Technology …Can It Make Intimacy Better or Not?

Sure, a haptic sex toy-facilitated romp with a long-distance lover might keep a relationship alive, but technology can create forms of intimacy beyond simulated sex.

The most groundbreaking user interfaces developed over the next several decades will likely provide us with new opportunities to interact with each other in artificially immediate ways. Access to each other’s bodies may pale in comparison to access to each other’s memories, emotions, and experiences.

Shared thoughts will never replace shared fluids, but these emerging technologies just might provide something more shockingly visceral.

The Mind Reader

Is there anything more intimate than getting into someone’s head? Sure, mind reading could be intrusive to a fault — Kylo Ren’s use of the Force is borderline rapey — but relationships are all about making those deep mental connections with consent. And there are new technologies being developed that could soon make mental communication a lot easier. Take BrainGate, a system that can translate brain waves directly into actions without having to be translated through language or the body — mediums that, more often than not, just introduce noise. Could transmission of pure thought between partners be next?

The Mind-Gasms

The future of brain-based intimacy largely rests on the fact that sex is a mental exercise. Orgasms manifest in the brain through a release of oxytocin in the hypothalamus and the activation of the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s pleasure center. Rolling with this idea, futurist Scott O’Brien has suggested that we could someday stimulate those brain areas directly using neural-based headsets, producing orgasms without the burden of bodies. It isn’t a new idea — remember that infamously uncomfortable brain-sex session in Demolition Man? We’re getting closer to making than an uncomfortable reality.

The Long-Distance Heartbeat

A lot of work has gone into simulating sex, but little has been done about recreating the comforts of the afterglow. A device called Pillow Talk might be the first step: Through pulse-monitoring wristbands and pillow-embedded speakers, the device lets long-distance lovers fall asleep to the sound of their partner’s heartbeat. “By sharing something so intimate with each other,” as the project developers describe on their Kickstarter campaign page, “you can feel connected in a unique and special way.”

The Sounds of Love

A Japanese sound artist known as Rory Viner has attempted to recreate the sensation of sex aurally by turning bodies into instruments. By tracking his and his partner’s movements during sex using piezoelectric sensors then channeling the data through an interface that translated motion into music, he composed his coital opus, “Sex, Sensors, and Sound.” While it’s never really comfortable to hear the sounds of someone else’s lovemaking (though the 42,000 hits his experiment has racked up would suggest otherwise), creating — and replaying — those you make with your own partner could foster a new kind of art-based intimacy.

The WhisperA

The autonomous sensory meridian response has turned into a YouTube phenomenon, thanks to the millions of viewers who tune in to intimate videos of people doing and saying mundane things — like folding towels or wiping glass — to trigger a pleasant tingling at the back of the head, scalp, or neck. The phenomenon isn’t well understood (or universally accepted as a scientific reality), but its effects are known as “brain orgasms” for a reason: It triggers a sense of pleasure that has little to do with physical sex and everything to do with hacking the brain. (Of course, this hasn’t stopped ASMR from making the controversial crossover into erotica, giving viewers a sensational double-whammy.)

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Long Distance Relationships: Do They Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

…being in a long distance relationship, at least for some amount of time, has become a hallmark of modern dating.

Technology has had a huge impact on how we interact and participate in relationships. This goes double for long distance relationships.

The whole concept of LDRs has taken on new meaning thanks to Skype, FaceTime, and iMessage. To say that these types of relationships are “not what they used to be” would be a major understatement. Being in a long distance relationship for some period of time has become a hallmark of modern dating.

When it comes to long distance dating, there are two prevailing opinions that everyone seems to accept. However, they directly contradict each other.

Opinion 1. Are LDRs risky and destined to fail? Most friends and family will likely tell you this before you ignore them and decide to give it a try anyway.

Opinion 2. Or is there actually some truth behind the old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder?

What does the research say?

As it turns out, recent research is on the side of LDR believers. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Communication set out to challenge the notion that long distance relationships are inherently less fulfilling and less sustainable than their geographically-close counterpart. The authors of the study, Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey Hancock, found that this type of partnership can actually form stronger bonds, promote deeper communication, and produce greater intimacy than traditional relationships. The reason for this is that long distance couples work harder to communicate affection and intimacy. They generally appreciate each other’s behaviors and actions more.

If this doesn’t convince you, another, more recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy last year found that there were no major differences in outcome predictors of long distance relationships and regular ones. This study, which asked participants to assess and measure the levels of intimacy, commitment, communication, and sexual satisfaction in their relationship, among other things, concluded that LDRs are not actually at a disadvantage.

