How to: Have Webcam Sex

In last week’s post, How to have cybersex, I talked about how to use the wonders of the Internet to share intimacy with your partner over a text-based instant messaging system. This week continues the general theme with an introduction to having Webcam sex.

FIRST, THE TECHNICAL STUFF

Of course, the first thing you’ll need is a Webcam. Most modern laptops come equipped with Webcams from the get-go; desktops often do not. You can find cheap USB cameras for as little as $30 in computer stores, with the more popular models typically weighing in at around $100 or so. Most also have built-in microphones as well.

Almost any USB Webcam will work fine. Higher-end Webcams offer better low-light sensitivity, noise-canceling microphones, autofocus lenses, and the like, though you don’t actually need any of these features to have good cam sex. What you will want is a good frame rate (look for 30 frames per second) and a camera that says it’s USB 2.0 (older USB 1 cameras typically offer highly compressed, pixelated images and poor motion).

SECOND, THE SOFTWARE AND IM SERVICE

Once you have a Webcam, you need software. There are several options available for Webcam chatting, with different Internet requirements and different levels of difficulty in setting up. I’ve found the most popular free Webcam chat services that work with both Macs and PCs, in order of ease of setup, to be Yahoo IM, Skype, and AOL IM.

Yahoo IM doesn’t require any setup at all. If you have a Yahoo IM chat ID, you’re set. It works over slow Internet connections and there’s no configuration.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the image you see is tiny, jerky, and poor quality.

Skype requires you to download the Skype program onto your computer. If you choose to use it only for Internet chat sessions and don’t need it to work like a telephone, it’s free. It’s also relatively easy to set up and it doesn’t require much configuration, and it gives you nice full-screen video.

When it works, anyway. I’ve had problems where some Webcams, including the built-in Mac Webcam, tend to go black after exactly two minutes of use. This is apparently a known and documented bug in some versions of the Skype software. It’s also really annoying.

AOL IM allows lovely full-motion, full-screen, high-quality video, and it works with the iChat software built into the Mac. Windows users need to download the free AIM client software.

The disadvantage is that if you have a home router, it can require some tinkering with your router’s settings to make video work.

THIRD, THE LOCATION

Assuming you’ve got the technical end licked and you and your partner can video chat to your heart’s content, the next big thing is location, location, location. Well, location and also lighting, but mostly location.

Lighting and location are linked, of course. You want to choose a comfortable place free of distracting clutter and with good, even lighting. Avoid light behind you; that tends to turn you into a silhouette. Lighting that’s at face level is more flattering than lighting directly above your head. Many Webcams don’t have good low-light performance, so if there’s not enough light the image will look grainy and fuzzy.

A lot of folks like to set up on a bed, which can be a little tricky if you’re using a laptop with a built-in Webcam. small table or desk at the foot of the bed can make for a good place to set your camera or computer. I personally find that it’s easier to sit than lie down, but whatever you want to try is fine. Remember that the image recorded by your Webcam might be fairly small, so closer to the camera is better.

GETTING IT ON

Cam sex is a bit like cyber sex, a bit like sharing the secret room, a bit like negotiating sex, and a bit like having in-person sex. A lot of the same little wobbles and fears that apply to letting someone watch you masturbate or to having cybersex apply; “What if I don’t know what to do?” “What if I can’t think of anything that’s exciting?” “What if I feel awkward letting someone watch me?”

It’s helpful to remember that it’s about sharing intimacy with your partner, not winning an Academy Award. Theatrics aren’t what makes cam sex good; good cam sex is about good interaction. It’s OK to feel nervous if you’ve never done it before, and it’s OK to say “Wow, I’ve never done this before, so I’m feeling a little nervous!”.

And you don’t need to jump straight into taking your clothes off. Sometimes, a bit of tease goes a long way. If you want to start slow, start slow!

SCENARIOS

If you don’t have any specific ideas about what to do, a few scenarios might help you to get going.

Show Me What You Want
One fun, easy way to get started is to talk to your partner about how you like to be touched. Describe where you like to feel hands on your body, and how hard, and then demonstrate by moving your own hands over yourself. Again, you ned not necessarily dive straight into getting naked–there’s a lot of foreplay that can happen with your clothes on!

As with cybersex, the key to cam sex is to keep it authentic. Talk about how you feel. Show your partner how your body is responding. Talk about how you would like your partner to touch you. Describe what you would like your partner to do, and how it would make you feel.

Keep it interactive, too. Ask your partner how he or she feels, and what he or she might like to do. Have your partner show you the ways he or she would like to be touched.

Playing Director
Another fun Webcam scenario is to tell your partner what to do, or have your partner tell you what to do. There is something that’s really, really exciting, I think, about describing what I would like to watch my partner do to herself, and then seeing her do it. And, on the flip side, when a partner describes to me what she would like to see me do, it can really help me to learn what turns her on!

The fun in this isn’t just in taking control (though that is a lot of fun, no doubt about it); it’s also in using it to explore how you and your partner react. Pay close attention, if you’re telling your partner what to do, to your partner’s reactions. You can tease your partner by drawing out the experience; tell your partner to get really close to the edge of orgasm and then stop, for example, to bring out a heightened sense of arousal and to tease him or her. You can do this for an extended time, having your partner tease himself or herself multiple times, then switch roles and have your partner tell you what to do to tease yourself.

By watching your partner’s responses closely as you instruct him or her, you can sometimes learn quite a bit about the way your partner likes to be touched. I’ve even found a few things that some of my partners didn’t know, by telling them to touch themselves in ways that they normally don’t do; when we pleasure ourselves, it can be easy to get into a rut, because we know what works most efficiently. Touching ourselves in different ways can sometimes be a neat avenue to learning new things about our bodies.

Question and Answer
One fun game I played with an online lover a long time ago involved asking each other questions about ourselves, to see how well we knew each other. We took turns asking questions like “What is my favorite color?” and “What kinds of movies do I like?” If one of us got the answer right, we would get a reward by watching the other of us do something sexy; a wrong answer would mean some kind of penalty, such as “Nope! Now you have to put a clothespin on your nipple” or “Nope! Now you have to pinch yourself.” It was a fun, sexy way to explore how well we each knew each other.

Roleplay
Some folks like to introduce an element of role-playing into their Webcam sex, by dressing up in costumes (cheerleader and Catholic schoolgirl are popular choices) and acting out a fantasy scenario. Just about any role-play scenario can be adapted to cam sex; again, the key to making it fun is to be authentic about your responses and talk about how it makes you feel, even if the scenario itself is fiction.

Sharing Fantasies
It can be a lot of fun to use Webcam sex to talk about fantasies that you normally don’t feel comfortable sharing with your partner. For some people, chat or Webcam can offer enough space that it’s more comfortable to talk about things that are hard to talk about in person.

Run your hands over your body. Describe to your partner what you’re fantasizing about and how the fantasy turns you on. Use the Webcam to show your partner how turned on you are, as you talk about your fantasy. Invite your partner into the fantasy by describing how you would like him or her to participate.

Remember that fantasies aren’t necessarily about things that we would really like to do in real life, and that offering your partner a safe space to talk about fantasies with you is an important part of sharing and intimacy. We all carry around fantasies that other people would find surprising or even shocking; creating a safe space to describe them, without judgment or negative reaction, builds trust and intimacy, and can be surprisingly sexy.

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