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Quarantine & Chill: What To Know About Sex & Dating During A Pandemic

Dating during the coronavirus? Don't let social distancing stop your vibe.

Love & Relationships

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.

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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.

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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
  • Laughing
  • Listening and/or dancing to music

Looking for lovin’? Cyber sex is the way to go.

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"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."

Prioritize self-pleasure.

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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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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