Just another Sex Crisis? Sex and intimacy during COVID-19
Insights from your Sexuality Counselor - Alex Kallivroussis
Illustration by Vollgas Studio
In 1986 I was a 13 years old with boiling hormones and a wild interest in anything that had to do with sex. One of the first things I remember, considering my blooming sexuality, was my father handing each of my two brothers, my sister and myself a pack of condoms. "Use these, just in case. You know, with HIV and all!" Not exactly what I would call a warm welcome into the beautiful world of sex. The one thing we all were sort of anticipating, with all its forbidden joys, is now a deadly threat unless you wrapped it all up in latex.
The one thing we all were sort of anticipating, with all its forbidden joys, is now a deadly threat unless wrapped up in latex.
Thirty-four years, one coming out and three relationships later, I am a sexuality counsellor and massage therapist, who aims to support my clients with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, lost lust, open relationships and all the other goodies and not so goodies that are part of being a sexually active being.
After decades of political, social and medical transformations, where such wonderful things as same-sex marriage (at least partially in some countries), sex positivity, gender inclusivity, online dating, sex toy exploration, prostate orgasms for men, multiple orgasms for women and the new possibility of having latex-free fun for two, three or more with PrEP; are finally part of our lives, then a tiny, little game-changer crashes like a bomb among us and our bedrooms. Meet party pooper - COVID-19.
We no longer are putting ourselves in danger by having unsafe sex, but we can get into serious health troubles or even die by simply kissing our object of desire as a bonus. On top of condoms, there is now masks that parents have to hand out to their offspring.
On top of condoms, there is now masks that parents have to hand out to their offspring.
So what now? Are we back in the sexual dark ages? Why does it seem as if this new challenge is hitting us so much harder than back in the eighties? I personally think that it has to do with the fact that we have gotten so used to having instant availability and access to almost everything. The trips to London, the dinner parties, the one night stands just waiting on the tip of your fingertips. Everything once seemed to be reachable and ready for the taking. Social media didn't exist in the eighties; we couldn't share our selfies and all the trophies of our polished up lives like we can today. We couldn't publish our opinions, ideas or dirty little sex tapes online for everyone to marvel at. Today, a lockdown means that we can't savour all the fun stuff, but we also can't share it with the rest of the world.
The other aspect is the sneakiness of the virus. Hugs and kisses have never been a cause for concern. First base never required a mask or latex (unless that turns you on). Human contact seems to be at risk—one of our very primary and elementary needs. Even if we take out all the juiciness of flirtation or sex, we totally, utterly need to touch and be touched amongst friends, lovers and family. Being deprived of this necessary human interaction feels like it's driving us even further from one another. Our online, non-stop availability already has been an obstacle in being more intimate with each other and more present in our lives.
One of the other basic needs that we have as humans is the need for security and safety. Since this coronavirus has been actively part of our lives, we live with an underlining fear of what might still happen to us because of this crisis. Jobs are threatened, businesses are closing down, and stress levels are going through the roof. We just don't do well having to deal with an uncertain future. Our societies are built on securing a future with pension and retirement plans. So, what now? Lockdowns and press conferences with weekly changing safety measurements and vaccination plans? Of course, we struggle; our little, pink and safe life bubble has burst with a loud bang. All illusions tend to explode in our face. Hello, reality.
Of course, we struggle. Of course, our little, pink and safe life bubble burst with a loud bang. All illusions tend to explode in our face. Hello, reality.
Now you might say, "What's wrong with you, man? We know all that. What sort of counsellor are you? Please give us some real help and advice." Fair enough, let's dive into the deep and see how we can deal with this situation.
First things first, this is a crisis. And like all of the ones before, we will manage this one as well. That's what we humans do. When we come out of a crisis, we usually get stronger than before. That's what we call resilience. Look at it as a challenge, not as a threat. As stupid as this might sound, it puts you from the passive victim position into the more active position. You still can do things. You still can enjoy your life, even with the current restrictions.
· You still can travel - even though it just might be from your apartment to the next city park.
· You still can date - even though you have to follow some rules.
· You still can have a fancy dinner - even though it might just be a dinner for two in your living room.
For all of you who might throw the "F" word in my direction, fair enough, but it's a change of perspective that will finally give you peace of mind and the much-needed energy to get yourselves out of a state of depression and misery. Start those guitar lessons that you always wanted to do. Read the stack of books that are waiting for a decade to be read. Paint, doodle, cook, puzzle, bake, sing or learn Chinese. Take your online BA or Masters. Get busy! That's what is going to get you back on your feet mentally. Train your brain and train your body. Get your ass out on the street and move your rusty muscles. Breathe some fresh air and stop being glued on the couch (which you secretly love to do but don't dare to admit).
