Has the Pandemic Changed Intimacy Forever?
Now that we are nearing a post-pandemic world, a prevalent concern is, will dating ever be the same? There was once a time when the art of wooing (yes, wooing) and romance often involved dinner and a movie, a few drinks in a crowded bar or a goodnight kiss — intimacy which the pandemic abruptly replaced with social distancing, mask-wearing, and the threat of catching a potentially deadly disease. Basically, dating in 2020 was terrifying. But now with the rollout of vaccines and the end of lockdown near, many of life’s once-mundane routines are returning. This means dating has come back in full force; are people ready to put themselves out there though?
For some, the coronavirus brought on physical and existential fears too distressing to shake off overnight, even after inoculation. There’s also the case that the long periods of isolation have inspired awakenings and shifted priorities — for better or worse. The vaccines will stem the possibility of infection, but not necessarily the social anxieties of the past year. After being cooped up for so long it’s ironic, but understandable that many of us don’t have the same insatiable lust for going out like before. And even if you do, much of the conversations today are centered on Covid-19. “Did you get Pfizer or Moderna?” is the new icebreaker. We are stuck in that pandemic state of mind.
What’s not sexy? ‘Covid baggage.’
While some singles are hoping to build deep, long-lasting monogamous relationships, others are simply craving some no-strings-attached fun. After a tough year, more people are focusing on themselves whether that be in the search for the right one on Bumble or Hinge or realizing you deserve to reconnect with yourself. It’s that newfound assertiveness and self-compassion that is a definite positive change resulting from the pandemic. Like coming to terms to finally get out of that toxic relationship that’s been holding you back or admitting that the long-distance relationship isn’t working for you. So in the spirit of sexual wellness, we have reached out to some experts about the meaning of intimacy and relationships to give us some words of wisdom to ease back into the dating scene.
Making these simple but effective tweaks in your life can go a long way to improve your overall sex life. Remember that your sexual wellness is linked to your emotional, physical, and relational wellbeing. And the first step to sexual wellbeing is open communication.
Do You Actually Like That?
The basis of any relationship is solid and unfettered verbal communication, not just physical intimacy in the relationship. It is extremely important to talk to your partner about their likes, dislikes, fantasies, etc. The ability to talk about sexuality is the often ignored solution to sexual problems within the couple. This is absolutely essential when it comes to closing the orgasm gap. For instance, when women fake orgasms (which research shows about 70 percent of women do), they are training partners to do precisely what doesn't work for them. Most women fake orgasms during sex, based on the false belief that this is how they "should" orgasm. In one study it was found that 95% of women reach orgasm with clitoral stimulation, either alone (e.g., oral sex) or coupled with intercourse (e.g., using a vibrator during intercourse).
If you're part of the 95 percent, below you'll find some tips for communicating with your partner about the stimulation you need, both in and outside of the bedroom. Let’s remove the awkwardness out of sex talk.
During a sexual encounter you can
Let your fingers do the talking: Stated simply, you can put your partner's hand in the right place, guiding it with yours. Whether it's the first or the fiftieth time, you can guide your partner's hands to touch you the way you like. Providing a bit of guidance goes a long way. Maybe even ease into the groove with some lube. Vaginal dryness is a very real thing and it’s very common for any age. Dryness is a bit of a taboo subject, but we are here to tell you that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. By opening up dialogue in the bedroom, you expand your safe space via collaborative exploration. Extra lubrication is just another way to better both your experiences as well as explore foreplay. CBD lube is a great option, increasing sensitivity, promoting relaxation, and decreasing pain and anxiety.
Offer brief instructions: You can use words to convey your sexual desires, such as to touch here or there, harder or lighter. “More,” “faster,” “slower,” and “harder” are words that can be quickly and efficiently used. Of course, such simple instructions can result in miscommunication. You could say “faster” and your partner could think this means “harder.” So, it’s important to be willing to continue to give ongoing instructions. And, then, when a partner hits it just right, you can give positive feedback, saying for example, “That feels great!”, “Yeah, just like that”, or “Oooh! Keep doing that.” If giving such instructions sounds awkward or uncomfortable, you aren't alone, but also know there is no need to feel embarrassed. Many perceive instructions as a turn-on, but they can also be a boon to your partner whose main goal is to give you pleasure.
Show, not tell: If you want to teach your partner exactly how to stimulate your clitoris or how you prefer to be touched, something that works wonders is to masturbate while your partner observes. While this idea initially sounds embarrassing for many people, those who’ve tried it mostly give it rave reviews. It’s your moment to shine, not only as it is a turn-on to watch, but it can also be educational. In that instant, you are transformed into your erotic, divine self: own it! You can also throw a sex toy into the mix if you want to provide some additional instructive examples or as an invitation to include sex toys in the future. Sex toys are often assumed to be reserved for solo activity, but when used by couples, the benefits are endless, such as keeping your pelvic floor muscles toned and your libido charged.
In summary: Practicing, better communication will help you to maintain a healthy connection both in and out of the bedroom.