There is no denying that dating long distance can be stressful, challenging, and oftentimes lonely. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not worth trying. With the help of modern technology, it seems that LDR couples are finding more ways than ever to feel close to each other The extra effort and planning this requires actually brings greater rewards. Additionally, may people find that they are more independent and have more time to themselves. At the same time, they still enjoy the emotional benefits of being in a relationship.

However, there is a caveat…

One caveat to these studies is translating the extra effort and newfound emotional satisfaction back to a short-distance relationship. For a long-distance relationship to really work, the “long distance” part must come to an end at some point. When this happens, it may require some serious readjustment. And, unfortunately, more couples break up within the first three months living back in the same place than they do while living apart.

According to Jiang, long distance couples “tended to idealize their partners’ behaviors, perceiving them as more likely to share personal thoughts and feelings and more responsive to their own thoughts.” While this is beneficial during the time apart, the enhancement of positive feelings about the relationship might actually create false expectations about how things will be when the couple reunites. As Jiang explains, “[t]he positive illusion goes away when they spend more time together.”

While LDRs can foster healthy behaviors in each individual and promote optimistic feelings about the strength and value of the relationship, these things ultimately need to exist in the relationship whether it’s long distance or not. As Andrew Merolla, an associate professor of communication theory, sees it, the strength of a long distance relationship depends on the strength of the relationship itself. As such, the outcome of either is likely going to depend on the couple’s ability to find a balance — whether that means creating a little more space when there isn’t enough, or working to make every interaction count when there’s too much.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Taking a Turn Into a Commuter Relationship

We went for it anyway … even though we were geographically undesirable. Love knows no bounds, right? So we flew in the face of reason and committed to a commuter relationship.
If it weren’t for the vexing distance between us, we’d be the inspiration for a Lifetime movie. His marriage officially dissolved the same week my husband died 51/2 years ago. Middle-aged, hearts trampled, we rediscovered joy and magic and all those things supposedly reserved for the young.

We’d been friends for 30 years. We met when my husband and I were soon-to-be-married sweethearts. He was an unattached young lawyer starting a career in Century City. We double dated with him and a seemingly endless string of girlfriends. There was a fiancée in there somewhere. Then he got married, and we folded his wife into the friendship. There were four of us until there were just the two of us.

Our friendship continued. We went to dinner. We went to the movies. We went to concerts. The names of my husband and his ex-wife peppered our conversations. For some time and in so many ways, there were still four of us at the table.

After about a year, we struck a deal. If neither of us had anything else to do, we would get together on Saturday nights. Most of the time neither of us had anything else to do. Another year went by and another, and we became one another’s go-to invitee, each other’s when-in-doubt plus one.

Gradually, we both began to laugh again. And once a week morphed into twice a week. Sometimes three.

No one was more stunned than I when we made the hairpin turn from friendship to coupledom, but we did — somehow glacially yet all at once.

But shacking up is not so easy for the middle-aged. If only our lives, like ourselves, were not quite so set in their ways. Being geographic undesirables was not the only issue.

He had a dog. I’m allergic. He wanted to return to practicing law after a long hiatus and was studying for the bar round the clock. I had a book coming out and was polishing the final edit and learning how to be interviewed without feeling like I was going to throw up.

Things worked themselves out as things sometimes do with a bit of serendipity. Duncan, his Cairn terrier, bit one too many hands and landed himself in a center for non-rehabilitative canines.

He passed the bar (as he had done the first go-round), and I learned about mens rea and replevin along the way.

I grew so accustomed to doing radio that I actually enjoyed spending 15 minutes sitting cross-legged on my bed in my sweats chatting with the folks in Portland, Ore., or Boise, Idaho.

During this time, however, our city’s long incipient atherosclerosis exploded into acute arterial blockage everywhere you turned. Literally, everywhere you turned: left, right, north, south, east, west.

I stuck with the 405.

He checked online traffic reports incessantly.

I tried Wilshire.

He’d call with a Google Maps update: “It’s all red.”

I zigzagged south to Olympic or Pico.

“Let’s have dinner tonight,” he’d suggest. “I’ll come over around 2.”

A.m. or p.m., I wondered.

He’d call from the road. “I’m on La Cienega.”

“That’s crazy!”

