Most people in lockdown are likely experiencing drastic changes to their established routine. There’s no office commute, no school runs, no nightclubbing, no owambe weekends. It’s unsurprising then that for a lot of people, these changes may also be affecting their sex life.
Many of us have been locked in for at least 3 weeks now and it seems the pregnancy countdown your friends predicted may not happen after all.
What many are uncovering from being indoors with their partners is that they barely have time for each other, being indoors has not translated to having more sex. Our days have somehow been occupied with long work hours still. People are binge-eating, rushing out to supermarkets, chatting on WhatsApp, doing online workouts, getting COVID-19 news updates, 5G and the conspiracies surrounding it, and wondering if this is the end of the world.
When it comes to feeling sexy in lockdown, I’ve never felt so far from it. I became perplexed and carried out a quick check-in with some of my besties. “Babe, are you getting busy?” And the answers ranged from a laugh to “hmmm, no not really” and very few “yes”. One friend said, “Netflix has snatched my husband o” and that hit home because across the bed from me, was my own husband watching ‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ clearly more fascinated by Annalise Keaton.
On Twitter, users lamented that the ‘general panic and despair’ had led to the sudden disappearance of their libido. Others described feeling ‘unappealing’ or wanting to cuddle and eat snacks instead.
In a poll of just over 9,000 people from NBC News, only 24% said the Coronavirus outbreak had positively affected their sex lives, 28% were neutral and 47% said it had affected them negatively.
Online, sex researchers and therapists acknowledge that people could really go either way. “After all, we know from a mountain of psychological research that two people can respond to the same situation in very different ways and that the factors that increase sexual desire in some can drive it down in others,” Justin Lehmiller, a sex researcher at the Kinsey Institute, wrote in a blog post.
Here are some of the reasons we are not getting busier under the sheets:
Though a lot of us may not admit it, staying home is turning out to be more stressful than we envisage. Being in a state of constant worry about COVID-19 and how to stay safe and the anxiety of potentially losing your job will take a toll on all relationships. Accord to Sandra Uko, a sex therapist, ‘sex is the last thing on people’s minds when they are worried.’
However, according to an article on Men’s Health, there was a 17.8 % spike in web searches on Pornhub in March suggesting that not everyone is experiencing a similar reaction to stress. It also reported that “people are also coming out of the woodwork asking for sex. We’ve seen an increase in people texting their exes or even casual partners from the past.”
In Writing in Psychology Today, sex therapist, Diane Gleim, suggests that it all comes down to a delicate balancing act. “A person’s sex drive needs just enough anxiety/tension/uncertainty to get activated but not too much anxiety/tension/uncertainty, else the person can get overwhelmed, flooded, and then sex drive goes underground,” she writes. “Think of it like the Goldilocks principle: not too much (anxiety), not too little (anxiety), but just (the) right (amount of anxiety).”
It is hard to keep intimacy alive when you have no space or time for independent activities. According to relationship expert, Esther Perel, in her book Mating in Captivity, too much closeness and a loss of mystery can impede on our erotic desires. She wrote “love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other. With too much distance, there can be no connection. But too much merging eradicates the separateness of two distinct individuals. Then there is nothing more to transcend, no bridge to walk on, no one to visit on the other side, no other internal world to enter. When people become fused—when two become one— connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus, separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.”
During this interminable period of intense stress and anxiety, it’s hardly surprising if you find your libido and mood oscillating from one extreme to the other. It doesn’t mean that your relationship is in trouble, it shows that you are human.