Spring is finally springing, the vaccines are rolling out, but in many places lockdowns are still in place and people’s sex drives are plunging. The last year has been tough for most. At first many thought that working from home would increase their libido – in allowing much more time for intimacy and opportunity for ‘afternoon delight’. Sex toy sales boomed. Ann Summers initially reported a 160% uptick in purchases of its premium sex toys – with many being first time buyers.
People, it seemed, were using the new situation to try out new things with partners or solo. It looked like there would be a baby boom as a result of all this extra sex. Actually, it turned out to go the other way.
Probably it is the singles who are suffering the most – with lockdown and social distancing rules making it virtually impossible to meet up with romantic partners, let alone get together with new ones. Sales of quieter vibrators, particularly, shot up. That was thought to be by singles isolated from sex partners and living with parents or being in lockdown with flatmates.
Somehow the sheer monotony of having to do everything in the confines of the same space was an enthusiasm killer for almost everything. Only the most dedicated wrote that novel, learnt a new language or took up new hobbies. And studies show that the majority of people felt a significant decline in their sex drive, too.
People began to realize that having to work their jobs remotely from home, and juggle those with keeping house and making more meals, resulted in endless groundhog days. And, for those with kids, the actuality of 24/7 childcare and home schooling became simply exhausting. Anxieties about family potentially contracting the virus, threats to jobs and livelihood, and lack of access to medical treatments all added to feelings of stress and anxiety.
Most found that their previous normal life – allowing a daily change of scene by going off to work and meeting others in their jobs and socially – had been hugely significant in enriching their whole outlook on life. Variety is the spice of life. Lockdown monotony became a familiarity that really did breed contempt. Many relationships that weren’t perfect but had manageable little cracks now began to break asunder.
So, do we just accept that a decline in the health of our relationships – and in the power of our sex drive – is just another casualty of the pandemic? Do we hunker down, weather it out and hope to emerge in reasonable shape when it’s over? Or can we do something about it?
The first thing is to check whether other factors beyond the pandemic are causing low libido. Check if medications are impacting your or your partner’s sex drive. Do you know that common types of antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Prozac (SSRIs), are well known to diminish interest in sex and trigger problems with arousal? On the other hand, depression itself can make it tough to enjoy sex, as can stress. During the pandemic many have noticed their stress levels have gone significantly higher.
Being on lockdown has also led to excessive drinking in many people and greater use of recreational drugs. Whilst reasonable levels of either can help you relax and even increase one’s friskiness, too much of either will have a negative effect on sex drive.
Sex is a very important part of an intimate relationship – and letting it wane can lead to frustration, resentment and guilt. Low libido is bad for your outlook on life, and sex drive discrepancies – though bound to happen occasionally – can be destructive if allowed to continue and fester. Certainly you shouldn’t be pressuring your partner into having sex – nor be the one feeling pressured. Here, communication is the key to help you and your partner understand each other’s feelings and work together to address those.
If there is a significant issue of the discrepancy between you and your partner’s sex drive, you could reap major rewards in enhancing your relationship and making your sex life so much more fulfilling by addressing this with your partner and working towards closing this gap with them. There is further information on this in our article on Lost Libido.
Variety in your sex life
Try and break out of the monotony that lockdowns are putting on our lives. Boredom in life can overflow into boredom with sex and relationships. It is possible that your libido is dropping because sex has become too predictable. Take the pressure off sex and performing and change the focus onto having fun and enjoying exploration.
It may be best not to go for major changes too swiftly but look for ways to mix things up gradually. Enjoy a meal or wine in bed. Take a shower or bathe together. Learn to give each other erotic massages and respond to what they find particularly arousing. Use scented body oils or different textures – feathers, fur or velvet. Create a sensual atmosphere with smooth music and atmospheric lighting.
Watch sensual videos together (avoiding hardcore porn, unless you’re both into that). The Lovers’ Guide: Sex Play provides a wealth of foreplay ideas and techniques for couples to engage in together. Read an erotic story to one another – try Women On Top and Men In Love by Nancy Friday, which are crammed with fantasies and can be a great springboard to discussing your own. Use fantasies and daydreams to discover new kinds of sexual activity you might both be happy to explore.
Ring the changes. If you usually make love in the dark, leave the lights on – or better, light some candles. Try making love somewhere other than the bed – on the stairs, on a sofa, chair or a rug, or even outdoors, if you have a private garden. Break out of the two or three sex positions most people stick to for their entire lives – The Lovers’ Guide: Sexual Positions has over fifty for you to try.
Females can try vibrators either alone – or, if confident enough, by incorporating them into lovemaking. Have fun shopping online together for other things you might want to try – cock rings, butt plugs, nipple clamps, paddles, anal beads, ben wah balls etc. The sales of all sorts of kinky gear went up in the wake of Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Solo men may want to go beyond taking things into their own hands and try something like the Fleshlight – available in our toys store – or other toys specially designed to stimulate their penis or anus.
Find ways to discuss your sexual needs and desires. Hold yourself back from rejecting a partner’s suggestions out of hand. Think things over and discuss them. This will give you time to get used to the idea and see if you can overcome any inhibitions you may have, especially if it is something very new or unconventional.
Sex and mindfulness
In the end, though, if you find that novel sexual activities only add a little short term spice – take a deeper look at the strong bonds in the relationship you have. Knowing each other as you do, relish how relaxed you can be with one another. Prolonged lovemaking should be much easier than in the heady over-excited times of a new relationship. Be mindful when making love – that means making sure you are strongly present in the moment and allowing yourself to focus fully on all the physical joys and sensations of loving intimacy.
Don’t forget that lovemaking is a two way process in all truly fulfilling sexual activity. Don’t let yours fall into a downward spiral. Encourage feedback from your partner on the pleasure you give them – and they give you. The more you can help them enjoy sex to the full with you the more they will want you to be satisfied and fulfilled. This is true of life in general – not just times when we are trapped together day in and day out.