Long-distance couples can stay connected through technology
BY CHELSEA MENDES
It was almost midnight and they hadn’t even started their homework. Iain Moggach had to practice his lines for tomorrow’s theatre class and Marissa Caldwell still had two chapters to read for law class.
They’d meant to do the work while they chatted but that’s hard to do when they are in two different cities and their connecting through their computers.
Iain was living in Toronto and Marissa was living in Ottawa. They both met in Ottawa three years ago when they started their long-distance relationship.
He had been accepted at George Brown College in Toronto and Marissa went to OttawaU.
“I think we owe our relationship to Skype,” says Marissa, “because there is just such a big difference when you are able to look in someone’s face while you are talking to them. It brings them that much closer.”
When they were apart, a before bed Skype call was routine.
“There is still a computer screen in between you, but you can pretend more efficiently that they are in the room with you” (on skype) she says.
According to statistics Canada, 7% of Canadians over the age of 20 were involved in a long-distance relationship and nearly one in three individuals aged 20 to 24. The 2016 study monitored the amount of interaction between long distance couples (whether it was face-to-face, or via phone call/face time) and the study concluded that couples who spend majority of their time at a long-distance had fewer, but longer and more intimate interactions. One of the ways couples are now able to stay more intimate despite being miles apart, is through innovative technology.
Karey Rodé former manager of an adult entertainment store called Forbidden Pleasures was a truck driver when her trucker boyfriend introduced her to her first adult toy.
When she started working at Forbidden Pleasures in 1999, Rodé said long distance couples would keep the intimacy alive by packaging a product and sending it off to wherever their partner was as another way to keep the intimacy alive.
Rodé says couples can still be interactive with generic toys through Face-time or Skype, and don’t need futuristic toys with WI-FI/Bluetooth features to stay connected.
Iain and Marissa are now happily together, but they’ve started researching emerging technology for long distance couples they wish they’d had access to.
“We weren’t phone sex people, we didn’t do much of that,” says Iain.
“We just happen to live in a time, where you press a section of a screen and a light comes on and you’re talking to someone through the power of the internet… you know it’s kind of crazy.”
Dan Liu, the founder of a sex toy company called Lovense, was inspired to create a “smart” vibrator when he was in a long-distance relationship in 2009. At the time, Liu was in China, while his girlfriend was in the United Kingdom.
“(Lovense) was more of a hobby (for Liu) at that point,” said Lovense marketing manager, Eddy Olivares.
According to Lovense’s website, Liu started experimenting with long distance sex toys in 2010 and even though he was selling a product. Olivares says that Lovense did not become a full-blown company until 2013.
“The majority of feedback is great. Long distance couples love the intimacy our products allow them. They are used to having Skype sex or dirty texting – our products allow them to be much more intimate,” said Olivares.
Lovense creates interactive products that are connected to one another, so when one moves to their toy their partner’s toy moves along with their actions. This long-distance feature allows couples to feel intimate while apart.
Right now, Lovense sells four toys on the website, with more under development.
Their toys include Nora, a vibrator that connects to Max, a sex toy designed for male pleasure. Max can sync to Nora and move together along to the toy’s actions. Lush is a wearable vibrator that can be used in the bedroom or for discreet public play. Hush is a butt plug that like Lush can be used for foreplay and in public.
Each toy has the ability to be controlled by their app via Internet, which is available on both apple and android products or a PC/Mac software. The app also allows your partner to take control of your toy without being in the same room. The partner can also control the music you listen to while you play with your toy. Every toy the release in the future will have a long-distance control feature, Olivares says.
The toys can also vibrate to the beat of the music you play and are waterproof. Each of the toys are able to be charged via USB and have a battery life that lasts up to 2 hours.
Christopher Cragg originally from England, met Fred on a beach in Toronto on June 2014.
“After 18 months apart, 3580 miles’ distance, a five-hour time difference, pages and pages of forms to fill in and so many arguments and stress pimples and grey hairs, ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Moved to Toronto!”— a post Cragg made on his Tumblr page, blibblobblib.tumblr.com, about moving to be with his now husband, Fred Chi.
They briefly chatted on a gay dating app called SCRUFF before deciding it was time for them to meet.
“I mentioned I was heading to the beach, and he changed his plans to come and find me,” says Cragg.
They chatted and agreed to have a date two days later.
“We met at my apartment for sex and that’s how our relationship started,” said Cragg,
It was incredibly difficult to be happy in our relationship when we were apart, said Cragg. “We tried everything.”
From sexually charged text messages to picture messages, the exchange helped both partners when they were apart.
Cragg said that they would even get off together on camera during their nightly Face-time chats.
“Send photos, either G-rated or nude. Make each other feel like you want to see each other’s body and face. And transparency over everything helps as well.”
For Marissa and Iain it was more the simple things.
Iain marvels at a small innovation: by tapping and holding two fingers on the digital screen you can create a heartbeat to send on any Apple product through the messenger app.
“It just sends a little heart… where it’s like ‘I’m thinking of you’ but you don’t actually have to write out the text,” says Marissa.
They are now coming towards their fifth year of dating and say that they are an example on how long distance relationships can work.
“There are some people who have their entire relationships online,” says Marissa
“Looking back, I think that we were kind of crazy,” adds Iian, “but you know when you’re crazy in love it helps.”