“You always think map. You have to think time,” he explained. He had driven 9.4 miles out of his way to save 5 minutes. One Friday afternoon, he actually abandoned his car and walked the 1.1 miles to my house.

On the other hand, I veritably flew home when I left his house at 7 on a Saturday morning. Late one Thursday night, he “got home in two songs.”

This made matters only more maddening. Why couldn’t it always be like this? Why does Gustavo Dudamel insist on taking the podium at 8 p.m.? Why are dinner dates with other couples at … well, dinner time? Why are there so many cars and where are they all going? And, admittedly, why are we both so stuck?

He claims to be addicted to the beach. It’s a gestalt thing, since he has set foot in the Pacific once in five years. But he does walk the shore, delighting in the neon kaleidoscope of the Ferris wheel as he strolls at night. My life revolves around people and places inland. There’s the studio where I zumba for endorphins; the neighbors who watched my daughter grow up and held my hand when my husband died. This is my home, where my roots go deep.

Some day this may change. It’s not impossible that one day the trek to see one another will be from the kitchen to the den. But for now, we find ourselves in a long-distance relationship: 7.06 miles on surface streets. 8.01 on the freeway. We may need a sherpa, but we deal with it because, stunningly, second-time-around romance turns out to be worth the irksome commute … even between Brentwood and Santa Monica.

5 Ways You Can Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

What comes to mind when you think about surviving a long-distance relationship?

Do you experience negative or positive emotions? Whether you have been in a long-distance relationship for a while, or recently started a long-distance relationship, it’s important for the both of you to be on the same page.

Being in a long-distance relationship is a challenge, but definitely worthwhile if you are committed to developing your relationship. A long-distance relationship can either bring the two of you closer together, or pull you further apart. I want to share with you the top 5 precedents that my husband and I used while we were in a long-distance relationship. I highly suggest that you share this article with your partner. There will be a “Take Action” exercise at the end of each precedent that I encourage the both of you to implement. This article is not really about just “surviving” a long-distance relationship, it’s about developing and growing your long-distance relationship.

Precedent #1: Be Committed

When you are in a long-distance relationship, it’s important for the both of you to know that you are equally committed to developing the relationship. Why bother being in a long-distance relationship when one or both of you are not committed? You might as well just have it be a fling and then find someone locally. So, the first precedent to surviving a long-distance relationship is to both be committed to maintaining and developing your relationship.

Take Action:

Spend some quality time talking with your partner about the commitment that you have in the relationship. It’s important that the both of you are on the same page when it comes to investing your time and energy into it. It’s all about effective communication and knowing that you are just as committed as your partner. Simply ask your partner, “Are you committed to developing our relationship?” The sooner you’re able to be on the same page, the sooner you’ll know if this relationship is worth your time and energy. Wouldn’t you rather know where your partner is at now instead of investing so much and possibly finding out later that they’re not as committed as you thought? Be open and make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to the level of commitment in the relationship.

Precedent #2: Write it down

Surviving a long-distance relationship is definitely a challenge, but when you know what your partner plans on doing in developing your relationship, you will feel much more secure. It’s important for you and your partner to write down on a piece of paper the commitments that both of you plan on living out every single day in developing your relationship. My husband and I did this while we were in a long-distance relationship and eventually used these commitments for our vows on our wedding day. I’m not saying write down your future wedding vows, I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know the power of writing down your commitments to each other.

Take Action:

Use whatever kind of communication that the two of you have and take the time to write down your commitments to each other. I would suggest using either Skype or FaceTime when doing this exercise. It would be best to actually see your partner. Start off by writing, “My commitment to (your partner’s name)…” Then start writing down the commitments that you plan on following through with every single day. Some examples may be sending your partner a text message during your lunch break or calling your partner after you get home from work. You decide the commitments you plan on doing for your partner. Take some time to write down the commitments that you have for your partner and vice versa. Once you’ve finished writing them down, say them out loud to your partner. Once you’ve shared your commitments, make a copy of them and send the original to your partner and have them send their original to you. This way, your partner will have your commitments to them, and you will have their commitments to you. Have these commitments in a place where you see them daily. This will really help in staying connected with your partner.

Precedent #3: Take the time to visit

You may have a busy schedule with work, but when you are committed to developing your relationship, you will take the time to visit your partner. You may have to do some planning around your schedule, but when you make the effort to visit, your partner not only feels important but you are able to physically spend quality time together to develop your connection. And when you do visit your partner, make sure it’s quality time. It’s all about planning. When you visit your partner, spend time focusing on loving them. If you can help it, don’t be on any business phone calls or dealing with work while you’re there. The secret to taking the time to visit your partner is to spend 100% quality time with them.

