Unpopular pandemic opinion: if you’re living with a partner, you’re probably sick of the sight of them. Will Hislop captured the insufferable.
Crow now, Will, but in nine months, we’ll all be eyeing your little bundle of joy in the knowledge you were bored one night after finishing Bridgerton. Jokes aside, mustering up the energy means actually having to switch out of sweatpants, and engineering a sexy mood switch in the same room that’s the setting for the wrong kind of pulse-raising Zooms with colleagues, fraught check-ins with family and friends, financial worries and for many, homeschooling too.
If you’re flying solo or with flatmates/family, the closest you’re getting to any action is enthusiastically saluting the Tesco delivery driver when they drop off the weekly shop without any substitutions. Lockdown 1.0 was all about the apps and socially distanced dating but now two lockdown on, the frisson has gone. Hands, face, space: genitals don’t get a look in. So, how is it affecting our sex lives? Results from a survey on lockdown libido by the sexperts at MysteryVibe are pretty eye-opening... and just a little reassuring.
A quarter of Brits report that lockdown restrictions have reduced their opportunity to have sex - either because they or their partner have been caught in them.
1 in 10 of us say that working from home has decreased our sex drive, while 6% say too much time on Zoom calls is harming their libido.
11% say the political landscape is ruining their sex life.
23% say that a year of negative headlines more generally has taken its toll.
Loneliness can cause heightened anxiety, which has an impact on our sex drive.
The Christmas break, traditionally a time to rest and recharge, wasn’t as expected for many of us. We’ve headed straight into 2021 without downtime and the prospect of a long wait for a vaccine. Our bodies - and minds - are under extreme stress, which can cause a locked-down libido and really impact what’s going on between the sheets.
Winter Is(n’t) Coming
Cuffing season is let’s be real, cancelled. First up, it’s freezing (shoutout to last week’s flurry of last Christmas snow), the cold weather and lockdown fatigue are, like us, very much in the house. Add lack of sunlight, vitamin D, less stimuli and no definite deadline and return to normal life in sight and it’s no wonder we’re really feeling it right now.
"It's tiring and frustrating" not to know when life might resume,” - Paul Nuki, Senior Editor Global Health Security at Telegraph.
We’re all getting increasingly creative when it comes to finding joy these days. Zip up your boots and go for that government-approved walk in the sunshine, maybe even venture to… dare we say, a different park? Take up a manual hobby, is rug tufting still in? Who cares, gimme that tufting gun! Give back: scope out which pubs and cafes in your area are fixing up free meals for kids this half-term and show them some Paypal love, donate to the School of Sexuality Education in the name of consent and digital literacy, and support your local independent businesses.
Be kind to yourself: ignore your third Clubhouse ping this morning, lean into your new obsession with skincare (shout out to our faves at TONIC15 and Comme Deux), if you live with your partner - give each other space, even 15 minutes a day can deflate tension and indulge that passion for true crime docs/Friends/Disney+. Whatever it is that makes the tension in your chest go ‘AAAAAAAahhhhhhhhh’, try and carve out a slice of ‘you time’ every day to help manage stress.
Psychologists Katie Anderson and Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez of Middlesex University, who are studying the impact of Covid lockdowns on romantic relationships reassure us that, “being in the same space all day with the same person goes against thousands of years of evolution, so be compassionate with yourselves. Whether you’re having more or less sex, it’s a huge change to adjust to.”
And speaking of sexy stuff: if you’re living with your sexual partner, dip your toe back in the water with a little arousal. We all get in the mood at different times and exploring your erogenous areas is pretty key: focus on touching, kissing, and teasing. Tell your partner what works (and what doesn’t, consent and communication are sexy), set the scene - that Boy Smells candle ain’t gonna light itself, stick on your fave getting down to it anthems and make sure you’re not going to be interrupted or have any distractions. Don’t put pressure on this leading to sex, just enjoy strengthening that bond with your partner and whatever happens, happens.
Going solo? Masturbation is a solid option, with the Terrence Higgins Trust advising that “your best sexual partner during the Covid-19 pandemic is yourself (or someone within your household).” Head to our dedicated blog for top tips now and shop HANX gentle water-based lubricant here.
Finally, it’s ok to ‘just exist’ right now, the current work-eat-sleep-repeat mechanic for many is kind of the only thing we can do. We're hopeful (with a side of trepidation) for what the rest of 2021 will bring but if you're not feeling so great that's okay, too.