Our lives, as we know them, have experienced a shift to unknown grounds. We have – all of a sudden – witnessed a change in our realities, immobilizing and destabilizing our daily rituals, what we know as normal, and our patterns at work and at home.
Our ability to respond to overwhelming chaos and crisis is directly proportionate to our ability to stay connected to ourselves, our bodies and our loved ones. Sex and intimacy can experience a major shift, during lockdown and after it, as the effects of crisis on us can linger on for quite some time.
Sex and libido are very tricky to handle as people respond to crisis in different ways. A crisis calls for a new set of emotions, caused by higher levels of stress and the state of survival mode, including anxiety, grief and worry. Scientific research has proven that, while a great number of people experience an increase in libido during a stressful crisis, a larger number of people experience the opposite. In fact, research has shown that crisis directly affects the libido, causing a decrease in desire and arousal to a higher risk of potential sexual dysfunctions.
As the world changes, a new set of logistics and ‘normal’ introduce couples to a new set of factors that have not been experienced before. The current crisis also includes new elements; living under one roof with other family members including parents, siblings or children. The difference here is that people are not going out, schools have been closed and people are now forced to work from home.
Our lives have been diffused into one confined area. What we used to consider as our private lives is now fully exposed to our work life and colleagues, combining all of our life’s aspects into one. It can be hard to differentiate and disconnect both worlds at this point. When a couple ends up doing everything under one roof, it becomes quite challenging to create a safe space for sexual intimacy and exploration.
What we used to consider as our private lives is now fully exposed to our work life and colleagues, combining all of our life’s aspects into one
In order to help our libido, we need to work on our emotional state first as separate individuals, and all the emotional highs and lows that have been experienced during these stressful times. It is recommended we cultivate and maintain a relationship with ourselves before and while we maneuver our relationships. Blocking emotions, pushing them aside and ignoring them might seem like an easier option, however it stops us from connecting to ourselves and to others. This includes understanding when you need to take breaks and checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling.
Never have relationships been more important for providing a sense of safety, intimacy, and connection. Relationships are hard work as it is. And right now, your brain could be focusing on stress, rather than connecting with your partner, let alone sex. When your mind is overthinking, filled with stress and worry, you are less turned on in your body, less creative and less playful.
Make more effort as a couple to tune out and tune in to each other. Schedule a date night even if you’re locked in. If you have children at home, try to create time for you both together, as hard as it can be with the lack of privacy.
Listen to music and dance together, take bubble baths together, dress up for a date at home, or even play pretend with each other
Be a lot more playful. Listen to music and dance together, take bubble baths together, dress up for a date at home, or even play pretend with each other. Get creative and use your imagination.
This historical shift can be a test for us to reassess our lives, how we’ve been living, and how we’ve been conducting our relationships. We, at the end of the day, are learning how to adapt to change, reconnect with ourselves and loved ones, and are learning how to breathe. We are surviving. This experience has humbled us. And remember, whatever you are going through is only understandable, don’t pressure yourself into doing anything but surviving. This too shall pass.
MS, MFT-Couples and sex Therapist. www.danasarhan.com