivered, homes cleaned, waxing appointments scheduled, and bills paid within seconds. Now more than ever, digital sex is the safest route. From education to interactions, technology is changing the way we connect, love, and have sex as well.
A panoply of dating apps and websites has given us access to people with whom we may have never otherwise connected. This is great for people looking to forge new connections, casually or for long-term relationships. The flip side of so many options is that it can create paralysis around commitment, keeping people in ambivalent holding patterns, because they may continuously be searching for the illusion of greener grass elsewhere.
Apps with video features offer many ways to play with partners and create heat together, when being in the same room isn’t feasible. Designed for the on-the-fly photographer in anyone, they make it easier than ever to send a partner a sexy snap and get some dirty talk started. Teasing is nothing new in dating or relationships, but technology offers many ways to get creative, without having to get a degree in graphic design. A tripod, GIF creators, and video editing apps make it possible to surprise a partner with your own sexy memento to savor and refer back to. The catch is that once you share an image, it is nearly impossible to take it back. Even though revenge porn is illegal in many states, that doesn’t always stop people from using your sexy pics against you, so it’s best to be cautious until you know someone well enough to trust your hot shots are in safe keeping.
Beyond sexting, technology is a salve for busy couples in general, and especially for those in long-distance relationships, or where one or both partners travel frequently for work. People are staying sexually connected now more than ever, even miles apart! Teledildonics companies have paired sex toys with apps that either partner can control. Sex sleeves (designed for male genitals) and vibrators (generally designed for female genitals) can be controlled remotely, giving you and your partner endless ways to tease and stimulate each other from across the world! Couple this technology with a video chat, and it’s as close to the real deal as you can get.
Used in moderation, technology is an instrument that can help you fully express your relational, erotic, and sexual potential. Used excessively, technology can create challenges with intimacy, provide an unhealthy escape from real life, and foster gaps in empathy, due to its built-in buffer from the full range of others’ nonverbal communication and feedback cues typically received in real time. There is no substitute for the smell of a lover’s hair, the sound of their laugh, the touch of their hand, and the taste of their kiss IRL, but technology can help bring people together, even when they have to be apart.
Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, certified sex addiction therapist, PACT therapist, and founder of Modern Intimacy, a group practice in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Listen to her podcast, Modern Intimacy, and follow her on IG @drkatebalestrieri.
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