How sex lives are changing due to coronavirus

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Sex relationship. Photo/Courtesy

While couples living together are having their relationships tested, many singles and those who can’t be with their significant others are experiencing loneliness, are sexually frustrated and long for intimacy. 

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra

“I’m lucky to be alive, but I don’t feel so human having gone without sex for almost three months,” Wallace Otieno says.

Wallace, a Nairobi resident, is in a committed relationship. But his fiancée lives and works in Naivasha.

The last time they were together was on Valentine’s Day. A month later, Covid-19 hit the country. Now they can’t visit each other because of lockdown. 

Dry spell, lonely and cold nights have characterised the lives of many during this corona pandemic.

And those who have been on self-isolation have been enduring weeks without human interaction- let alone intimacy and connection. 

For many, a sense of touch has become the rarest quarantine provision. Not knowing when they will be able to get back to hugging, cuddling or sharing a bed with someone makes the craving more acute. Some describe the lack of touch as its own sensory experience: A dull ache. 

“We’re mammals — we’re built to touch,” says Beatrice Nderitu, a sociologist. 

Rachael Kelli, who is currently in a new relationship, says they have been going through several challenges following the pandemic.

“We were just a few months into the relationship before the curfew and partial lock down.

With him in Murang’a and I in Nairobi, this relationship has been difficult because we can’t even see each other,” she says.

Left to oneself

Their only mode of communication in the past one month has been WhatsAapp video calls and unending calls that have not helped so much in bringing them together. 

Occasionally, they go the high school way of texting each other to sleep and anytime one fails to call the other, then chaos erupts. 

“I was hoping I would see him after the first 21 days that banned travel  between the city and other countieselapsed, but it seems like this will have to last a long time,” she laments.

Perhaps the ones who have been hard hit are mpango wa kandos, clandes, slay queens and baby mamas.

With men going back to their wives, dawn to dusk curfew and clubs and eateries closed, they are just left to themselves. 

“It’s the hard truth, but now I know my lane. My lover is a married man. The pandemic has dealt a big blow to our relationship.

We can’t meet. A few times, he has suggested we meet at a city lodging, but I’m afraid. What if the room is not well sanitised and I pick coronavirus?

As a single mother, who will take care of my baby? So I just developed cold feet and it’s not going on really well.

Now he can’t even send me money, because he says it’s my fault,” Mary Mwikali says.

Ken Ouko, a sociologist at University of Nairobi, says male machismo thrives best on the warped principle of variety that is propelled by what psychologists aptly refer to as Hunter’s Syndrome.

Therefore, when men suddenly find themselves unceremoniously hemmed in within a stiflingly restrictive domiciliary space, they are compelled to redirect their sexual energies towards the available singular, usually the wife or girlfriend.

In sum, the coronavirus has discourteously snuffed the life out of the Hunter’s Syndrome. 

“The coronavirus has come as the highly curative, but unapologetically uninvited prescription for monogamy.

It has become new cement and fresh coat of paint on the walls of the monogamy mansion.

For once, both female and male rovers of the cheat brigade have found themselves invariably grounded,” he says.

The UON don adds that contrary, the corona pandemic has unappealingly redecorated the sexual landscape for many non-stay couples.

Date-mates and casual sexual hitters have been forced to ventilate their understanding of horizontal dry-spells.

Overzealous parents are hawk-watching their daughters and the libidinously bubbly boys now have to contend with digitalised gratification such as ‘sexting’ or screen porn. Others have resulted to masturbation.

Mercy Washoke had contemplated getting into a relationship with a close neighbour, but after reports that coronavirus could be found in semen of infected men, everything came to a stand still.

“I mean, this thing is that lethal, I seriously wants us to just be socially, physically and even emotionally distant.

Now we just have to forget about developing feelings with random people because you just don’t know where they have been,” she says angrily.

But amidst all this, Kennedy Irungu says this has so far been the most traumatising experience of his life.

With so many bad news gracing TV screens, he just can’t think about sex. As an event planner, he has counted a fair share of losses and this has affected how he relates with his wife and children. 

“My mind has been clogged with so many thoughts of how life will be after all is over. This has affected me so much. The only thing in my mind currently is how and where I will get money,” he says.

Sex researchers and therapists acknowledge that it could go either way—whereas there are people who have been robbed of their sex life, there are those that the pandemic has affected their libido.

Sex therapist Piet Evert Van Altena says people react differently to the same situations; this means the factor can increase sexual desires in some and lower libido in others.

To overcome this, he suggests people understand it is a test to a relationship and how they are going to come out of it matters. 

He advises couples to come up with new hobbies. 

“Being sexually starved results to anger among couples and this is why you need to look for better ways to keep yourself distracted,” Piet advises.

Geoffrey Wango, a psychologist concurs. He adds that touch reduces stress. 

“It is normal to crave for intimacy, especially in these trying times that people are locked away from their partners. A sense of touch, therefore reduces stress,” he says.

He adds that this could also be trying moment for most people in relationships, and he believes that those who were doing well before the lockdown will understand each other more. But for those whose relationship was hitting rock bottom, they may struggle for a while.

However, he says  it is important to note that keeping in touch through video calls and constant check-up phone calls will help one feel closer to their partner. 

You can also look for other ways of self distraction and keeping yourself busy such as your job, if you are still working or doing anything constructive. 

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