Remember the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when we all thought there was going to be a massive baby boom? Yeah, well, if you have any friends quarantined with their partner, you have probably heard some grumbling about their sex life — or lack thereof. A new study from the Kinsey Institute that investigated the frequency and kinds of sexual experiences folks are having right now suggests that, yes, people are having less sex, but they are also being a little more sexually adventurous. More creative sex is a weird silver lining, but I'll take it.
“First of all, we have way more time on our hands,” says Britney Blair, a clinical psychologist and the chief science officer at Lover, a sexual wellness app. “You can only read, watch TV, bake bread and chat for so long. People are finding some fun, sexy, pleasurable ways to use that time. It’s a great solution for boredom.” Blair also thinks that a lot of us have a lot less stimulation than we have in the past (fewer in-person meetings, social events, etc.) which may contribute to some people’s desire to create new kinds of creative sexual stimulation for themselves. In other words, people may just be getting bored enough — in their whole lives, not just with their sex live — to try new things. And they may have more time to figure out what new things they might want to try.
There’s also been a lot of conversation on social media about how we can use the pandemic to “better ourselves.” While I, personally, am not a fan of obligatory self improvement, Blair says this cultural pressure might be inspiring some individuals to expand their sexual repertoire. Sure, you could learn macrame, but what are you going to do with all those plant hangers in your windowless first floor apartment? “Getting better or more creative in bed seems like quite a fun thing to work on,” Blair says.
The thing is that new doesn’t always mean better. Just because people are trying new techniques — and we’ll get into what these techniques are, specifically, in a minute — it doesn’t mean they’re ecstatic about their sex lives. The findings are mixed, but it appeared that folx who were trying new things were 20% more likely to report that their sex life had improved since the pandemic, and that is not to be dismissed.
Although I’m a big fan of solo sexual exploration, innovative masturbation techniques didn’t seem to cut it for most participants in the study. The people who reported the most increase in sexual satisfaction in the study were individuals who were having new sexual experiences with a partner. “The new additions most strongly correlated with sex life improvement were trying new positions, acting on fantasies, engaging in BDSM, and giving massages,” study author and sex schola Justin Lehmiller wrote, in his findings.
Despite the massive innovations taking place in sexual technology – SexTech – which includes everything from vibrators to sex robots, technology and toys also don’t seem to be making people any more sexually satisfied. The researchers also stated that there’s no evidence that our sex lives are headed in the direction of AI. “It is possible that recent uptake of SexTech is a temporary coping strategy,” Lehmiller said, in the study. “Once the pandemic subsides, technology usage may decrease.” Look, masturbation is arguably one of the healthiest ways to cope, so keeping investing in gadgets, friends.
So, if we have a sex life that needs a little lubing up right now, what should we do? “Agree to create a safe space and then take turns sharing fantasies,” Blair says. “You could try listening to erotica together and notice what sounds hot and fun or watch porn together to get new ideas for positions to try and erotic activities to do.” Trying new positions may sound kind of vanilla — at least it does to me — but the Kinsey study suggests that it is the number one way people found to increase their sexual satisfaction during the pandemic. Who knew that switching from doggy style to reverse cowhand could be such a game changer?
What about those of us who are in solo quarantine? Well, the research suggests that you’ll still be better off if you try something new. I have two words of advice for you: SEND NUDES. Sext someone. Go to a virtual sex party. And again, even though it may not be as satisfying as having sex with a partner, sex toys can be a potent form of stress relief (and really fun). Or, if you’re too tired and you have a quarantine-induced headache, it’s okay to give in and bake some bread.
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