MSP Question & Answer: Phone Sex and Long Distance Relationships

Hi Dr. Debby, I’d like to know what percentage of men would have/enjoy having phone sex with their partner? I asked my boyfriend (we’re both in our early 20s) if he’d ever had phone sex and he got defensive and said "No, i’m not that desperate." I wanted to try it since I’ve been living half-way around the world for the past three months. I personally don’t think it’s at all desparate, but rather a way for us to be intimate despite the distance. Although after his remark I’m afraid to even bring it up again. The thing is he’s not sexually conservative and so I was a little insulted by his reaction. Thanks Debby! I really hope you’ll shed some light.

Thanks for your question. We dont have exact figures on how many men would enjoy phone sex and really what matters is your relationship - not other men in general. Long distance relationships are challenging, no doubt about it, so good for you two for trying to communicate as best as you possibly can across the miles that are currently separating you too. I wonder if you two share the same meaning for "phone sex" – I wonder if he thought that you were asking if he had ever called a 1-900 phone number for sex, rather than asking him if he had ever had sex with a partner before, while on the phone. And anyway, my guess is that you are less interested in whether he has done it before in the past (does that matter?) and more interested in whether he would be interesting in trying it with you some time.

If you are feeling like you would like to be intimate with him, in spite of the miles, try saying that. Maybe something like "Remember when I asked about whether you had tried phone sex before? I was asking because I miss being sexual with you, now that we’re apart, and I was thinking of ways that we might be able to be sexual while we’re separated, like by having sex on the phone together, or exchanging sexy text messages or IMs, or if there are other ideas you have,,,?" That does two things – it clarifies what you meant by phone sex, and it also lets him know that your ultimate goal is to feel like you can be closer together sexually while you are apart.

If I’ve got him wrongly pegged and he ends up saying things that sound judgmental or hurtful to you (like "I would never do that, that’s desperate!", etc) then try to step back, be gentle with yourself (and with him) and perhaps ask if he really means that. After all, nearly everyone has said something that they didn’t really mean when they were feeling upset or anxious or insecure. If he does, maybe ask him why he feels that way, and try to get him to expand on whatever he says by saying things like "I’m not sure I understand. Can you say a little more about that?" or "So are you saying that… (and then try to paraphrase what you heard)". It may be that he is dealing with his own issues of shame, guilt or discomfort around sex – which are not "about" you, but may have the effect of hurting you or being difficult to understand. I hope this helps. Take care. 

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at