What does the future of sex look like?
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on relationships. Some are thriving with the time and space to finally enjoy each other, free from the mayhem of everyday life. It’s been an opportunity for them to connect or reconnect and make the most of the circumstances. For others, it hasn't been so peachy. It’s not exactly a sexually-inspiring time. Coronavirus isn't just threatening our physical health, but also our emotional, psychological and sexual health. This is having an impact on relationships of all kinds, for those living together alone, or with others, and those living apart. Some are having to work really hard to be kind, empathetic and respectful to the person they are with all day every day.
THE LASTING EFFECTS.
We’re currently in the longest, most drawn out and collective experience of foreplay. People are longing for the time they can be around people, to hug, kiss and touch those they love or like. Physical intimacy (not necessarily sexual) has huge benefits for an individual's overall health and wellbeing, and it seems people recognise how vital it is for their sense of grounding and connection. These changes will certainly have lasting impact on people's behaviour and how they relate. Especially when it comes to touching without a sexual agenda, rather touching to connect with someone in a friendly, comforting way.
As we are now hyper-aware of infection, it may have an impact on how keen people are to touch and be touched by people they don’t know well. Which could be a useful practice in checking-in, boundaries and consent. For example, we could see a change in the mandatory greeting hug and kiss or handshake, instead, people will be required to get a sense of what the other person is open to. Giving autonomy back to the individuals, and practicing skills to keep each other safe.
FACING NEW REALITIES.
This is a time for (forced) introspection, which may be useful for some, but daunting for others. People perhaps are faced with a reality they haven’t had to confront or acknowledge before, even meeting aspects of their loved ones and themselves that they don’t recognise. We respond to stress, anxiety and uncertainty very differently. It’s common to feel you don’t have the framework to navigate this time, no one does - it’s so far from a normal human experience, so it’s really important to do things that help you feel supported, grounded and connected - and this will be different for everyone. For some that may mean seeking professional support, others will use grounding and mindfulness practices, others will request time and space from their partners/people they're living with, and others will just focus on getting out of bed each day.
COVID-19 & DESIRE.
There have been really obvious shifts in behaviour, people may be feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress for a range of reasons. And this has a huge impact on desire and libido. There’s the obvious psychological response to experiencing stress, it can cause you to be distant, dizzy or hazy, distracting you from desiring sex or being present during sex. It can also impact your mood, leading to anxiety and depression, which can have an impact on libido and desire. There’s also a physiological explanation for the impact stress has on sex. When you’re stressed, your body goes into fight or flight response, meaning you prepare to run away or stay and fight. When you’re in fight or flight response, your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate increase while non-essential functions, like sex drive, are acutely diminished. These responses also trigger the release of hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which in high levels can cause decreased sex drive. When you’re chronically stressed your body uses sex hormones to meet the increased demands for higher cortisol production, decreasing your interest in sex.
SEX TECH CULTURE.
It has been incredible to see certain stigmas and taboos shifting, like sex toys and technology. People still want to experience pleasure, and toys are providing wonderful solutions in this time of distance. Toys play a vital role in pleasurable sex, and they can really help when physical intimacy is tricky. There’s some incredible apps around that allow you and your partner to sync your toys and control each other's vibrations, no matter how far apart you are.
I hope we all come out of this with a positive, healthy and open approach to sex.