NYC.gov wrote a guide on safe sex during the pandemic!
Looks like self-pleasure is in style again…welcome back to the renaissance.
Laying around naked all day, working on my computer, wouldn’t be so bad if I actually resided in an actual American Utopia.
Due to COVID19, the guise of “happy” couples and families has been lifted.
As we grieve yet another loss of life, especially for people of color, it is more evident that we are in a trap of the pursuit of happiness, with no promises of ever achieving this state.
Surrounded by Thanatos (death) energy, the Clinical Sexologist in me ponders way too often what is going to happen as we are distant from others physically, and then do not have skills other than distraction for intimate connection.
For example, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine or watching the sunset is not as exciting, after yet another day in quarantine bleeds into the next.
A professional tip of mine is to consider trading your “usual” Zoom happy hour for something more curious… something more erotically challenging.
Eros is one of the Greek words that translates loosely into “passionate love,” or “romantic love.” This led to the English translation of erotic which I have learned from my undergraduate studies in philosophy and Western Civilization is the human “life energy.”
Therefore, I suggest you begin looking for your LIFE energy during this time, because it matters!
Systemic grief is everywhere…especially for New Yorkers. It’s sadness and mourning over destroyed routines, lost jobs, and ill loved ones
When the impact of the COVID19 pandemic isn’t felt on a personal level, we grieve for what was lost. Sometimes adults even report missing their daily coffee shop visit and dating life.
Everyone is living through some level of discomfort, pain, loss, stress, or anxiety; everyone is looking for comfort, and coping the best they can.
What I’m hearing a lot these days from clients is concerns over the challenges of not working, working from home, and anxiety about furloughs.
Similarly, those who were working from home before now struggle with feeling less productive, as they juggle homeschooling their kids and living in relative chaos within their family system.
There’s also the adjustment of spending way more time with your partner or spouse.
Who wants to admit that they need a break and want to see less, not more of this person?
The couples I met with were forced into quarantine quickly with differing expectations of what it would look like.
Some of my clients report that their partner is stuck in “porn land,” using masturbation to destress.
Others find themselves in escalating arguments, yelling at each other in front of the children, or dealing with the ineffective silent treatment when resentments arise.
There are no bars to retreat to, no happy hours or trips to the gym that offer an escape. The situation is constant and present.
I resist the urge to tell them about non-monogamous folks, widows, or couples who don’t live together yet or don’t plan to.
How must it feel to go months without intimate touch from another person?
These individuals are often living a single life and truly are feeling isolated.
They don’t have the option to touch their partners and often report to me being extremely “touch depleted.”
One example would be a young widow, now living alone. She states, “I have not even been able to give or receive a hug from another in sooooooo long….”
As a sex therapist, I suggest self-pleasure and lubrications. She states, “honestly I am in no mood… AND I know if I change the action, a changed feeling can follow… I will try it.”
Often, it is easier to cope by reverting to old behavior patterns, withdrawing or becoming hypervigilant.
It is easy to become disheartened at a time like this, especially when there is a clear divide of how individuals are being treated.
There are a few things I’d like to emphasize to any readers struggling to maintain intimate connections while staying at home in the face of such disruption. The first is that we have to accept there are different levels of erotic connection.
Don’t hold yourself or your partner to past standards that are now unrealistic. There aren’t any romantic date nights in the city that involve great restaurants and wonderful drinks that phase effortlessly into amazing sex.
We have to accept that reality has shifted.
The stress of the pandemic makes it easy to forget sex as a priority.
“There’s too much going on right now,” you may tell yourself as the days go by without intimacy.
Your partner will understand, right?
The danger here is when days turn into weeks. People dealing with stress often resist sex because they feel like it shouldn’t take so much work. They want flirting, foreplay, and all of the other non-verbal signs that lead to sex.
I can tell you that the desire for connection and flow with other humans is still very prevalent, even during a pandemic. You’ve got to find a way to make it happen. That could mean scheduling at home date nights on the calendar or creating codewords with your partner to let them know you need something to happen ASAP. Get creative to keep sex going.
Of course, sex should never be a chore, particularly for people feeling depression, anxiety and grief over the current situation. If you need to put eros on hold, for now, that’s appropriate.
Another thing I’m working with many of my clients in Connecticut and New York is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s interesting how much guilt is attached to taking care of ourselves. I talk to people every day who feel bad about needing a break from kids or their spouses. They think it reflects poorly on them, that they are somehow selfish or not “handling it all.”
Online, we’re bombarded with articles like “10 Things You Can Do to Be More Productive in Quarantine” and the like. We’re stuck in a culture of shame where people who are sad or searching for comfort are told to “be disciplined” and “do more!”
This is a common form of toxic positivity that we all need to be wary of. The endless pressure to stay positive and look on the bright side pushes people struggling deeper into themselves and their grief.
It’s ok to be down, and it’s ok to talk to someone about it.
I saw this firsthand as one of the responders in the Sandy Hook shooting years ago where trauma and terror were visceral and lasting. Sometimes, the urge to offer encouragement needs to be squelched so people can grieve.
If you’re feeling pain from your past life and the things you miss, it’s ok to live in those feelings for a while.
It’s normal to long for your emotional connections and erotic life
Don’t simply tell yourself “everything’s fine” when it isn’t.
The final thing I’d like to touch on is the importance of honesty in our relationships.
Now, more than ever, we must start from a radically honest position with our spouses, partners, and any other intimate relationships.
Fight the inclination to say everything’s fine when it’s not.
Not everyone can be connected, grounded, and gracious all the time.
Be honest with yourself and find the courage to tell your partner what you need before stress makes things worse.
That’s the best way to avoid non-threatening communication and raging emotions.
Going through this experience can help all of us become attuned to what we need and how we can discuss emotions in a healthy way.
I’m using telehealth in my practice to stay connected and keep seeing clients who are struggling. I began offering text and video therapy sessions to hear them and help them with strategies in real-time.
I’m fortunate that early last year I started thinking through telemedicine, as I saw where the trend was going. My clients wanted more accessible lines of communication outside of our regular on-site, one-hour meeting each week.
Yes, it is fair to say remote therapy isn’t perfect, though I have to accept that it may be the new normal for a bit.
Video and text therapy sessions have ramped significantly since quarantine began. That was expected, and I’m pleased to say that the results have been better than I would ever have imagined.
What I’m interested in seeing is how things play out as we begin to normalize – whatever that means.
This pandemic is changing so much about how we communicate and interact with others, and I’d bet a lot of it is here to stay.
As we grow closer to understanding our own needs, we better equip ourselves with the capacity to listen and hear those same things from the people we care about.
Remember, lean in compassionately, with yourself, and with those struggling through this with you, if it is safe to do so. Give yourself the love you need to survive and thrive.
And if all else fails, follow the nyc.gov guidelines on being your own safest sex partner!
Amanda Pasciucco (she / her) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Continuing Educator, and the owner and founder of Life Coaching and Therapy – a group private psychotherapy practice located in West Hartford, CT and providing services internationally.
As international coach and speaker who has been featured as an expert on CNN, PornHub, Headspace, Playboy, HuffPost, Men’s Health, Maxim, Daily Mail, Amanda has helped transform the intimate lives of those struggling with infertility, sexless relationships, low-desire, arousal, orgasm, and penetration problems.
She provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. Contact her to email@example.com or visit her practice website www.lifecoachingandtherapy.com.
If you follow these tips, you’ll ensure your vibrators are always ready for fun when you are!
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