How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Impacting the Intimate Lives of Couples and Singles

No doubt about it, the last few months have been incredibly stressful for most Americans.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on almost every aspect of daily life, forcing millions of people out of work while those who are still on the clock have to balance getting the job done from home while tutoring the kids, cooking daily meals, cleaning and trying to maintain their sanity. Everyone's worried about their financial future, and so much time indoors has cabin fever at an all-time high. Meanwhile, more than a million people have contracted COVID-19, and thousands have lost their lives to the virus.

With so much chaos surrounding us, who really has the wherewithal to get in the mood?

There is nothing less sexy than singles risking their health for a romp with a potential suitor right now, and after more than 40 days at home together, it's very possible that the fire has burned out between couples.

Yes, on top of everything else that's wrong with the world, the coronavirus has even had an effect on our sex lives.

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"Sex life? What's that?" Torie J. Anderson told Newsweek recently.

The teacher and author is currently self-quarantining with her fiancé at home in Detroit, Michigan. Although shelter-in-place started out spicy hot for the couple, all these weeks later, Anderson admitted, the monotony of their day-to-day has tempered the flames.

"Every day is the same thing. Wake up. Eat. Watch TV. Eat. Take the dog out. Watch TV. Eat. Go to sleep. It's super depressing," Anderson said. "The most rewarding thing is that we get to spend time with each other, which was super hard prior to this because of our work schedules."

It's understandable. People get restless spending so much time at home, and the new normal of binging on Netflix and eating snacks has to do a number on the psyche. It'll take a lot more than just throwing on a pair of sweats and slumming it on the couch to stir up the hormones of the person who's bumming it out next to you. For Anderson, that meant having a heart to heart with her partner and taking action to revive their romantic lives inside the bedroom.

"We have both noticed a decline in our sex life from the start of the quarantine to now. We've settled into this daily routine. We aren't going out at all, which means I'm not getting dressed up. I don't feel sexy in my sweat pants or onesie. If I'm not feeling sexy or attractive, that makes me not want to have sex. Last week I made a conscious choice to change that," she explained. "So I've ordered several nonessential items from Amazon to get my mojo back because we are too young to be in a rut."

How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Sex Lives of Couples and Singles
Young millennials couple wearing protective face masks and kissing each other, virus spread prevention and people concept. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Of course, it's totally okay if your sex life has taken the backseat, considering the circumstances many people are facing in these times. Just because we are in lockdown doesn't necessarily mean we should be going for the sexual Olympics, according to Dr. Viviana Coles, a relationship and sex expert, and president of Houston Relationship Therapy in Texas, who you also may have seen advising newlyweds on Lifetime's Married at First Sight.

"This is a great time and opportunity for exploration when it comes to sexuality but it's also not the best time to feel pressured [about sexuality], because time, right now, is very convoluted," Coles told Newsweek. "I think we need to take the pressure off. There shouldn't be any sort of high expectations and sex goals during a pandemic. It's the time to go back to the basics. Learn about your anatomy. Learn about what feels good to you without time constraints."

As for the singletons, Coles suggested using all these moments alone for self-exploration.

"This is a chance to dust off any toys from your pleasure chest. You don't have anyone in the house with you? Explore that," she said. "Have your Naked Thursday on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. Bring out all the sexy lingerie. Wear something different every day. This is your chance to really get in touch with your sexy side. If you're feeling confident during self-quarantine, imagine how you'll feel when you're finally let loose. Sexual confidence is the sexiest thing. It's the most attractive thing to a potential partner. So use this chance to build your sexual IQ."

The age of social distancing is also a great time to really get to know your beloved.

Eleanor Campbell, a meetings coordinator in Alexandria, Virginia, only just started her new relationship right before the pandemic broke. She told Newsweek that they've been getting inventive in how they get to know each other, playing sexy games like strip putt-putt and finding new ways to keep each other entertained.

"The most challenging thing is probably making sure we don't get bored with each other," Campbell explained. "[There's] worry with a new relationship that this is almost like a make it or break it situation. It just makes us be more creative and, if anything, talk more, which is nice for any relationship."

For Lenell Dinkins, who lives separately from his girlfriend in Detroit, it's constant texting and FaceTiming.

"This virus has definitely altered how much we see each other, but we been making the best of it," he said, adding that they've had a few socially-distanced dates. "We've done drive-in [style] dates in the car and watched movies].

Communication is key during a time like this, Coles says. And whether you're shacked up, single or newly dating, social distancing and sheltering-in-place marks a prime opportunity for a sex-ed refresher and using brain stimulation as a means to connect with others and ourselves. "The brain is definitely the largest sex organ," Coles said.

The psychotherapist suggested doing mentally stimulating exercises like giving yourself—or a partner—an adult anatomy lesson or reading erotic literature out loud instead of zoning out on pornography.

"You don't want to spend too much time looking at visual porn because it can become problematic porn usage. It's a little bit safer for your mental health if you're reading erotic literature because it isn't a visual reward system, it's more about creating arousal and experiencing the sexual response cycle through your brain and through your body. What people love about erotic literature is that it teaches them a lot about foreplay. That's something that a lot of people just skip over these days, and that's a shame because we have so many different ways of experiencing pleasure."

However, Coles did issue a warning for those who were having the best sex of their lives and those experience droughts drier than a desert: Be mindful of using sex as a stress reliever while we don't have limitations or restraints on our daily lives at home. Misuse of sex could lead to compulsive behaviors.

"It's not a free for all right now," she said.

The doctor also advised those who were stressed out about non-sexual issues to focus on the anxieties of their brains before turning to sex.

"If you're experiencing depression, stress and anxiety symptoms, reach out. You don't need to go at it alone—that's not a sexy thing. We have to take care of our brains because, without our brains, it's very difficult to keep things going well in terms of pleasure, especially physical pleasure," Coles said.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Impacting the Intimate Lives of Couples and Singles | Culture