How your safe sex practices changed in 2020
Ah, 2020! It hasn’t exactly been a sexually inspiring time. We’ve seen an emergence of sexual concerns and issues that didn’t exist before covid-19, one of those being: how do I have safe sex during a pandemic?
As human beings, we still crave intimacy, touch and pleasure, even when actual physical intimacy is restricted. And interestingly, the pandemic hasn’t led to mass celibacy, people seem to be craving intimacy now more than ever before. But sacre blue! How can you safely have sex with someone new whilst maintaining a safe social distance? I’ve got the answers for you - and how the pandemic has transformed safe sex. I’ve been asked a range of different questions over the past few weeks, and now that restrictions are easing, I’ve decided to break down the most commonly asked questions around safe sex so you feel comfortable in your escapades!
“I’ve never been a germaphobe, a little sniffle never put me off sex... but this year changed everything! Now if my partner has even the slightest ‘cold’ symptoms I don’t want to go near them! Should I have sex with my partner if I think they’re sick?”
Hate to break it to you: No. Even at it’s cleanest and most protected, sex is still an ‘unhygienic’ act. With so many fluids being transmitted, germs are a given anytime you have a tongue, finger or another body part in or around someone else's tongue, finger or body parts. Safe sex is always important, and coronavirus has put a real spin on how we can actually do this. If you or your partner are worried about feeling sick, it’ll be best for your piece of mind to hold off on sex.
There are still things you can do! You may choose to view this as an exciting time to build arousal and anticipation, waiting out for the moment that you can finally have physical sex again. And while you wait, you can still have non-penetrative sex, and keep your distance. A few ways you can do this include: Exploring power play by asking your partner to dictate where and when you can touch yourself, then switch so you both can experience being more dominant or submissive. Another idea could be mutual masturbation. Lie next to each other or across the room as you self pleasure together. This can be really arousing, and teach you a thing or two about the way they like to be touched.
“Now that restrictions are easing, I want to start going on dates again - but I’m nervous! Feels like I’ve been out of the game too long and I don't even know where to start. On top of that I’m anxious about the whole staying safe thing!”
I hear you - I’m supporting so many people who feel ready - albeit a little nervous - to start dating again. I see two parts to your question:
- Dating confidence: Like all things, if you haven’t done something for a while, you may feel a little ‘rusty’. But dating is a skill and something you can refine, get better at and feel more confident doing. First things first - give yourself a pep talk (or ask a friend to), reassure yourself - you’ve done this before and you can do it again, and perhaps even organise a few dates to take the pressure off that first date needing to be the one! And remember - first dates are always going to feel a little nerve wracking - they’re probably just as nervous as you.
- Health and Covid safety anxiety: You’ll be drawing on all those basic covid safety practices that have kept you safe thus far! Go to a venue that is following the rules, agree that if either of you feel unwell that you’ll reschedule, and above all communicate! Tell them where you’re at and what you’re comfortable with doing; elbow tap? Air hug? Knowing nodd? Create the rules together and keep each other safe. And if one thing leads to another, you will certainly have to practice safe sex - but that’s a whole other conversation, and I’ve written about the best way to approach it here
“I’m single and horny, I don’t want to have sex with others or date *ahem, pandemic* what can I do instead?”
Now is your time to shine, my friend – you don’t need a partner in order to have great solo sex. Masturbation is by far the safest sex you’ll ever have. Plus, you will be your most intuitive, tentative, aware and long-lasting lover, so capitalise on this self lovin. This is the ideal time to get back in touch with yourself, explore your own body and remember what kind of touch you like most. This is a strange time we’re going through, and to cope with the foreignness of it’s important to make sure you do things that make you feel good – and orgasmic pleasure can offer you that. Pleasure aside, there are so many health benefits to masturbating. An orgasm-induced endorphin release can put you in a great mood, support you in feeling more connected to your body, alleviate stress and anxiety, boost your libido in general, ease pain, body aches and cramps and create greater access to pleasure when it comes time to have sex with others again. As far as I’m concerned, it seems as though masturbation was made for self-isolation during a pandemic.
In my experience of working with clients in this time, it has been fascinating to see how conversations around safe sex practices have transformed! Of course - one way to reduce risks is by not taking any, because let's face it, no amount of hand washing will work when you’ve got your tongue in someone's mouth. But now that we’re moving into the clear (fingers crossed) you can certainly find ways to feel safe and practice safe sex.
It’s important we do our bit to feel connected to our sexuality and invite moments of pleasure into our lives each day. So get creative, keep each other safe and explore what you need to be safely, sexually stimulated.