How is the pandemic affecting you sexually? Whatever is going on with you, there are millions of others in the same boat. And from what I’m seeing in my office these days, there is a tremendous variation in how the age of the coronavirus is affecting people sexually,.
In one case, I find myself envying a young patient for whom the pandemic is a romantic and sexual bonanza. He is in the process of taking a friendship with a woman he already knows, loves, and is emotionally intimate with and transforming it into a romantic, passionate, sexual relationship.
The “working from home” routine gives this young couple more time than ever to be together. Where some of us are going insane with boredom, being trapped in our houses or apartments with no place to go, for these two being stuck together is total bliss.
It reminds me of an episode from long ago when I was first in love with my late husband. He lived in Boston, and I lived in Cambridge. It was a frigid, blustery, snowy day that was too dangerous to drive because you could barely see. There were several inches of snow on the ground and the forecast was for a foot or more.
I was gingerly walking through Harvard Square, trying not to fall and crack my head open on the slushy sidewalk. I struck up a conversation with a much older woman. She said that it was a terrible day.
I said, “Oh, it’s kind of pretty out.”
“You must be in love,” she replied.
I told her that indeed, I was. Then, reflecting on what had just happened, I got into a cab and rode over to his house, to be happily holed up with him for the several days that it would take for the storm to pass.
So for the lovebirds out there (of any age), the coronavirus has a silver lining. A woman I met in New Zealand this March suggested that the generation of children spawned now should be called the Coronnials.
For people who use sex compulsively to soothe themselves when they are upset, there is a lot of solo sex going on. If you notice this pattern in yourself and you are growing worried about it, I suggest you read Larry and Wendy Maltz’s wonderful book The Porn Trap.
For the women who are pre-orgasmic and motivated to tackle this issue, the free time might be a great opportunity to learn how to finally bring yourself to orgasm. This is what one of my patients succeeded in doing recently, and she is jubilant. She emailed me a simple message: “SUCCESS!!!” She will remember these days as a time of sexual breakthrough and as the point in her sexual development when she finally felt normal.
For what will probably the largest proportion of us, the pandemic is creating sexual dysfunction. The most frequent psychosocial contributors to sexual problems at any time are (1) anxiety, (2) stress, (3) inadequate information about sexuality, and (4) failures of communication.
In addition, depression is a major source of lack of desire. Because most of us are quite anxious and stressed by the financial and health consequences of the economic shutdown and the virus, and most of us are depressed by the inability to enjoy the things that usually make life joyful, the pandemic is a huge sexual downer. We might have the time to be sexual, because there isn’t much else to do, but we just don’t feel like it.
So if this is how you are feeling, I totally get it.
Let’s all just try to be kind to each other, to be responsible toward others who might be more vulnerable to falling ill than we are, and to access whatever people, activities, or things that we still can still experience and enjoy that make us feel soothed and safe.
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