As a Psychosexual Therapist I know many people are struggling with the changes that the current situation brings to them. Many of you have been here before in life and have developed resilience and a personal recipe in the face of challenges. It is so important that you don’t confuse a feeling of being trapped by the COVID-19 situation with a feeling that you are trapped in your relationship. During a highly stressful time like this, people are prone to distorting how and what they really feel.
For many individuals now less, sex is a given. This is obviously the case for those self-isolating while single; the pandemic makes their sex lives too risky. For those whose partners are away or sick with the virus, there will be little choice. For some there is now the option of more sex. It will be different for everyone and every couple.
Some of the issues that this crisis may be raising…
Reduced sexual interest
There are many reasons, both physical and psychological.
Drugs such as anti-depressants have an impact on sexual interest and functioning, with or without, a Spinal Cord Injury. Many medications for pain, spasms, blood pressure, heart problems, and some neurological difficulties fall into this category. Psychological issues include depression and fears of failing and rejection.
Low sexual interest is a problem for many people with SCI and not easily accepted. Take time to talk more with your partner about what you want for the future.
The impact of stress
Not feeling in the mood is common during stressful times. In normal times carers visiting our homes can be stressful but more so when the carers are stressed too. Having children at home more than usual can add to stress, as can financial and job security worries. Fears about the health of parents and partners who are key workers can add to your stress levels.
For some people the experience may be entirely opposite. As anxiety and stress goes up, so does their libido, serving as a coping mechanism. Everyone is different.
Too much time together and a lack of personal space
In long-term relationships, it can be hard to keep the mystery alive. Now you may be at home for the majority of the time with few opportunities for independent activities or time apart. Feeling crowded may reduce your enthusiasm for intimacy. Stress can cause you to emphasize the negatives in a relationship and become more critical of your partner. Try to focus and comment on the positives. Let your partner or family know if you can’t do something right now. Explain that can’t give at the moment and need a little time and space to yourself.
Techniques to increase your sexual activity and have some fun
As adults we often lose our playful self and more so when we are worried. In therapy, I ask clients to become playful and to think about what they used to do, and what they are too scared to do. To eroticize your relationship you might have a romantic indoor date with your partner. Be creative and use your imagination! Write love notes, do some sexy text ping-pong! Change names, clothes, areas of the house. Change the script!
What if I’m single just now?
Use this time to channel your energy and explore yourself. If that is possible for you, it can be a wonderfully nourishing activity. I suggest slowing it down, think about the parts of your body you feel and the sensation of it. It can often be forgotten that if we’re craving touch, our own touch has a lot of value to it. Think about what you’re looking for. Use this time as an opportunity to explore other ways of engaging with new sexual partners that you can meet online, for instance.
Questions to think about and discuss with someone close
It’s a great time for enquiring about a partner / potential partner.
What is the importance of space to you? People value this differently.
What is the biggest challenge right now?
What have you recently discovered about yourself or your relationship?
How do you manage conflict? Acknowledge the distraction not the other person
How are you struggling?
What can I do that helps you today?
What advice might your older self tell your younger self?