May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.
After many pandemic months of not dating or even meeting people in real life, I missed specific aspects of other humans: banter, shared interests, touch.
I also missed voices. Excited, hushed, sleepy, heavy — I yearned for it all.
Judging by the explosion of audio app and its subsequent , Twitter’s ‘Spaces’ copycat, and even a rumored Reddit contender, I’m not the only one. Even before the pandemic, audio was booming in , and with the it seems that’s only going to go up from here.
It’s not just strangers’ voices we’re craving in our ears; it’s each others’ too. Last year, my Mashable colleague Nicole Gallucci waxed poetic on the wonders of — and others’ love of doing so as well. She wrote, “Audio messages are great time savers, and they’re also a perfect way to show someone that you feel extra comfortable expressing yourself to them.”
Voice notes aren’t just for platonic relationships, though. Voice notes can be sexy, or downright dirty, a simple yet unique alternative to sexting.
Voices are inherently sexy, which may be why just like podcasts. Caroline Spiegel, founder of the user-generated audio porn site , discovered the medium when recovering from an eating disorder. Video porn was unappealing, but audio left room for fantasy.
“Audio notes can often be more intimate and hot than a nude,” Spiegel said in a comment to Mashable about voice notes specifically.
Voice is an integral part of our identity and reveals much more than the literal words we speak. As speech scientist told NPR in 2019, voice signals our age, gender, and other aspects of personality. Think accents, tone, volume. Even if you can only hear someone’s voice, you can tell a lot about who they are.
Courtney Kocak, podcast producer and co-host of comedy-sex-travel podcast , reiterated the intimacy of audio. She told Mashable, “You get to know someone’s interior world so much through their voice.”
Like Spiegel, Kocak also sees the value of audio porn versus visual. Sometimes when she masturbates, traditional porn is too much; she doesn’t need the visual stimulation. “I like to build the fantasy in my mind, and audio erotica or sexy voice notes or anything in that vein is allowing you to do that,” she said. From someone’s cues, tone, pauses, breath, you can create a world from what’s essentially an mp3.
Voice notes vs. phone sex vs. nudes
You might be asking yourself: If I’m just using my voice, why not just have phone sex? Well, you certainly can. Lewd voice notes, however, are more akin to sexting than chatting on the phone, and they have advantages that a call doesn’t.
“You get to know someone’s interior world so much through their voice.”
“You have the time to curate or wait until you’re in the right mood,” said Kocak. For someone who may not be comfortable jumping into phone sex, voice notes can be a toe-dip.
“I understood and I respected why they needed that communication style, but it still irked me because [calls are] my preference,” said North. “The way we got around that is through voice notes.”
Julia, a writer living in New York City, is in a long-distance relationship with their partner in Los Angeles. FaceTime feels like a chore — especially during a pandemic, when FaceTime has practically taken over — so on top of photos or videos, they send each other voice notes.
“Hearing someone’s voice is just really lovely,” Julia said. “You take it for granted in your everyday life.”
North agreed with Kocak: You have more control with a voice note than phone sex. They’re a stepping stone for those who may have trepidations about diving into those live interactions.
Voice notes also sprinkle in a different flavor of sexy than a nude photo. Even though you can literally bare all in the latter, Spiegel explained the contrast as follows: “A nude is sort of less personal and less vulnerable. An audio note is about telling someone how hot they are, showing that you desire them, and making them feel wanted.”
Let’s be real, here: We’ve all recycled nudes. (Okay, fine, I’ll only speak for myself — though I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The iPhone’s hidden photo folder exists for a reason!) But the likelihood of recycling a voice note is much lower.
With a nude, there’s no communication beyond the connotations of sending it itself. Voice notes, however, are all communication. “Sending a voice note is really about communicating how much you are into the other person,” said Spiegel.
She continued, “Women in particular are turned on by being ‘an object of desire,’ and might be more responsive to a passionate audio note than a dick pic.”
Tips on sending sexy voice notes
Gallucci explained in her piece for the uninitiated — and also addressed the problems with accessibility. If you or your partner is deaf or hard of hearing, this probably isn’t the best flirty messaging venue for you. Apple provides a , but even if you don’t have iMessage, you can and other platforms.
First and foremost, get consent from your partner especially if you haven’t sent a sexy voice note to them before.
You can be coy as well as courteous with a written message that accompanies the note if you’re not sure if they’re in a place where they can listen right away. A simple “NSFW, btw” would work wonders, but do what fits you.
Just as you definitely don’t have to send the first nude photo you take during a session, you also don’t have to send the voice note you record. You can edit yourself, said Kocak, or re-record if you’re not into the first go. Take your time. Recognize that it can be awkward at first, but you can get into a groove. “Leave your insecurity at the record button and just dive in,” Kocak advised.
In her professional life, North has dabbled in audio erotica, such as producing one while smoking cannabis and capturing ASMR-like sounds like crinkling of rolling papers and inhales. It’s unique — in my experience as an audio erotica listener, I haven’t heard one similar to that — and that’s one piece of advice North has for sexy voice notes.
“You don’t have to do what you think has already been done,” said North. Voice notes, just like dirty talk in general, don’t need to be performative. You don’t need to mimic what you’ve heard from porn performers or characters in films.
All this is to say: Be yourself when recording a voice note, just as you are yourself in the bedroom. Both of those tasks, though, can be easier said than done. It’s normal to feel self-conscious when it comes to sex; it requires vulnerability in both the physical and emotional sense. When you’re with someone in person, they see your literal naked self.
Vulnerability is still there when you hit the microphone icon on your phone — even if your partner isn’t literally seeing you. When recording a sexy voice note, you’re letting your partner in on your desires. You’re literally speaking them aloud, which can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before.
North encourages those who are self-conscious to not let it get in the way of enjoying themselves. Whomever your partner is has already agreed to be there, to receive this voice note. You can let yourself shine through because that’s exactly who your partner wants.
Voice notes can even be foreplay, said North, even if you’re not directly meeting them for sex. It also doesn’t have to be obscene in content to be sexy. It can set the stage for the next time you see them, or gives them a tease. You can wake them up with a throaty good morning voice note instead of a sexy photo, or send them a good night message.
“Have your voice be the last thing they hear before they go to bed.”
“Have your voice be the last thing they hear before they go to bed,” North suggested.
If you cringe at a voice recording of yourself, don’t worry. For one, . For another, your partner already knows what you sound like and it hasn’t deterred them. “People like the sound of your voice. That’s why they’re with you, around you, want to connect with you,” said North.
If you really can’t stand to have your voice played back to you, just record the message and send it without listening back. And should you send a voice note to a new online-only partner who’s never heard it before and they respond negatively, well — that’s on them, and now they won’t hear your future lustful notes.
Further, don’t underestimate moans or sighs that come with sex. “Hearing the sounds that the other person makes can be very sexy,” Julia said. While she and her partner do this through sending videos of one another masturbating, you can also do this via voice note (especially if you don’t feel like filming yourself).
The bottom line is, voices are sexy; even if you don’t think yours is, the recipient of your sexy voice note likely does. If you’re not ready or plain not in the mood for phone sex or video, voice notes are a unique and fun way to sext.