“Slide through when you want
You know I want to put you on
It’s evil out there
Let’s keep it at home…”
So sings Leon Bridges at the beginning of “Inside Friend,” the single he released just this April with John Mayer. Though the song was written in an impromptu jam session in 2019, it seems to have caught on as the perfect quarantine song. But as seductive as the idea of an inside friend (read: quarantine “buddy”) may be, these are not sexy times, and the coronavirus continues to make sure of it.
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The pandemic has brought with it its fair share of twists and turns. Affecting every facet of life—the way we socialize, study, work, and do business—nothing could quite prepare us for the unprecedented crisis of intimacy. Just as nobody is safe from the virus, both singles and couples aren’t exempt from the challenges of sex in the time of COVID-19.
Touch has become the rarest quarantine provision, harder to come by than essential goods or even your favorite chocolate cake. Not knowing when you’ll be able to get back to hugging, cuddling, or sharing a bed with someone makes the craving for human connection more desperate.
In a time when we’re required to exercise prioritizing needs from wants, the question of where sex falls in that spectrum seems to be on everybody’s minds. Now that we’re under GCQ, this raises a lot of issues around safe intimate physical contact, and what it may look like in the future.
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Sex in the time of coronavirus
Life circumstances have a way of making their way into the bedroom. While some of us are mating in actual captivity, some have been feeling an aversion to sex. “It really depends on how the person copes with the pandemic,” shares psychologist and sex therapist Rica Cruz. “It is said that at the beginning of the ECQ, people started having less sex because they do not see it as necessary. As they adjusted, people started to look for social and physical interaction, this translated to them yearning for intimacy.”
Cruz adds how studies have shown different shifts in sexual behavior. In China, a survey conducted among young men and women revealed that 44% of the participants reported a decrease in the number of sexual partners while 37% reported a decrease in sexual frequency.
Another study done in India showed that there has been an increase in sexual activity in their participants as a result of “seeking intimacy and reassurance, or simply having more time to spend with their partner.”
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Online, porn consumption increased during the quarantine, with people looking at diverse porn themes including coronavirus-themed porn.
While there is no one right way to handle moments such as these, it is still important to note that sex is a high-risk setting for almost any infection. “COVID-19 is not considered as a sexually transmitted infection. However, given that it can be passed on through kissing and close contact, and respiratory droplets can be exchanged during sexy time, sexual activity in these instances may be another way to spread the virus,” notes Cruz.
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Goodbye hookups (for now)
Dating is hard during the best of times. Throw in a highly contagious virus for which there’s no cure or vaccine and nationwide social distancing mandates, any attempt to date is pretty much null and void in the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying.
To help users navigate dating in the new normal, apps such as Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Grindr, are rolling out new video-based and voice call features allowing users to meet for virtual dates. “Filipinos spend hours on the internet, on social media and even on dating apps,” says Cruz. “People may turn to online dating apps to create new ‘friendships’ as they yearn for connections.”
While technology now allows us to date more virtually and more carefully, this new dating scene begs the question of whether or not hookup culture is dead.
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When asked, Cruz notes that random hookups may not be the best idea at the moment. “For people who would want to have hookups, it is advised that these should be considered carefully. Everyone should be practicing physical distancing at this time. While it can be challenging, it is of utmost importance to keep you and your loved ones safe.”
We don’t know how long this pandemic will last but for those who can’t wait months to be intimate, Cruz shares some ideas on how you can still maintain a healthy sex life even during a pandemic:
- Now is the perfect time for you to explore your body and know what brings it pleasure by yourself. If you haven’t tried masturbating yet, this may be the best time to do so.
- You may also engage in sexting, phone sex, or cybersex with a partner who doesn’t live with you. Just ensure your safety when using technology.
- Using sex toys can also play a crucial role in sexual intimacy especially at this time.
- The safest partner/s is someone who lives with you. If both of you have no symptoms or no contact with people who may have been exposed to the virus, then you may continue having sex as you normally do.
If this all sounds fairly bleak, it’s because it is—hopefully though this is just for now. But the more everyone commits to social distancing, the faster we can all get back (and down) to business.
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Banner image by iWant (Sunday Night Fever) for illustrative purposes only