At the end of March, a self-isolation regime was introduced in our country. We found ourselves alone with loved ones – and this, apparently, for a long time. Of course, in the history of mankind there have been wars, and epidemics, and crises, but then we were more concerned with the issue of physical survival.
Today, it seems, for the first time, we want to talk openly about how the problems of the outside world will affect our interpersonal relationships, including intimate ones.
“Quarantine has made us live in uncertainty. We do not know when all this will end, what will happen to the economy, how much the virus threatens our loved ones. The world is changing before our eyes. And such a situation is stress for the psyche. But isolation is not a problem in itself. It plays the role of a catalyst for already existing difficulties, brings them out of the latent state to the surface, ”explains psychologist-sexologist Maria Shelkova.
And sex is no exception.
“Light up” on the side
So, why is the current situation – massive quarantine, isolation – new both for us and for our intimate relationships? What are the main stressors that we experience due to the unusual intimacy with the other half?
“The main problem for sex is the lack of new experiences. We have to be together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ”says Maria Shelkova.
But sex is only for two. What do others have to do with him? Ideally, shouldn’t we have only a partner for inspiration?
“We are so arranged that we have to communicate with other people outside the family: this feeds our autonomy, the perception of ourselves as a separate person. And so now, being nose to nose with the same ones, we begin to dream about diversity. Deny a person something – he will immediately want it, ”explains the sexologist.
How can we “feed” from others, if we even try to go to the store less often now? You can “get” the necessary impressions by throwing a party with friends in one of the online messengers. Or just chat on the phone with a friend, hiding from loved ones on the balcony. Having felt ourselves separate, we are ready to return to the partner with renewed vigor and inspiration.
Litmus for intimacy
As mentioned above, isolation does not create difficulties in itself: it only highlights dark places that we previously did not carefully notice.
“Suddenly it turns out that we have nothing to talk about with a partner. This was unnoticed until the two of us locked ourselves in the apartment for several weeks, drastically limiting communication with colleagues and friends. Suddenly it turns out that we do not know how to communicate at all – not at all, not about sex. Decreased libido, conflicts based on sexual dissatisfaction, sexual boredom – these are the main problems we face now, ”explains Maria Shelkova.
There is a great risk that at home we will feel like in a prison. And it certainly will not awaken passion. We may love our other half very much, but if he or she tends to constantly demand confirmation of love from us or wants to touch us more often than we are comfortable with, it can be very annoying.
“If partners have difficulty building psychological boundaries, isolation can be very painful to the relationship. The stronger and more demanding will push the boundaries of the weaker, which will provoke a new round of anxiety and passive aggression, ”the psychologist-sexologist believes.
As a consolation
Sex can play the role of a universal language for sorting out relationships or provide comfort. For example, monkeys of the bonobos breed use it to calm down relatives who are upset by the lack of food or worried about danger.
Of course, things are a little different with people, the psychologist believes. “A man consoles himself with sex, not another. Each of us activates different defense mechanisms in response to stress and anxiety. Someone can withstand stress, for someone it is unbearable. There are people who, even without quarantine, “escape” from anxiety into sex. It is highly likely that they will also “fight stress” with the help of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, ”says Maria Shelkova.
That is why “consolation with sex” is a kind of “coping strategy”, that is, a reaction to stress. How it is formed is influenced by a number of factors, including temperament, parenting patterns, and past experience.
In general, there is nothing wrong with calming yourself down this way periodically. But if sex is the only tactic in our arsenal of dealing with stress, it’s worth considering: what are we going to do if, for some reason, we cannot make love? Isn’t it time to learn other ways to reduce anxiety and tension?
Perhaps sex should be left for joy and enjoyment, without giving it an ambulance mission. Anyone who is able to rely on himself in difficult times will be able to give more to another and better open up in a relationship.
After the ball
What awaits us when the forced “vacation” in the crisis is over? It is highly likely that not everyone will be able to withstand this test.
“I think that after the quarantine there will be a wave of divorces – of course, if this particular couple does not have the magic social glue in the form of a joint mortgage. People will want to escape from the situation – it’s easier than solving internal psychological problems that caused tension in a couple, ”says Maria Shelkova.
But there are those who are not afraid of any isolation.
“Couples who know how to communicate with each other, hear each other, will be able to discover a lot of new things in themselves and their partner. These discoveries will enrich both sex and relationships in general. Isolation creates the conditions for a deeper knowledge of yourself and the connection that exists between you and your loved one. Perhaps you have never spoken as sincerely as these days, ”says Maria Shelkova.
And this is definitely good news for us and our bed.