Since January I have had both more and less sex due to COVID19.
I started 2020 anxiety-ridden. I shut away my sexuality in a box and was in a constant state of panic. However, a few weeks ago, I evolved from being a ball of anxiety to fucking my partner every chance I got.
It’s been one hell of a mindfuck, especially as it’s usually my physical health that gets in the way of sex.
Before I get into it my partner is almost annoyingly healthy, for example when I come down with a two week cold, he gets three days of sniffles. Whilst he is aware of his health for my sake, he’s pretty happy go lucky without anxiety for the most part.
Locked Away in a Box
For the first two weeks of February, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I could barely touch my partner, and sex was off completely the table. My brain continually kept getting in my way, and it would whisper to me all about germs. My brain would tell me that my partner has been outside and thus needed to shower before I could touch them, that all their clothes needed to go straight in the wash, and they had to work from home right now.
I dealt with these fears poorly. I didn’t tell my partner, and I bottled it all up because I thought I was losing my mind. I felt like I was losing my mind. Both my partner and I tried to initiate sex, but I would then break down in tears because I kept imagining his dick was full of COVID19. Yep, really. Now, I’m a rational person, or at least I try to be. Still, at that moment, the idea that he had gone to the toilet and his hand might have come in contact with someone’s germs then touched his dick, or his dick hit the toilet bowl was enough in my brain that it ultimately got in the way of any sexual thought. Never mind the fact my partner is already hyper-aware because I’m immunocompromised, but my brain had overloaded itself with internal fearmongering. My brain is sometimes a thing of wonder.
It took an overly long therapy session solely focusing on fear around COVID19 to bring myself back to a rocky baseline and to be able to focus on life outside the pandemic. I’d taken in so much news that COVID19 was my entire world when quite honestly, I have other shit to do. For example, Arousibility was meant to launch last month, but I got completely sidetracked by anxiety. I had even planned out numerous posts, but as I sat down to write them my brain would chime and tell me that you should be thinking about the virus and that my laptop hadn’t been disinfected properly. The fear was insidious.
After that therapy session, I made a concentrated effort to stay away from the news. I banned as many hashtags like head on Twitter, I stopped going on the homepages of Reddit, and I tried to tweet more from third-party services like Buffer. However, it is EVERYWHERE, so I keep trying to pull back from social media altogether. I keep failing, but I keep trying.
Full Speed Ahead!
Aside from therapy – which was basically one big mindfulness session and getting in touch with my real feelings, these are the steps we’ve both taken to reduce my anxiety, and for me to feel safe enough for sex. It’s a three-section process, and some of these might seem silly or nonsensical (reading less fanfiction), but the proof is in the pudding for us. Whilst this post primarily focuses on my sex life, my anxiety is very much entwined, and by calming my anxiety we actually have a sex life again!
Steps my partner takes for me so I feel secure and safe enough to have sex:
- Wash hands and ideally face as soon as they come in.
- Take off outside work clothes when home – especially shirt (bonus: mini striptease).
- Go for a daily shower when they get home (bonus: surprise nakedness).
- Wash coats, scarves, hats and gloves at least a few times a week.
- Avoid large gatherings where possible.
- Take hand sanitiser when out and use often and/or wash hands.
- Keep an open dialogue with their work to talk about working from home.
Steps I take to feel safe and secure enough to have sex:
- Prioritising showering daily.
- Try to keep hair up and out of the face with clips/headbands.
- Wash hands before sex.
- Wash face morning and night.
- Have hand gel and disinfecting wipes to hand for the times I cannot move to wash hands.
- Check-in with myself regularly, take mindful breaths and try to meditate.
- As much as I possibly can, avoid the news on all platforms, but especially Twitter.
- Read less fanfiction, and more books about the world from different people to remind myself there is a world out there, and life still goes on.
Steps we both take to feel safe and prevent my anxiety from getting out of hand:
- Limit talk of COVID19. Seriously. The more I’d talk about it, the more it would be in my brain. If we did talk about it, it was mainly to strategise or I’d ask about food/meds we might need.
- My partner sits with me for our standard weekly food shop, so I don’t overbuy to excess because I think I need 20 cans of soup … when I already have 20 cans of soup.
- Stay on top of prescriptions, and order extra meds where possible – inhalers, stomach protectors, paracetamol etc.
- Change the bedding regularly and be strict about it.
- Extra laundry loads – we can worry about clothing longevity in a few months when this has passed.
- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, taps, and toilets often.
- Disinfect glasses, laptops, phones, and fans daily.
- If I do text my partner about COVID19, then he will prompt me to get off Twitter/social media. The same goes for when he’s home and I’m on my phone.
- I promised to talk, actually talk about my brain chaos so we can break it down and rationalise it.
From implementing these steps our sex life has improved. I can’t confidently say that it’s where it was pre-virus. Still, I feel more safe and secure in initiating sex and kissing my partner. There was even a week where we were going at it nearly every day – though, my physical health started grumbling.
Of course, it’s not perfect. I still get overly paranoid about touching him if he doesn’t shower straight away and wear gloves (also to protect my eczema from over washing) to open parcels and bring in food items, but it’s progress. Focusing on tomorrow or next week serves me no good if I can’t get through the day, and ‘a day at a time’ progress is what I’m focusing on right now.
How are you coping with COVID19? And has your sex life been affected?