Stress Levels Are Raised
At the start of lockdown 1.0, headlines about a quarantine-induced baby boom were ubiquitous as we believed everyone was jumping into bed with each other. Fast-forward nearly a year and the statistics show quite the opposite trend. The reason our sex drives have dwindled is fairly simple, explains Kate Moyle, sex and relationships expert for LELO UK. “Stress can impact your sex life in a number of ways, both when the stress is directly about sex, and indirectly when stress from other parts of your life shows up in the bedroom. High levels of stress mean we find ourselves more easily distracted, and may experience more negative thought patterns, and this can in turn impact how you exercise, eat and sleep.” Kate explains that our sexual wellbeing is a pillar of our health but one that is often ignored. If you ignore these elements of your wellbeing, this can have a knock-on effect on your libido, she says. Plus, when you are stressed, your body is in fight or flight mode, which can also affect your sex drive, explains relationship counsellor Mig Bennett. “When your body is in this state, your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure increase, and non-essential functions, like digestion and sex drive, are acutely diminished. In a nutshell, when you’re stressed, your sexual switch is turned off,” she says.
The Monotony Of Lockdown Life Is Taking A Toll
The pandemic may be keeping us at home, but it’s also keeping us out of the bedroom. “At the moment, there is a lack of new excitement and things that may usually promote desire, such as quality time with your partner or going out, aren’t happening,” says Kate. In short, it’s this monotony of lockdown life that’s taking its toll on your sex drive. Think of it this way – in our pre-pandemic lives, you’d be heading to the office, having all kinds of interesting experiences throughout the day, and then bringing those home with you, which sparks conversation and connection, which can in turn, lead to sex. Plus, experiencing various emotions and environments is mentally stimulating, which can put you in the mindset to be turned on. Kate also explains that a lack of environmental stimulus also means we’re less likely to be in the mood. “A shift in context can be really helpful for your sex life – think about when you’re on holiday, for example, when you tend to have more sex. But this shift in context is harder to achieve when you’re constantly in the same place.”
You’re Playing Multiple Roles
In between being a colleague, parent, teacher, friend and partner, we’re juggling more plates than ever. “What this creates is a challenge in separating out our roles that didn’t exist before,” explains Kate. “At the moment, many of us feel like there is no off-switch and no ‘me-time’. Very few of our relationships were designed to be set up in the way we are currently experiencing them. In fact, relationships experts have always talked about getting your needs met by multiple relationships such as those with friends and family members so that we aren’t constantly demanding our partner to meet every role, but with the current situation this is impossible.” Plus, as Mig adds, when we play out these different roles, the role of the ‘lover’ often comes last. “When couples tell me they’ve had a busy week, this is usually down to misplaced priorities. Yes, home schooling, for example, is important, but is it more or less important than your relationship? Couples will very likely better tackle the issues that ‘busy’ them if they find space for connection. Scheduling and planning sex and intimacy can really help in this context,” she advises.
There’s No Privacy
Whether you’re stuck at home with family, friends or housemates, it’s harder than ever to escape your own four walls, meaning finding both the physical and emotional space for sex can be tricky. “Our space is suddenly the space where everything happens – parenting, working, workouts, laundry and sleep, none of which are desire boosters,” says Kate. “We often feel turned on when we feel good about ourselves but there are considerably less opportunities for this at the moment. If you are playing multiple roles in the same physical space, it’s likely you’re having little quality time, so earmark time for that – go screen free and give each other your full attention.” If privacy is an issue for you, Kate also recommends being open to doing things a little differently. “The times we live in mean we need to be more adaptive with our sex lives, and that may mean thinking about your windows of opportunity for intimacy a little more consciously. For example, spend some time as a couple as soon as the kids go to sleep, before you have dinner rather than leaving it until the end of the night; or squeeze in a quickie while your housemate goes to the supermarket.”
You’re Feeling Stuck
With life seemingly on hold, it’s easy to feel frustrated, which Kate says can have a ripple effect on what’s going on in the bedroom. “Many of us are experiencing a lack of direction at the moment and are feeling stuck and unmotivated. Without the usual motivational factors to stimulate you, it’s no wonder many of us are in a rut with sex. Just like you can get into the habit of not doing as much exercise as you used to, your sex life can also settle into a routine. Not having sex can become as much of a habit as regularly having sex, and you may notice that a few weeks or even a month slip by without you realising.” Kate’s top tip? “Don’t be passive about your sex life – do something about it as things just don’t sort themselves out. Your sex life needs time and attention just like everything else.”
Here, the experts share their tips for getting your sex life back on track and out of the quarantine slump…
Create More Opportunities
“Reach out to each other more – whether it’s a hug that lasts ten seconds in the kitchen when you grab a coffee, or a five-second kiss in the morning. Allow your touch to last a bit longer and do it with intention. If you’re in a sex slump, it can be easy to pull away from these types of intimacy as we think it’ll always lead to sex. However, intentionally making physical intimacy not about sex can help you connect and feel closer.” – Kate
Talk About It
“If your sex life feels akin to a barren desert, the most important thing to do is talk about it. If sex isn’t happening that’s not so much of a problem, but not talking about it is. If you feel it’s an elephant in the room, get help. Getting couples to talk about sex in their relationship is a huge part of my work and it really does generate results.” – Mig
Take Time For Intimacy
“Early in a relationship, our brains are highly erotically charged and thus switched on to sex. However, as the normal world of unloading dishwashers, school homework battles and sorting the dinner take over, this erotic charge dwindles. Putting time aside for intimate moments – whether that’s a massage session, showering together or your favourite takeaway – gives the brain, particularly the female brain, time to become sexually switched-on again.” – Mig
Have Early Nights
“Focus on going to be bed early to talk, kiss and touch. Think of it as melting from sensuality into sexuality, rather than going from a cold start. Run each other a bath, or have an hour each to yourselves – all of these things contribute to us feeling happier in a relationship.” – Kate
Use Positive Language
“When speaking to your partner about sex, try not to blame them or direct your feelings at them. Instead, phrase it as something you want to do together, something that will benefit your relationship and connection. Treat it as an opportunity to invite each other to try something new – talk about what you might be interested in trying. Remember changes don’t have to be big, sometimes it can be changing just one small thing that can really make the difference.” – Kate
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