Quarantine has done a lot in the way of ruining lives. In addition to death and illness and loss of work and the production of new seasons of our favorite shows being put on hold and canceled weddings, it turns out, coronavirus is taking yet another perk of being human hostage: our sex lives. But don’t just take my word for it: The Knot teamed up with Lasting (a marital app owned by The Knot Worldwide) to pull together a State of Relationships Report. This covers everything from marriage and engagement fulfillment, what people are fighting about, what people are doing to grow their relationships, and so on. There’s a lot to take in from the April 2020 report, but what really stood out to me (and my vagina) were the sex stats. Basically? It seems a global pandemic is one hell of a turn-off.
So, Lasting is like a therapy app for couples. It’s used as a tool for mental health pros and everyday couples to build and sustain healthy relationships. In light of everything going on, they took a look at their onboarding findings as well as the results of an email questionnaire sent out by The Knot. Over a thousand couples’ data was crunched, and it turns out, this is a very weird time for relationships. Who would have guessed? According to the research, only 18% of couples are satisfied with their relationship communication and couples are 35% less likely to discuss conflicting issues in healthy ways than they were before. But wait! It gets worse!
As you can imagine, more and more couples are staying home and seeing each other more often. This means being exposed to things like their partner’s weird work and snacking quirks, as well as just having to see their face ALL THE TIME. Close to half of the population is now spending 20+ more hours with their SO due to social distancing. Turns out, additional time together doesn’t make for happier marriages. In fact, slight conflicts are getting a lot more attention. 29% of married couples have seen their relationships weaken since the start of COVID-19, and 4 out of 10 couples say they’re fighting with their partners now more than ever. Uh-oh.
The most common thing they’re fighting about? You betcha—it’s sex! More specifically: how often they’re having sex.
With additional financial stress, the lack of outside stimulus and excitement, plus a general sense of uncertainty and distress, it makes sense that people might be feeling less horny. Everyday stress causes low libido, so with a literal global pandemic, not feeling up to getting naked and banging checks out. Basically what happens when you’re stressed is your body goes into fight or flight mode. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate increases, and non-essential functions, like sex drive, are diminished. According to Verywell Mind (and like, Biology 1o1), “This response also triggers the release of hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which in high levels can cause decreased sex drive … your interest in sex.”
Back in 2018, roughly 18% of the population had an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That was before people weren’t able to leave their homes, visit loved ones, and were in constant fear of spreading or catching a deadly virus. I may not be a scientist, but me thinks these rates have gone up (and according to Harvard, I’m like, so smart. Turns out, mental illness is on a rise).
For folks who already had depression or an anxiety disorder, this time is full of triggers you might not even realize. The odds of not wanting sex, being distracted during sex, and having a lower libido (which is a common trait of anxiety and depression) is frustrating yet painfully understandable.
How To Fix This
Time and time again, it’s been reported that having sex once a week is the key to relationship bliss. In addition to it connecting a couple, orgasming literally has tons of health benefits like relieving stress, boosting your brain, and helping you sleep. Plus, it feels fan-f*cking-tastic. With people literally dying, however, getting naked and rolling around might feel weird, if not completely undesirable.
If your sex life sucks because of coronavirus, don’t beat yourself up. In addition to reaching out to a mental health professional (lots of whom are virtual now and can help in regards to anxiety and depression), here are a few things to consider if you feel the need to spice up your coronavirus sex life.
Utilize apps: In response to all the hellish ish going on in the world, Lasting is giving five free sessions away to couples. You’re already on your phone, so you might as well use it to strengthen your relationship. In addition to Lasting, Love Nudge, Kindu, Pillow, and UnderCovers are all high-rated and easy-to-use apps for working on your sex life and your general bond.
