Virtual Reality and Sexual Wellness
The contemporary understanding of sexual health and wellness has little to do with the tonics and nerve remedies of yesteryear, nor the confining ideas of propriety and politeness. Encouraged more than ever to live a life of fulfillment, joy and love, those living in free societies are exploring much more than just the gender of their potential partners. Technology provides a path to that exploration and opens myriad avenues to venture down. Of all emerging technologies, it’s virtual and augmented reality that offers the most exciting way to explore such personal realms.
Being separated by COVID lockdowns and quarantine may be new for most couples and daters but for many involved in long-distance relationships, it was business (more or less) as usual. Finding ways to cope without physical intimacy can be trying and may test the mettle of many relationships. VR porn provides plenty of opportunities for (mostly solo) enjoyment but for couples the answer can be more elusive. The advent of video conferencing did much to address intimate communication needs but it wasn’t until web-connected, smart teledildonic devices arrived that geographically distant couples could regain something closer to being in each other’s physical presence. Now, stimulating each other’s genitals via smart-sex-toys may not sound as romantic as waking up together in a tangle of limbs but it can and has given relationships a physical option when no other was available. Maintaining a physicality to any intimate partner relationship – a physicality tailored to each partner’s needs and desires – isn’t everything but it is vital to most.
Not everything in a relationship need be about sex, of course, and VR provides plentiful opportunities to enhance communication, mutual experience, and shared interests like few other technologies. Whether in gaming, the modern workplace, streaming entertainment, live performance, or direct communication, VR is playing a greater role than ever before.
Discovering Your Desires
Naturally this new degree of access and openness extends into areas of human sexuality less focused on physical gratification and more so on self-realization. Although social biases against LGBTQIA+ people are gradually eroding, coming out is still a trial and ordeal for millions. Trying to understand one’s own sexuality can be a tricky process involving some trial and error. VR allows a user to experience life as another. In fact, when free to create their own VR avatars, many users deviate from realism like it’s some kind of global contagion. Furry animal ears, exaggerated body types, gigantism and miniaturism, cybernetic limbs or implants, and trans-forms of all kinds can become the front-facing image users put into their VR communities and environments. Some users may not be so fantastical and simply give themselves different hair, skin, or eye color. Does this mean we can fundamentally alter who we are just by fashioning a fantastic appearance? No, but the feedback loop exists to amplify and clarify our true selves, giving us psychological affirmation of that true self’s validity.
The Direct Experience
Loneliness: a condition of living in the modern world, a symptom of depression, the result of anti-social behavior or a troublesome personality, or something else entirely? However you classify this universal emotion, and no matter how you try to deal with it, loneliness seems almost insurmountable even amidst such astounding connectivity.
Loneliness and isolation is something VR is uniquely built to tackle. Bringing disparate people together whether for commercial or creative endeavors, discussion, or pure sexual thrills was not exactly a problem – we had telephones, faxes, and email after all – but it lacked a certain vitality and effervescence that made it anywhere near as satisfying as in-person interaction. Now, as the converging technologies of VR, AR, and AI grow, moving into more of the town squares and living rooms of the world, the degree to which they will not only be aiding our sexual and emotional health but expanding the possibilities of just how contented we can be with ourselves.
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