Whether you've been fantasizing about a bowl of fruit or can't seem to make it from the bed to the couch, one thing is for sure: Staying inside 24/7 is changing our sex drives. According to Jennifer Litner, MSc, MEd, LMFT, CST, sex therapist and founder of Embrace Sexual Wellness, LLC, social distancing can have both excitatory and inhibitory effects on your arousal levels. So, which umbrella do you fall under?
Isolation can boost eroticism, she tells Bustle. It's natural to experience an increased desire to hook up, particularly when you can't. Your sex drive could be through the roof as you pine away for your partner, or chat with a date through FaceTime. As the saying (sort of) goes — social distancing makes the heart grow horny.
For JC, 26, the time away from his partner has been difficult. They've been isolated separately, and texting from their perspective towns. But their sexual tension is building. "I'm really enjoying it," he tells Bustle. "I have a bit of a fetish for sexting and sending nude photos, so I've ended up digitally getting sexual pleasure!"
Others are working out their sexual frustration by masturbating more than usual. Not only is it the safest way to be sexual right now, Litner says, but getting it on with yourself relieves pent up energy, anxiety, and boredom. Perhaps that's why more and more people are turning to porn sites like Pornhub, now that dating in person and one-night hookups are temporarily off the table.
As time has gone on, the stress of not knowing if we will work the next week or even the next day, worrying about our family’s health, and hearing about friends getting sick or losing their jobs has halted sexual intimacy.
But Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, tells Bustle that your sex drive could also be conversely impacted by your mental health. "The times we are living in are unprecedented," he says. "It is very likely that you may feel different because your environment itself is very different."
That's been the case for Andrea, 34, who has seen a shift in her sex drive as the weeks have gone on. At first, being stuck inside with her partner felt like a snow day, she tells Bustle. "We were intimate during the day and sometimes again at night," she says.
But as the novelty wore off, and the pandemic-induced anxiety set in, their routine began to change. "As time has gone on, I think the stress of not knowing if we will have work the next week or even the next day, worrying about our family’s health, and hearing about friends getting sick or losing their jobs has halted intimacy," Andrea says.
Whether you're sheltered alone or with a partner, single or in a relationship, your sex drive might be fluctuating alongside your mood. But don't worry if yours has plummeted. "Focus on your own well-being and look for ways to maintain connections aside from sex," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D., sexologist, relationship expert, author, and We-Vibe Sex Expert, tells Bustle. "All responses are perfectly valid."
Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD, clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and host of the Confessions Of A Sex Therapist podcast
Dr. Jess O'Reilly, PhD, sexologist, relationship expert, author, and We-Vibe Sex Expert