By Suzannah Weiss
Feel like your sex life’s been a bit lacking lately (if not outright nonexistent)? Yeah, that’s kind of a thing right now.
In a survey by the app Mentimeter and relationship therapist Vienna Pharaon, 36% of people in the U.S. and Europe said the spark between them and their partners has dwindled since quarantine, and 41% were having less sex.
Anyone else surprised those numbers aren’t higher?
The reason this is happening is fairly simple: People’s libidos drop when they’re under stress, says MFT and sex therapist Indigo Stray Conger, LMFT, CST. “In survival mode, our nervous systems are wired for less social bonding and less emotionally vulnerable activities, which can include sex,” she explains. “Add to that the ramifications of being stuck inside during a shelter-in-place mandate, and healthy libidos may drop even more: less sunshine, exercise, and social engagement are all factors which have the potential to lower sex drive.”
But don’t let that become yet another reason to panic. The pandemic may have put a damper on your sex life in the short term, but once you’ve figured out how to get over that hurdle, your relationship will ultimately benefit from it.
Here are a few ways to get your sex life back on track and out of the quarantine slump:
Get out whenever you can
Even if you’re just taking a walk together, seeing your partner outside the context of your usual routine and home setting can bring back some of the chemistry, says Conger — especially if you only see them nowadays in their pajamas in the living room.
Even better if you two can each get out on your own for a while so that you have the chance to miss each other a little.
Talk about your turn-ons
“You may think that you and your partner already know what fantastic sex should be like together, but assumptions, miscommunications, and perceived rejections can all do avoidable damage to relationships,” says Conger. “Get comfortable talking about the intimate dance you are creating in your couple.”
Explore your sensual side
If you and/or your partner are stressed out, giving and receiving affection can boost your moods, and starting off with non-sexual touch helps set the stage for sex later on. Cuddling, massaging, or taking a bath or shower together can allow you to reconnect as a couple. “Slow down, take your time, and rediscover the sensual pleasure of touching your partner’s entire body,” says sex therapist Diana Wiley, PhD, author of Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine.
“Sensual experiences lay the groundwork for mind-blowing sexual experiences,” explains sexologist Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D. “This is why our desire dwindles in the mundane and predictable day-to-day of ‘regular life.’”
To create a sex-slump-proof environment that ignites the senses, try giving each other massages or feeding each other chocolate or fruit.
Try something new
Familiarity can be a killer of passion, O’Reilly explains.
One way to break out of your familiar roles is to literally role play — O’Reilly suggests starting out by getting sexy costumes.
It may seem like nothing runs on a schedule anymore these days. Especially if you’re working from home, work time and playtime have a way of blending into each other. But if you want to have more sex, the most surefire way to make sure that happens is to actually schedule it, says Wiley. While sending your partner a calendar invite for sexy times may not sound all that sexy, it can give you the chance to build up anticipation and start foreplay early in the form of dirty talk or sexting.
Offer emotional support
Since stress is likely at the root of the problem, you and your partner can support each other by talking about anything that might be worrying you, says Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist specializing in marriage counseling.
When there’s a disagreement between you, try to be sensitive and compassionate, and remember you’re both going through a rough time. When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, make sure to be there for yourself and increase your self-care. “When environmental and relational stress are better managed, chemistry and libido tend to naturally resurge,” says Fisher.
Look on the bright side
So, much like the pandemic itself, there may not be a quick fix to your quarantine-induced sex slump. The issues that brought it on are probably deep-seated and complex, and it may take some persistence to get things back on track.
The good news is, once you tackle the underlying issues, your sex life and relationship will both be better for it. “When environmental and relational stress are better managed, chemistry and libido tend to naturally resurge,” says Fisher.
In other words, if you can both support and empathize with each other and listen to each other’s desires, quarantine may actually bring you closer, and that’s what will lead to great sex in the long-run. That, and some inventiveness.
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