How has lockdown changed our attitude towards sex and relationships?
No two people in the same situation will react in the same way. For some, lockdown will have reinforced their need for intimacy and strengthened their relationship, whereas, for others, it has reduced their sexual desires.
In a situation of continued stress and unease, sex and intimacy are often the last things on our mind. With bigger worries to contend with, it’s understandable how this aspect of our life can take a backseat, and often unintentionally.
With worries around job stability, finances and questions over when we can see family, friends and, in some cases, partners within close proximity, thinking about the last time you had sex or experiencing those feelings of desire do not feel like a priority.
For the couples lucky enough to be spending lockdown together, being in close proximity with your significant other 24/7 can no doubt cause strain on your relationship, with a resulting impact on libido.
However, for most couples, lockdown will and has highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship. What was once seen as an endearing characteristic of a partner, can easily become an annoyance when forced into one another’s pockets.
It is also easy to see where there is a mismatch in priorities. What is important to you and how you react to stress and anxiety can be vastly different to your partner, and therefore, can be a source of considerable conflict.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with not having sex, forgoing a moment of ‘self-love’ or experiencing reduced arousal, but it is important to recognise and acknowledge whether a decline in sexual activity forms part of a bigger problem within your relationship.
Most couples will naturally work their way out of their ‘dry-spell’ and fall back between the bedsheets, but it’s good to be open and communicate with your partner about how you are feeling. Especially if you’re both on different pages when it comes to your sexual appetites.
Evaluate why you are experiencing a decline in your sex drive and discuss that with your partner so they understand; ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Why not try introducing something new into your routines, such as a toy, couples’ porn, or even audio erotica. These are all ways to excite our senses and address a flagging sex drive.
Alternatively, although the idea sounds somewhat unsexy, scheduling time for sex can be perfect for making sure you’re carving out time for each other. Set a date and in the run-up to the day, why not tell each other what you’re looking forward to and tease each other, so when the moment comes, you both feel comfortable and ready to engage with pleasuring each other.
If the problem is much bigger than what’s happening (or not) in the bedroom, then use this time together, to be honest with one another and try and resolve these issues. Tell your partner how you feel and what you think needs to change but remember to take on board their feedback. It’s a difficult conversation to have, so make sure you choose a time where you’re both present and not distracted by work, children or phones.
There is nothing wrong with not having sex, but it is important to recognise and acknowledge whether a decline in sexual activity forms part of a bigger problem within your relationship.
For many others, increased stress, anxiety and worry lead to the opposite reaction. Rather than reducing our sexual cravings, others are looking to a moment of pleasure as a way to unwind, release unwanted tension and reduce stress.
We know that in unwelcome situations, the familiarity of closeness and affection can provide much-needed comfort. Sex and ‘self-love’ are a bonding experience for many and without the distractions of work and going out, couples now have time to really focus on each other and learn about their relationship.
Although sex can often be thought of as a moment of frivolity, sexual satisfaction plays a great role in our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Welcome physical contact causes our bodies to secrete hormones which enhance feelings of contentment, something that is more important now in the current climate than before. Sex and masturbation are proven methods of increasing our levels of happiness, and orgasms release feel-good endorphins resulting in a feeling of positivity.
This not only helps us feel more connected to our partner but also to ourselves through an understanding of what we like and how we like to be pleasured. Plus, having sex, or participating in a moment of sexual activity can be a great form of distraction, or escape from feelings of worry and stress.
Therefore, a lot of people – whether you be single, in lockdown as a couple, or spending it separated from your partner – are finding solace in these moments of affection and self-love.
Couples with an already active sex-life will have no doubt relished lockdown as a way to feel even closer to one another, while those either living apart from their partner or who may be single, are finding new ways to be intimate.
There are many ways to have sex which don’t include being physical with another person. Whether that be mutual masturbation, phone sex, indulging in a spot of pillow talk, or even treating yourself to self-love with a sex toy, such as the Womanizer Premium.
We know that we’re much more adventurous now when it comes to sex and intimacy than in previous years, and we’re more open to trying new things. This means the idea of introducing a toy into our routine is not as unusual as it once was. After all, masturbation is the safest form of sex.
If you are struggling with your relationship during lockdown, remember that you’re not alone. Try and schedule a time for one another where you can. If you’re currently away from your partner, a simple gesture such as a good morning text message can go a long way in keeping the romance alive.
Whereas, once the lights go out, telling each other your fantasies and sexual desires is a great way to find out what you both like and how to satisfy each other when you’re able to reunite.
Sex can be a wonderful release and going without for a sustained period of time impacts us greatly, that’s why we should pay attention to our sexual needs and desires.
What works for you and your relationship might not work for others and that’s OK. We all have different requirements when it comes to intimacy, and acknowledging what they are is an important first step in leading a happy and healthy sex life, whether you’re in a relationship, or single.
Read Johanna’s earlier article, How to have a happy healthy sex life in isolation. Visit Happiful for more information, including 10 ways to transform your sex life and read your common sex questions answered, by sex and relationship therapist, Lohani Noor.
If you’d like to explore relationship counselling, know that you don’t need to be experiencing issues in your relationship to want a little support. There are many benefits to couples therapy, including improving intimacy and communication.