Date nights: Making sure you’re keeping the fun in your connection alive is vital to both not wanting to kill each other and to also having a sex life. Plan a date that doesn’t involve Netflix—whether it’s a themed dinner and drinks, a college throwback with body shots and Ke$ha jams, or just some beers and a puzzle—to help you feel connected. No, it’s not sex, but if you’re not having fun with your clothes on, it makes sense why you’re not with your clothes off.
Masturbate more: According to sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, PhD, “Masturbation can actually help keep your sexual pilot light on.” In addition to just making you feel good, it can actually increase your sex drive, This could, in turn, help you get into the mood more often, especially during times of stress. You know, like, when the world feels like it’s ending or something.
Prioritize sex: While it might seem unsexy to schedule sex, according to Psychology Today, it’s actually great for getting out of droughts. It gives each partner time to prepare, removes additional “spontaneous” stress, and allows space for communication and negotiation.
Compromise and communicate: Maybe the thought of getting it in just sounds like a lot right now. Whatever your feelings around the subject, they’re valid. But unless you clue your partner into what’s going on, the frustration (and potentially, the fights) could grow. Tell them what you are and aren’t up to doing during these stressful times and find a compromise that makes you both feel respected, supported, and satisfied. Whether it’s scheduling sex, settling for mutual masturbation, or finding a different solution, the only wrong answer is not talking about it.
Cut yourself some slack: Ultimately, this is an unprecedented time, and there’s no “right” way to feel or react. Instead of shaming yourself for not wanting sex, cut yourself some slack. The more pressure you put on the situation, the less likely you’ll want to actually start bumping uglies. Instead, concentrate on taking care of yourself, connecting with your partner, and just feeling good about getting through the day.
While “Sex in the Time of Coronavirus” might seem like the title to a steamy, forbidden romance novel, in reality, it’s actually a lot less hot than that. Go with the flow, take care of you, and remind your clitoris (and your partner) you love it, no matter how much time has passed.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (3)
Okay fam, this was a traumatizing fun one. I polled every straight man I could find for this article on guys’ biggest turn-offs, which nearly cost me both my job and my relationship. (Pro tip: Don’t ask your boyfriend this type of question unless you enjoy picturing them with other women. I, as it turns out, do not. Live and learn.) Because guys can sometimes miss the nuance in certain questions, I got a lot of useless answers like “throwing up” or “peeing,” which I’ve chosen to exclude. I trust my v sophisticated readers to understand that bodily fluids intended for the toilet are a turn-off in bed, unless you are expressly into that. Instead, I’ve listed the five stories below that made me go “oh shit, have I done that??” Read on, and sorry in advance.*
*Disclaimer: Sexual preferences are obviously different for everybody; what you read here does not necessarily apply to your situation. (But like, it probably does.) Also, names have been changed to protect the perverts I polled innocent men volunteering their stories.
1. Acting Like A Porn Star
One guy we’ll call Jason, 25, shared this story. During sex (which was otherwise fine/good), the woman was working overtime to make it clear she was enjoying herself. Like, violently extended eye contact, over-the-top moaning, frequent references to his dick and its capabilities. To top this all off, they finish up and she has cum sticking to her body—which she then proceeds to WIPE OFF WITH HER FINGER AND EAT. At this point, Jason “nearly vomited”. While I’m hoping I don’t have any cum snackers in the audience, there’s a larger lesson here. Being enthusiastic/into it? Good. Emulating a porn star to the point where you put yourself on a dick-and-semen-only diet, just because you think the guy’s into it? BAD. Again, if you enjoy the taste of semen, go crazy: it may help you live longer. But remember that what guys watch doesn’t always line up with what they actually want. And for god’s sake, remember that you also have wants that should be filled. Specifically, wants that don’t involve eating cum.
