Love in a Corona climate
Confinement and stress can make even the most rock-solid of relationships creak. Here's our expert guide on how to keep love (and lust) going.
Anyone else hankering after their pre-Covid love life, when relationships seemed much more straightforward?
Relationships are complex, and they can be hard to navigate at the best of times. But in this brave new socially distancing world, how do we make sure we’re fanning erotic sparks, and not angry flames.
Here, Muddy talks to three experts in intimacy – a TV doctor, one of the UK’s leading psychotherapists and a New York sexologist (err, cool job alert) for the lowdown on spicing up, or just surviving, love in lockdown.
1. Dr Dawn Harper, an author and medic, is the TV doctor for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Born Naughty and This Morning.
Missing the intimacy
If you and your partner used to snatch secret moments together when the kids were out and are now finding that there is just no privacy, it’s important to remember this won’t go on forever.
I’m a firm believer that it’s good for young people to see their parents being affectionate, so whilst you may not want them to watch you swinging from the chandelier, a cuddle on the sofa is a good thing.
Be prepared to get some mocking if your kids are teenagers though! It is important to remember that as parents there are two intricately entwined relationships that go on in your family – your relationship with your partner and your relationship with your family.
And talking to each other is key. Explain to your partner about how you feel and explore new ways of showing each other that you care. A little note on the pillow can mean the world.
Libido is complex and it is normal to notice a drop in your sex drive in times of emotional stress like this. The good news is that we won’t be in this situation forever.
For a relationship to work, both parties need to feel loved, valued and respected – something we all need more of now with the stresses of Covid. If you can, try to do something to make your partner smile everyday and you will come out of this time with a stronger relationship.
Dealing with an unhappy relationship
Some people were living in less than perfect relationships before lockdown, and having to spend weeks in each other’s undiluted company may be causing frictions.
Sadly, it is inevitable that we may see a spike in divorces as we come out of this crisis. If you find yourself in this scenario, try to talk to each other. Perhaps explore the option of exercising at different times of the day. Make a list of the things that irritate you about each other and try to work out small steps that you could both take to make life easier for you.
Try to break up each part of the day up so that you both have some space and make sure you keep in touch with people you would normally rely on for your emotional support.
2. Nick Davies is a leading UK psychotherapist and hypnotherapist.
Finding the space to be intimate
During lockdown it can feel like your whole world is closing in, and maybe you feel you can’t find the space to get quality ‘alone time’ with your partner. But there are ways we can change the way we think about quarantine.
Remember going on holiday where you managed to find enough time to steal those intimate moments despite living on top of each other in one room?
Well, that was because you associate holidays with fun and your expectations were that you’d be living in a small space and had to spend lots of time by the pool or on the beach.
Take some time out for yourself, close your eyes and imagine you’re on an imaginary holiday in lockdown. Make some changes to your bedroom to make it different and more romantic. Have fun with it.
The more creative you both can be the richer and better experiences you’ll have. Playing a bit of make-believe can be vital at the moment for relationships.
Don’t want to be intimate?
During these testing times, your partner’s small habits and mannerisms can really take their toll. So what can you do?
Communication is key. Make sure your partner is relaxed before you talk to them so the messages can be received as you intended. Explain how you feeling, and even that you love them and want things to work (if that is the case) but for that to happen you need some space in order to allow the relationship to ‘breathe’.
3. Megwyn White, a certified clinical sexologist and director of education at Satisfyer in New York gives us her tips.
Lusting after lockdown love
Intimacy during this time can feel difficult to maintain, but there are lots of ways to have a healthy sex life still. If it’s realistic (ie, there are no children around!), think about utilising spaces in your house where you wouldn’t normally. Different rooms, like the bathroom, can be sensual.
Send your partner sexy voice memos during the day, so that they can feel the closeness of being with you. Good sex stems from a sense of togetherness.
If you do have kids at home, work around the family’s natural sleep patterns to connect physically. But take the pressure off ‘having to’ be intimate, instead take time to touch or stroke each other when you are watching TV or having dinner for example.
And finally, our six-step Muddy checklist to relationship resilience in lockdown…
- Accept these circumstances are going to be testing
- Try to put big arguments on hold
- Don’t make assumptions about how your partner feels
- Ensure it’s not all homeschool or WFH – set aside time for each other every day
- Keep communicating
- Don’t be afraid to seek advice or get professional help (lots available online)