COVID-19 is dramatically changing the way people share intimacy and date. This is affecting a lot of people, particularly single people who are dating or seeking new partners, people who are in established relationships who don’t live together, people who live together but don’t want to share germs, and polyamorous people, who may live with some partners but not others.
Everybody needs to make their own decisions about who’s going to be in their germ-sharing family group. For instance, partners who live together might decide that, since they have contact with one another all the time and share germs, it’s very likely that if one of them gets sick, the other will get sick too, and they decide to accept that possibility. Other people may decide that they want to maintain some germ distance even in their home, which requires wearing a mask, wearing gloves, and doing lots of sanitizing.
People in that position will also have to reconsider any kind of sustained intimate contact, like kissing or face-to-face close conversations. COVID-19 is spread through droplets from your nose and mouth as you breathe, whether that’s by breathing in someone else’s droplets or by touching a surface they touched after touching their face. That means that, even though COVID is not a sexually-transmitted disease, sex is one way for it to be transmitted, sex is usually a close encounter, often face-to-face, and sustained for a long enough period of time in which you’re sharing your little bubble of germs and breath. On top of that, during sex, your respiration increases (along with your heart rate and other functions associated with arousal), which may mean that you’re releasing more germs.
The question that I’ve been getting a lot lately is “How the heck do I date, and what do I do about my sex life?” I’ve also been hearing, “What do I do with my polyamorous relationships, since I don’t cohabit with some of my partners, and I’m socially distanced from them?”
In a word, I would say self-pleasure. Self-pleasure is a very, very safe way to have sex, regardless of what disease you’re trying to avoid transmitting or contracting. This is a great time to really ramp up your own erotic connection with yourself. What seems hot? What would you enjoy? You can have a very luxurious, leisurely, fabulous self-pleasure session, and this is a great time to explore that entire aspect of your eroticism.
It’s also a great time to use technology. How about some sexting, or sexy texting? How about some FaceTime dates or Skype dates? Obviously, privacy is a concern, but if you feel comfortable with the privacy of cybersex or sexting, we do have the technology in place for you to have a date remotely.
In fact, right now, a FaceTime date may even feel more intimate than any way you could safely be in the same physical space with a partner who isn’t part of your circle. That’s because, if someone comes over to your house now, they’re going to have to wash their hands, you’re going to have to stay at least six feet apart, and you might want to face different directions so your breath goes different directions. You also will probably want to wear masks and gloves. Sounds sexy, right?
But when you’re on a video call, you’re face-to-face, close to your screens, and that means you can have a more intimate-feeling conversation. You can feel very close, without the risk of sharing germs. As we move into this difficult time, during which we have to relate to our loved ones differently than we normally would, we’re starting to notice that there is a kind of intimacy you can have in a video chat that is hard to achieve in person right now. Rather than trying to figure out how you can be intimate physically in the same space, how about being intimate physically in separate spaces, using technology?
I’m going to keep writing and vlogging about the impact of COVID-19 on our intimate relationships, and I will talk more in a future post about specific concerns for people who are in open relationships. In the meantime, feel free to send me your questions about intimacy in the era of COVID-19!