Living in a time of an unprecedented health crisis has drastically reshaped the way we go about our daily lives. With shelter-in-place restrictions and nightly curfews in place, the pandemic has significantly challenged the way we used to interact with each other – including romantically. Now that social distancing and self-isolation practices are our new normal, you may wonder, 'Can I hook up with a quarantine bae?' or 'Is sex off-limits – especially with someone I'm not living with?'
Whether you're looking for "Mr. Right" or "Mr. Right Now", COVID-19 has made connecting in person nearly impossible. The 'Rona has forced many of us to stay indoors for an unforeseeable amount of time and while you may be tempted to indulge in some quarantine-peen, you may want to think again.
While coronaviruses aren't strictly transmitted through sex, the virus can spread through direct contact with saliva or mucus – which can include kissing, licking, breathing on each other and a whole host of other freaky acts.
Couples who live together have the least amount of risk, especially since they already share a living space – but what happens if you don't have an in-house partner to ride out the quarantine with (literally and figuratively speaking)? Or what happens if you're just looking for someone to connect with during these difficult and unpredictable times?
While it may seem that your love life is on lockdown, it doesn't have to be. Chanta Blue, sex and relationship therapist and co-founder of the Blue Counseling & Wellness Center, offers pro tips on how to navigate the new dating scene while abiding by the social distancing measures.
"Like many things in our society right now, COVID-19 has changed the landscape of dating, sex, and relationships in general," Blue said. "There is also this belief that if you are in the home with your partner, you should be having a lot more sex since you have more time. This can be the case for some folks, but for others the state of social distancing is very stressful, and sex is the last thing that they want to think about."
"On the other hand, there are a lot of folks who are single and are trying to find ways to help reduce feelings of loneliness and get their emotional and sexual needs met," she explained. "Prior to COVID-19, singles were meeting at bars and clubs, hooking up with folks they met on dating apps or simply going on dates. Now that all social events and establishments are closed, and the threat of contracting a [potentially] fatal virus is real, singles are limited to virtual platforms for romantic and sexual connections."
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.
Reports show that dating apps have hit an all-time high thanks to the quarantine – new matches are even taking their first dates digital! "Singles are finding that they have a lot more time to engage in online dating now that they can't go out to bars or restaurants," Blue said.
"When virtual dating, just like when dating in-person, it's still important to understand what you're looking for in a potential partner. Are you looking for fun and hookups, or are you looking for commitment and long-term connections? I encourage folks to look at their relationship needs on six different levels: intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, physical and sexual. Then, start looking for your ideal partner."
Once you establish interest and rapport with a match, Blue suggests planning virtual dates to help get to know each other better. "If you have the space and privacy, set up a scene," she explained. "You can have picnics, watch movies together or go for long walks while video chatting."
Flood your brain with happy hormones.
In times of great anxiety and stress, you may have the desire to want to connect with someone on an emotional and physical level. "It's totally natural for people to crave physical and emotional connection with others during this time," Blue said. "We are social beings and need each other to survive."
"It's encouraged that people do not get physical with anyone who they're not quarantining or self-isolating with," she added. "With that being said, if you do find someone to weather the storm with, just try to take proper precautions to keep yourself and everyone in your home safe."
Blue explained how physical activities such as sex, hugging, kissing, and cuddling produces a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is known as the "love hormone" or the "cuddle hormone" and helps us bond with the people we care about.
"Unfortunately, it's really difficult to replace the feelings that we get from connecting with people in-person but there are a few things folks can try to increase their levels of oxytocin," she said. Blue recommended the following tips for heightened levels of this happy hormone:
- Self-massages (if physically able)
- Warming yourself with a weighted or heated blanket
- Listening and/or dancing to music
Looking for lovin’? Cyber sex is the way to go.
"There are so many great ways to satisfy sexual feelings with a partner during this time, even if you are not in the same home. Think of it as a long-distance relationship and get creative," Blue suggested.
According to the clinical sexologist, sexting is a great way to start off if you're nervous or just want to build some anticipation. Sexting can range anywhere from sharing your sexual fantasies to sending flirty thirst traps or full-on nudes!
"Scheduling phone or video chat sex sessions with each other is also a great way to sexually connect. With these methods, you get to express your wants and desires with your partner and get a sexual release at the same time. As you're sharing what positions you want to put them in or how wet you're getting, you can be mutually masturbating," Blue suggested. "Mutual masturbation, which is masturbating in front of or next to your partner while they are also masturbating, can be super arousing."
If you are feeling adventurous, Blue suggests investing in a remote or app-controlled vibrator to further enhance the experience (from a distance, of course). Watching porn together during these sessions can also be a great stimulator.
"One thing to remember though -- you want to first make sure that all parties consent to sending and receiving sexual content," Blue advises. "Also, it's important to talk about boundaries and expectations whenever you're trying something new. If you are concerned about your images or video sessions being leaked, I always say 'no face, no case'. Try keeping your face out of explicit pictures, video shots or during video sex sessions."
While there's so much we have yet to learn about the virus, the New York City Department of Health offers a key piece of advice: The safest person to have sex with is yourself. Additionally, with all the extra time we have on our hands, now's the perfect moment to put them to use.
"Masturbation is the best way to learn your body and establish the basics of your sexual likes and dislikes. Exploring your own body through masturbation can bring so much pleasure and has many other health benefits," said Blue. "Masturbation has been found to reduce headaches and menstrual cramps, release tension and stress, improve sleep and boost your self-esteem! Also, having an orgasm is another way to release oxytocin."
"There are many different ways to masturbate that can keep you from getting bored. You can change up your position -- if you always masturbate on your back, try standing up against a wall or turning over on your stomach," Blue suggested. "You can also try adding a toy such as a vibrator or a butt plug. I know Amazon is cracking down on 'non-essential' items but this might be a great time to support small businesses by finding an online sex toy boutique or reaching out to a sex toy consultant."
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