Now let's get down to what you guys might want to know about sex during these times - let's look at it from different queer perspectives:
I am a happy horny single who wants to be safe and sexually satisfied.
If you are single and totally feel like you need to get some action, or otherwise, you will jump the next delivery guy, treat yourself with some sex toys first. Have fun with yourself or engage in cam sex. This is still the safest option. Suppose you feel the need for another body. In that case, you might be able to reconnect with some of your previous (pardon my French) fu*k buddies after making sure that you followed the necessary safety measures. Quarantine before and after your hookups. If needed, get tested.
I met that one perfect person online, and I want to date them.
Make sure to meet them in a park or some other open location. See if there is a click and talk about your own concerns, needs and wishes. If you want to get a physical, plan a specific date and quarantine to ensure that you are safe. You can be creative by making a fun countdown of some sorts until you finally meet. Enjoy yourselves and consider regular safe sex practices. If you are on PrEP, make sure that you follow the prescribed regime before and after engaging in sex.
But I want sex right now!
If you can't control your urges and you do hook up without them or yourself having quarantined before, wash your hands before and after. Use a mask, and if possible, try to avoid kissing (I know that's such a crazy spoiler). Use condoms and licking dams. If you are on PrEP, make sure that you follow the prescribed regime before and after engaging in sex. Air the room and wash your sheets. Quarantine after and make sure to test if you have symptoms.
We are a couple but don't want to kill each other!
For couples who live together, you might feel the need for some personal space. Make sure to let your partner know whenever you need some privacy. Take long walks and plan safe social meetups with friends to keep your social life active (as much as possible). Cultivate your own interests to have things to share with your partner, beside whose turn it is to empty the stinking organic trash this time. Organise date night at home or in a lovely outdoor location. Leave the house or apartment separately and meet, as an example, at the park bench for an improvised picnic. Or dress up for your very own candlelight dinner on the balcony. Make plans for a nice little getaway. Whatever is possible regarding the safety measures. Be creative and let your fantasy take over.
We are a long-distance couple.
Write each other letters (yes, real ones) and let your loved one know what beautiful things you would like to do with them or to them. Use the camera for cam sex or just a joined dinner while the camera is running. Send each other a box with little surprises. Talk about fears and hopes. Make plans for the future and keep away from the unhealthy routine talk. Share exciting things and thoughts. Don't give in to the negative thoughts and the nagging stuff. Venting every now and then can be ok, but it kills the mood if you do it too often.
How can our polyamorous relationship survive this?
Consider living together for a certain amount of time if you don't want to quarantine every time after being with one of your partners. If that doesn't work, you will have to communicate even more precise than before what your individual needs are and in which way you can accommodate those needs. The quarantine will be necessary, as well as following the locally applied rules for group gatherings. Forming bubble households is a solution that you might consider.
Other things to consider to stay mentally and physically healthy:
· Book a massage to get some well deserved and much-needed touch and attention
· Seek professional help if you struggle with depression, stress or anxiety
· Move your body - take walks, do yoga, dance in your apartment
· Meditate and try to activate your fantasy
· Eat healthily, cook your own meals, or at least some of them
· Don't stay in your sweats all day, take your showers and dress appropriately
· Talk to people and try to do some safe social gatherings.
· Plan little trips even though you might be limited time and space-wise
· Try to focus on the good stuff (yes, there is also good stuff, and you know it), not only on the restrictions and other nasty stuff that happens right now
· Take the opportunity to reflect on things that you might want to change in the future or something that you want to pursue - this is the time to do this, you might never again have as much time on your hands as right now
· Finally, don't just think about your own misery; try to support local businesses that are struggling because of the restrictions
There you go! My two cents worth of thoughts and some professional advice in one. If you need further support, feel free to contact other professionals or me. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with this crisis.
Closing this article, I can't help but think about my grandfather's wise words.
"It is a storm, and it will pass."
I worked 20 years in digital marketing and communication before I decided to dedicate my professional life, to support people through bodywork and sexuality coaching to discover their authentic selves and enjoy a conscious, juicy, and exciting life.
You can find out more information on my websites:
Bodywork - www.body-praxis.ch
Sexuality Coaching - www.mypenisandi.com