Take Action:

Take a look at your schedule and plan on visiting your partner. Depending upon the distance, you may have to save up some money before visiting. But when you’re able to plan ahead and save as much money as you need, you’re showing your partner that you care and that you want to develop the relationship. When you continue to make excuses and don’t take the time to visit your partner, that’s a clear indication that you’re not committed to developing your relationship. You may want to add how many times you want to visit in your commitments to your partner.

Precedent #4: Think long-term

This goes back to precedent #1 of being committed. With commitment, you will need to also think long-term. Where do you see this relationship going in the long run? You will need to take some time to reflect on why you’re in this relationship? Some of us end up being in a relationship because we’re lonely or just want to say that we’re with someone. Make sure you are in your relationship for the right reasons.

Take Action:

What does the future look like with your current relationship? Do you see yourself being with this person for the long run? If you’re unsure, why? What are the key issues that need to be discussed with your partner? I want you to take the time to communicate these questions with your partner. Remember how I’ve shared with your the importance of being on the same page? Well, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to long-term commitment. If you or your partner are experiencing certain issues like lack of trust or jealousy, it’s important for you to have an open discussion about these issues. If you feel stuck, I would suggest that the both of you seek counseling. It’s always helpful when you can have a third person who can look at your relationship without any attachments or emotions involved.

Precedent # 5: Be Real

When it comes to surviving a long-distance relationship and growing the connection with your partner, you need to always be real. It’s important to know who you are and express the real essence of you to your partner. We all know that during the beginning stages of dating, we experience that “Cloud Nine” feeling where we see our partner as being perfect. But we all have imperfections and eventually these will come out. There is nothing wrong with having imperfections, we’re only human. Make sure that you share with your partner all aspects of you, not just the good ones. Don’t play any games! This is a big NO-NO when it comes to being in a relationship. Being real and not playing any games will help you and your partner truly get to know each other. How can you possibly get to know your partner when they are playing games and not being their real selves?

Take Action:

Take some time to reflect upon who you are. Are you staying true to yourself? Are you expressing the real you or are you playing games and putting up a façade just so your partner likes you? It’s important for you to ask these questions because this is an important aspect of building the foundation in your relationship.

These are the top precedents that my husband and I set in our relationship from the very beginning and still use today. When you’re able to set good precedents in your relationship, you are building a solid foundation. When you don’t have any precedents in your relationship, the foundation is weak and will fall apart. Surviving a long-distance relationship is all about creating and maintaining a solid foundation!

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Making Long-Distance Relationships Work: How to Stay Connected When Your Love is Far Away

Finding love is tricky. Finding someone to love who lives nearby, or at least in a zip code not too far away, can be a challenge. But a long-distance relationship can present a unique opportunity to get close in other ways.

What if you connect with someone on every level, and you really like them a lot, but they are either moving away, or already live far away from you? What should you do? Keep dating them and get emotionally invested? What if it doesn’t work out? Should you continue seeing them, (gulp) long-distance? How does that even work? Can you get frequent-flyer miles for this sort of thing?

There are no guarantees that any relationship will work out in the long-run, so no one can give you a definite answer on that one. However, if you decide to go forward into a long-distance relationship with someone that you care about, there are certainly a few things you can do, to help your new love be as successful as possible.

Many years ago, back in 1998, to be exact, I was hanging out one night on my computer, in an AOL Music Trivia Chat Room. (they were all the rage back then) A man with the screenname “Wayabovepar” entered, and 5 hours later, we were still typing and chatting into the night.

He lived in Florida. I lived in NYC, and then New Jersey. We had a very happy (although challenging) long-distance relationship for almost 7 years, before he finally packed up his life and moved it to New Jersey, to start a new life with me.

We would marry in 2006, and live happily ever after, for 4 years and 9 months. He died at age 46, very suddenly, from a heart attack, and our time together was over. Would I do it all over again, knowing the ending? Of course. Love is always worth the risk. Every single time.

So, for those of you considering entering into a long-distance relationship, here are some ideas that should help you to navigate through it together, and to make it a successful love story.

Communication is key. You should do your best to start and end the day together.

Since you aren’t able to wake up in each other’s arms each morning, waking up to a good morning text or phone call is the next best thing for long-distance couples.