2. Letting Your Pet Watch
Ok yeah, this one isn’t all that mindblowing. But a surprising number of guys either referenced this or vehemently agreed when I mentioned it as an example. So I figured I’d include it. While owning a dog is an excellent life move, both for your Hinge profile pictures and general well-being, your precious pup does not have a place in the bedroom. (Don’t even get me started on cats. Though TBH if someone came over knowing there was a cat there, who knows what they’re into.) For reasons I still can’t quite figure out, 7/10 dudes have a traumatizing experience of being mid-sex, looking up, and locking eyes with your four-legged friend. Ladies. LADIES. What are we doing?? How do 7/10 of us not know this is not acceptable? I’ll take this time to quote Panic! At The Disco, and chime in with a “haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door”??
Please do not let your pet stay in the room while you have sex, or I will be forced to call the authorities.
3. Not Cleaning Up Down There
I’m just going to paste the texts I got about this one here. The whole situation makes me sad and I don’t have the emotional strength to re-word it myself. Here it is, in its unfiltered glory:
“Once I was fuckin a girl and she had a huge dark thick singular hair popping out… It was staring me in the face the whole time. I couldn’t finish.” – Adam, 26
“Little bits of toilet paper in the butthole or vagina area HUGE turnoff.” – Dan, 24
“Pustules in the face when eating out a girl. That’s a definite turnoff.” – Will, 28
Ok let’s unpack this!! First of all, yes, I associate with degenerates. These are partly things that you can avoid, and partly evidence that men watch too much porn and still expect women have Barbie vaginas. So women should LOOK like porn stars, but never act like them (see #1). Got it. BRB, walking off a cliff. Specifically, I’m guessing “pustules” are referring to ingrown hairs and not an active STD, which is so sad. (If it was the latter, then fine.) It means the woman in question was actually making an effort to be hairless, and suffered an unavoidable consequence.
If there’s a lesson here—and I’m not sure there is— maybe make sure you don’t have anything really pus-y (pun INTENDED) before having someone go down on you. Or like, do it anyway because eating you out is a privilege and a gift. Same goes for the whole “singular hair” comment—you can either do a quick run with tweezers, or decide you don’t give a fuck. Up to you.
My least favorite by far is the whole toilet paper thing—that does kind of seem on the woman to control. Like, you’d be pissed if you went down on a guy and got a mouthful of Charmin too. (Slash terrified because why was he using toilet paper on his penis. Is it an Usher/greenish discharge situation?? I’m sorry. I’m disgusting.) Anyway, this one felt worth noting because it’s very possible you’ve done it and not known. Aaaaand now I have yet another thing to add to my list of things to worry about before sex. Cool.
I include this with a word of caution, though. I had a shitty high school boyfriend who told me to go “wash myself” before every time we had sex, and it was fucked up and scarring. Know that there’s a line between being polite and being made to feel like your genitals are gross. Don’t have sex with guys who cross that line.
4. Making A Sex Schedule
This one came from a guy who’s in a long-term relationship (it shows). Specifically, Matt, 27, cited “providing a time bound” as a turn-off. The example he gave was “you need to stop playing video games by 11 if you want to have sex.” As someone with a full-time job, I have to say that an 11pm start time seems generous. But I do understand how treating sex like you’re Monica Geller in wedding planner mode is not exactly hot. For one thing, we already know guys have trouble performing if they’re under any kind of pressure. For another, it really removes any glimmer of the notion that the woman was just spontaneously turned on by you and decided she wanted to have sex.
So, while I understand (and lightly applaud) the impulse, maybe stay away from this practice for both your sakes, unless you’ve both mutually agreed to setting up a schedule to revive a dead bedroom. Otherwise, just have sex when you’re both in the mood. And if that’s not happening frequently enough, you have a different problem from time management to figure out.
Everyone sufficiently scarred? Good! That about fills you in on my last 48 hours. Please don’t think that I’m writing this article as “what you’re doing in bed that’s not getting you a call back.” I am, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, a sexual anthropologist. Whether or not you think these complaints are reasonable, it can’t hurt to know what the enemy the men you’re having sex with are thinking. Well, it can hurt but like, it’s useful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go repair the damage this article caused to my relationship.
Images: Giphy (4); Pexels / Moose Photos (1)