By Emily Osborn
Ireland is finally starting to emerge from lockdown. With the world being advised to avoid physical contact at all costs, it would have been expected that society’s collective sex lives would have died of neglect. But with all that time spent indoors, people had to do something (or someone) to fight their boredom. Sex during a worldwide pandemic was something very new to us all.
At the very beginning of the outbreak in the western world, The Department of Health in New York issued this advice on what to do if you’re feeling frisky: “the safest sexual partner you can have is yourself”. In a year where business for many companies was poor at best, sex toy sales were at an all-time high during April 2020. It seemed like people were taking the advice pretty well. At-home workers found new gaps in their schedule that needed to be filled, and most people stuck at home for days on end needed a proper dopamine boost, which is easily attainable when masturbating.
Another popular lockdown pastime was sexting- Before the lockdown, cybersex was usually a lot harder to initiate than simply meeting someone on a night on the town. Post-pandemic, however, people were making the most of their new Zoom accounts by using their webcam in ways the creators of Zoom probably never intended, and article after article was written on how to up your sexting skills, and the best angle to take nudes from (as could be seen in an Express article from last year “You Up? A Guide to Taking Nudes”). Similarly, to this, views on porn sites also got an unexpected boost after April 2020. Pornhub reported 115 million different visits per day, which was well above their average in 2019.
Websites like OnlyFans became household names during the pandemic, with many sex workers opting to move online rather than provide in-person sessions, which now went against public health advice. People with regular sex partners were also affected by the pandemic and its restrictions. While you can’t contract Coronavirus solely from having sex with a partner, it was heavily ill-advised in the early months of the outbreak, unless both parties were 6 feet apart and wearing masks at all times. One press release even sought that couples choose sex positions that weren’t face-to-face, as if reverse cowgirl could stop the spread of Covid-19. For some, sex was a great coping mechanism to ease lockdown blues and pass time. However other couples were (or weren’t) feeling the squeeze, with many reporting that increased anxiety and stress levels forced their libido into the gutter. A survey by sex toy company LoveHoney found that 19% of respondents who were isolating with their live-in partner were not having sex at all following the lockdown. The stress of the pandemic affected people’s mental health massively, and many people felt that getting in the mood was the literal last thing on their minds during what felt like the end of the world.
All forms of socialising basically ceased to exist over the span of a few months, and casual sex and one-night stands felt as if they could be a thing of the past as well. However, many people were still trawling through dating apps and online forms looking for partners to safely hook up with, and one dating website marketed to people who are already in relationships reported a 10% increase in use during the pandemic. People who categorise themselves as thrill-seekers may have found breaking lockdown restrictions in order to get down and dirty an exciting and arousing experience. Others felt that the long-term abstinence that came with lockdown to be detrimental to their mental health and found the relief of human intimacy to be a welcome break from their own company. While we don’t condone breaking lockdown rules for any reason, it’s clear that not even a worldwide stay-at-home order and pandemic can stop people from getting off with each other.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, Covid-19 will feel like a distant memory. People will inevitably resume their normal sexual habits, and a return to on-site work for many will mean no more watching porn during your lunch hour. In time, we can fondly look back on our sex lives (or lack thereof) and remember what it was like to be stuck at home in 2020.
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