Sexual intimacy takes hit from Covid-19 pandemic

Friday, July 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Sexual intimacy takes hit from Covid-19 pandemic.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

Love has three major components; passion, commitment and intimacy.  For a healthy relationship that would be functional, the three must be incorporated.

Thus Covid-19 social distance guidelines have definitely interfered with these connections. Sexual patterns were abruptly interfered with. 

A recent survey by Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, US, showed that as coronavirus-related restrictions became more widespread, the popular media began reporting on putative shifts in sexual behaviour, pointing to a rise in online pornography searches, sex toy sales, dating app downloads, and erotic posts on social media. 

According to the survey, many participants (43.5 per cent) reported a decline in the quality of their sex life, with the remainder reporting that it either stayed the same (42.8 per cent) or improved (13.6 per cent).

Pauline Rukia counts herself among those whose sex life has declined. The 32-year-old business woman has not been in a stable relationship for nearly three years, but this has never interfered with her sexual life before. 

“I hate commitments, but I love sex. So, I sometimes have the one night stands when I go out to party and I meet someone I like. 

Better be safe

 “You don’t have to be in a relationship to have sex. But now I haven’t had sex for months! Since April.

Honestly, that energy inside me nearly made me sick, but I am slowly coming out from it.

I can’t risk, it is better to be safe than sorry. I am considering commitment though. It would be nice to have someone,” she says. 

Twenty-seven-year-old IT expert Stanley Warui got transferred from Nairobi to Mombasa for work.

This shift posed a challenge to his relationship since he was used to seeing his girlfriend who works in Nairobi, every single day. 

“The distance has been worsened by coronavirus. I took the chance to travel when the lockdown on counties was lifted. It was worth the risk, but the truth is it’s almost like our sexual life is dying. 

New additions

We do chat on SMS and phone calls, romantic chats, but you can’t really compare that to physical bonding.

We have been sexting and such, but honestly, everything has just become boring. We are both working so, we are keeping ourselves busy.

I can’t wait for the pandemic to pass so that I can spend more time with her—that is if we will still be together,” shares Stanley. 

They now have video calls, once in a while, something that they had not been doing before.

According to the Kinsey Institute survey, approximately one in five participants (20.3 per cent) reported making a new addition to their sex life since the pandemic began. 

Most (62.7 per cent) reported making one new addition, with 18.4 per cent making two, seven per cent making three, and 12 per cent making four or more.

The most common new additions included trying new sexual positions, sexting, sending nude photos, sharing sexual fantasies, watching pornography, searching for sex-related information online, having cybersex, filming oneself masturbating, and acting on sexual fantasies.

“This pattern, consistent with the overall integration of the Internet and digital platforms into people’s sexual lives suggests that when opportunities for the pursuit of in-person, partnered sex are limited, online and solo activities may be used to fill the void,” stated the report.

But for 28-year-old bank accountant, Asha Cassidy, the pandemic has been a great eye opener to her sexual life.

She has completely dropped sex in exchange for celibacy. “For me, lockdown has been totally different. I got rid of all my situations.

I realised I have been doing it all wrong and decided to take a break from dating. I vowed to be celibate in April.

The lockdown made me see that I was getting into situationships with the right intention, but not speaking up, just going with the flow till that person acts right or treats me right.

It never worked out well for me, so I decided to be celibate to bring me closer to God and remove sex out of the equation because I noticed without the sex, I never really knew those people. I got very honest with myself and that was it,” says the accountant. 

Relationships take a lot of work and hence we can never be masters  without putting a lot of effort.

In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Relationship counsellor Raymond Mwaura shares that Covid-19 has affected many aspect of our lives including finance and relationships. 

And since romance and finance are connected in a way, Mwaura says this has affected how couples relate.

“Even for those in marriage, it has not  been easier. Covid-19 has caused strain to intimacy, be it through social distancing, reduced finances, among others,” he says.

Couples should learn to share love in and out of season. “Therefore, communication with each other and sharing what is going on within each other context should be frequent and nothing should be left hanging. Honesty and clarity should be a priority. 

Sticking together

Communication can be done through Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp and if possible video chat where sweet nothings for appreciation should be verbalised continuously,” he says.

“Gifts should be sent through parcels or riders. Distance should not destroy relationships — it’s lack of fondness and admiration that destroys connections as mostly when couples are in difficult moments, mistrust and conflict tend to arise.

It is important for couples to share special messages that build each other, especially looking forward to shared meaning and objective of the relationship,” says the expert.   

Couples, Mwaura says should structure a regular time of calling and sharing their intimate struggles and wishes.

That Covid-19 has negatively affected a couple’s sex life should be one of those ‘for worse’ moments that they vowed should not separate them.

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