Know each other’s work schedules, at least generally, so that you can give your partner a nice greeting at the start of each day. “Good morning, sweetheart!”, is a lovely way to put a smile on your face, and begin the day with purpose. .

Create an outline or schedule that works for you both, a far as when you will talk each day. My late husband Don and I used to have a “nightly date” around 9pm each weeknight, where we would sit at our computers and talk on Instant Messenger. Then most nights, we would call each other for the last few minutes, to hear each other’s voices, and to say goodnight.

Set up something similar that works for the two of you, but make sure that communication is happening regularly.

Try to get as creative as possible, to make up for lack of physical time together.

It is really hard to not physically see the person you are in a relationship with, on a regular basis. However, there are several things you can do to help someone feel special, and to make up for the time you can’t be together in the same place.

My partner and I used to make care packages for each other. We would fill them with homemade cookies, goodies, magazine articles we thought the other might like to read, sexy or fun pictures (we didnt have cell phones yet, so we had to get pretty creative), and more.

We also used to make each other “mix tapes”, filled with songs we wanted the other person to hear. I used to mail him a few movies at a time that I owned, and he would watch them, and then give me his review. We would also send cards and love letters, quite often.

We would do these kinds of things spontaneously, in order to keep things fun and romantic, and to let the other person know they were being thought of.

These days, it’s easier than ever to find multiple ways to get creative. Talk to each other on Facetime or Skype. Play a board game or other game together this way. Watch a movie together on your laptops. Eat dinner together, or a nightly cup of coffee to talk about your day.

Make a short video for the other person, where you take them through a favorite neighborhood in your town, or where you just flirt with them for a few minutes and make them feel wanted. This kind of creativity is extremely important when you are miles and miles apart.

Cheerful young woman talking on phone

Have a plan in place for the future, and discuss your expectations.

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many couples go into a long-distance relationship, without talking about their needs and wants for the future. If you are putting your time and energy into this person, you should at least begin discussing what your end goal is.

Will one of you be moving, eventually, to be closer to the other? If so, who? And when? Are you exclusive and committed to each other, even while this far away? How many times per month/year do you expect to see each other? Will you take turns traveling?

These are important things to know, because not everyone is capable of handling the same situation. Our long-distance relationship stretched over 7 years. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t feel comfortable that we had a definite plan for him to relocate to where I lived.

Because he was leaving his life behind to come be with me, his expectation was that it was leading to marriage. He didn’t want to move his entire life somewhere new, unless this was the real thing. Both parties in the relationship need to be on the same page as to where this is going and when, in order for it to work.

Always keep each other in the loop when it comes to big life changes and events.

When you don’t see someone everyday, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks when it comes to information. If you’re having a bad day, or a hard week, or if you had a wonderful thing happen to you at work, or you have to attend a good friend’s funeral – your partner should know about all that.

The thing you want to avoid is your partner not knowing what is going on in your life, and you in theirs. Keep each other informed, and be there for each other, whenever and however you can. When you’re far away, it’s even more important that you feel like the person you are doing all this sacrificing for, has your back.

This is the part where I tell you to have phone sex or cyber sex together.

You knew it was coming.(Get it? “Coming?”) It’s vital that you make priority time for one another, to be intimate in whatever ways you can be together.

There are many ways to do this in today’s modern technology world, so find what works for the two of you, and go for it. Make sexy videos. Plan a hot phone call. Create fantasies together and then bring them to life. Talk about all the naughty things you want to do next time you see each other. You get the idea.

Bottom line: Sex is important, especially when you are in a long-distant relationship.

If visits are an option, do it as much as you can.

People are in long-distance relationships for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes visiting is not an option (such as a partner in active duty military). If you are lucky enough to have the option to make visits to one another, plan them as carefully and as often as you can, and make them a priority.

Each time you see each other again and spend more time together in person, you will discover new parts of this person, and you will learn more about them. This will help you to know what they might be like on a day to day basis, and may help you determine what will eventually come of the relationship.

If it’s with the right person, and you both work at it, long-distance relationships can be very happy and successful. If I hadn’t have been willing all those years ago, to be patient and date this person even though he lived far away, I wouldn’t have met and fell in love with, one of the most beautiful people I have ever known.

Love is always worth the risk. Every single time.

For more ways to make your relationship stronger, check out “Normal” Sex for a Long-Distance Couple5 Ways You Can Make a Long Distance Relationship Work, or Long Distance Relationships: Do They Make the Heart Grow Fonder?.