It has been a year of actively avoiding physical touch. When we walk through the supermarket we duck and dodge the elderly ladies with inexplicable death wishes, we cringingly recoil from welcoming hugs offered by old (and apparently stupid) friends, and, like Lady Macbeth, we relentlessly scrub at the library desk before we sit down to prevent touching others by proxy. So, it only makes sense that touching sexual partners has somewhat lost its appeal.
Sex has always been complicated, but this year it may have become even more complicated. Some couples have been separated by at least two metres since the second lockdown, others have been stuck in close quarters with each other for months on end, and single people are now burdened with the illegality of dating during a pandemic. As a person in a long-term relationship that has been fortunate enough to see my partner regularly, I am aware that, technically, I am in the best situation of the bunch. However, the highs and lows of lockdown sex have absolutely thrown me for a loop.
When lockdown first hit in March of last year, sex was not the first thing that popped into my mind — I was far too engrossed in puzzles, daily walks, and all-consuming anxiety. In an article for the Guardian, Emine Saner explains that in “research conducted by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University last year, nearly half of respondents reported a decline in the frequency of sexual behaviour, including masturbation,” which, somehow, is relieving. The first thing to remember if you’re struggling with your libido during this mess of a year is that you are not alone. If your partner’s sex drive hasn’t changed one bit or if, incredibly, it has actually increased, it can be easy to feel like you’re the cause of a spiralling sexual setback, but there was no way to predict how this year would affect our lives. Sometimes problems surrounding sex can feel like the end of the world, but by sharing your concerns with your partner you can start to feel a little bit less alone in an already isolating time.
So, what can we do about it? Communication is absolutely the key to this problem. Unsurprisingly, relationships are a two-way street, and discussing any problems you may be having is vital to cooperatively working to improve the situation. Sit down with your partner, give them a quick ring, or write an anonymous magazine article and make sure it ends up in their inbox. Saner suggests practising “simmering”, “gestures of light arousal without the expectation or possibility of sex.” Rebuilding the association between sex and pleasure is difficult when all you can do is worry about it, but if we go into every sexual encounter expecting to be turned-off then being turned on is an impossibility. Reintroducing the exciting elements of arousal without the expectation of sex can help to reignite desire without the fear of disappointment.
Experiment! Use this as an opportunity to try out new things: try sex toys in the bedroom, watch a steamy film to get into the mood, or take yourselves out on a romantic date to the living room (if you can kick your housemates out) to disrupt the comfortable, yet repetitive, routine of daily living.
It pays to remember that sex, while important, is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship. And, as life begins to return to its long-awaited normality, we can hopefully shake off some of the excess stress that we’ve been lugging around and re-enter the bedroom with considerable aplomb.
– Anonymous RAZZ Writer
Featured Image Source: Pexels