5 min read
by Cristina Schreil | 05/06/2020
You know what really gets me turned on? Um, *not* being in a global pandemic. Not having to self-isolate. And, definitely not my dwindling hand sanitizer supply.
Whatever your relationship status, you, like many, might be reevaluating what sex means to you in this age of quarantine. Especially if you are sheltering-in-place alone—apart from partners or not—chances are you’ve had to shift a little with your sexual wellness. Maybe you’re dealing with having to masturbate more than before. Or, you’re stalled by how much you miss being intimate with others. Or, you’re too anxious.
You’re not the only one.
“People are experiencing their sexuality in many different ways during COVID-19,” says Matie Fricker, sex educator and owner of SelfServeToys.com in Albuquerque, NM. “Some people's sex drives are through the roof and the comfort of sex, intimacy and masturbation are one of their primary coping strategies. Other folks feel shut down and unable to be present in their bodies.”
For those isolating solo, there’s more challenges, says Fricker. “Others are feeling the ache of skin hunger and deep loneliness of isolation and are unable to connect with people through touch because of social distancing or lack of intimate partners.” Fricker owns one of many businesses across the country offering pandemic-specific resources and love-and-sex classes during this time.
Teaching one of those classes is Dirty Lola, a sex educator based in Brooklyn, NY. “You’re seeing yourself regularly now!” she says. Self-isolating brings opportunities for self-care, too.
Below, Dirty Lola offers more tips for feeling sexy — even when you’re feeling anything but.
Let’s be real — how often do we turn to masturbation with the same mindset as having a *quickie*, either to let off some steam or to sleep? It’s totally valid if these practical, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am approaches often ground your relationship to self-pleasure. But, especially now in these uncertain times, Dirty Lola advises looking at masturbation in a new light.
“I’ve always supported masturbation as being special,” she says. “I like setting the mood, even if it’s for yourself.”
Don’t think you need at least another person there to get romantic. Pull back the covers, light some incense. Queue up Sade. Draw a bath and light candles. Wear fabrics that are soft or glide across your skin. Play porn that you know pushes your buttons.
“Get your erotic juices flowing,” adds Dirty Lola. “Spend some time with yourself.”
It’s about reframing masturbation as ~sensual~. “Put on something sexy, even if it’s a really sexy pair of panties. Anything that makes you feel sultry,” says Dirty Lola.
There’s been surging sex toy sales in the United States thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have the means, this might be the time to treat yo’self to that vibrator you’ve had your eye on, or that rotating clitoral stimulator you keep adding to your virtual shopping cart before removing it again for the tenth time (I see you).
Butou don’t have to shell out cash to recapture a fresh, flirty mood with sex toys. Reassess your relationship with what you already have. “I’ve been going through what I have and recalibrating with them,” Dirty Lola explains.
Do you have a larger collection at your disposal but just tend to use one as your trusty go-to for masturbation? (Cue: those poor neglected vibrators at the back of the drawer.) Consider the toys you only use with partners and use them on yourself. Get creative. If you’re into kink, Dirty Lola offers, don those nipple clamps before doing the dishes.
If you’re partnered and can’t be together physically, technology is on your side. “Phone sex is amazing during times like this,” says Dirty Lola. It’s a way to feel alive and connected in the moment. It’s also more transporting than ever.
“Even if you have a crap imagination, I think we all have a really deep yearning to do the things we used to do,” she says. To start, recall together the kinds of dates you used to go on. Harness your memories of pre-COVID life to brighten your fantasy.
New to phone sex or sexting? Remain calm, Dirty Lola advises. “It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be the sexiest thing ever, you’ll find your rhythm.” The simplest way to start is asking the question: What would I do to this person? Take it from there. “It doesn’t have to sound like the next great American novel. Just walk through the steps of what you want to do: ‘I’m going to kiss your neck and then I’m going to wrap my arms around you and then…’” Dirty Lola says.
If you’re shy about declaring what you’d do to your partner, reorient the narrative: Say what you want done. “You’re just talking about what you like,” says Dirty Lola.
What to do if you can’t get into a red-hot mood because of COVID-19 anxiety?
Dirty Lola offers some ways to reframe self-love other than thinking you should be masturbating. “Maybe it’s not about orgasms but it’s about intimacy.” It doesn’t have to be porn-caliber erotic to give yourself some sexy self-care.
If you’re finding that what you really miss is romance and intimacy—going out to dinner, picnic dates in the park, or the feeling of getting swept off your feet—see if you can lean into those fantasies instead of pushing them away, says Dirty Lola. It’s okay to miss romance and still not feel like being sexual.
For example, find ways to plunge into more passionate fantasy worlds. Watch lovey-dovey movies or read romance novels. Set the mood and make it special—candles and Sade, galore—but don’t pressure yourself to get off. Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself feel how you feel. It’s what we owe ourselves — pandemic or not.
Cristina Schreil is a journalist, content writer, and author covering health, arts, and culture. You can also follow her on Instagram.
by Cristina Schreil