Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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The Independent Online

To my surprise, my long-distance romance with my ex-boyfriend's son Alasdair has become more than some sort of weird Freudian flirtation. We're actually planning to see each other again in a few weeks' time – but until then, the waiting has been difficult and phone sex isn't really doing the trick.

But one night this week, after an intense session of erotic chat, I decided that we needed to find another solution to bridge the gap between visits.

Meanwhile, I keep reading about how, by the year 2050, we're all going to be having sex with robots. I'm not convinced by the idea of hooking up with a cyborg just yet, but I am intrigued by the low-tech version of cybersex, very unromantically referred to as "teledildonics". My flirtation with Alasdair provided the perfect opportunity to try the technology out, and he readily agreed.

After researching our options, I ordered the Sinulator – a device that lets you connect a sex toy to your computer so other people can control it over the internet – and a pink Rabbit Pearl vibrator.

As I'm not the most technologically advanced person, hooking everything up was daunting. The eight-hour time difference proved tricky; I bided my time until my flatmate was out, slipped into something sexy, lowered the blinds and waited for Alasdair's call.

Now all I needed was my trusty laptop, a glass of wine, a few candles and my new toy. We also opted to use a webcam, so I had to look the part; I couldn't really do the whole "I'm stripped down to my black lace corset and thong" bit while in a blue face-mask and tracksuit bottoms.

There is a male version of the vibrator that looks a bit like a sleeve, but Alasdair decided that a virtual vagina was too creepy. He opted to rely on some hot visuals and let his fingers do the walking. After downloading the application and a bit of messing about with my USB port, we were good to go, and started talking dirty.

It was much better than chat rooms; it was real, live two-way sex, with someone I'm greatly attracted to, streaming into my living room. Watching him play with himself was hugely erotic, and as things got more heated he used the remote control to change the settings on the vibrator and pushed the Jackhammer button. The only drawback was that the intensity level may have been a bit much for me – our session was over before we'd really begun.

It wasn't the same as being together, but it was definitely intimate. I can see the advantage for couples in long-distance relationships. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it's a strain on the organs further south.

We're planning our next visit. But, in the meantime, I'm happy with our afternoon delights. Working on the computer has never been so much fun.