How To Be Intimate With Your Partner Amid COVID-19

partners, relationship
Elisabeth Shaw

Apr 24, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is putting pressure on every aspect of life — including intimate relationships. While you might think that being at home more gives you “free time” you might use for more sex, it equally could be a passion killer. Let’s unpack why.

At first, close proximity to your partner is often part of the excitement and passion. You can feel completely immersed in each other’s company and have lots of skin to skin contact, and it only seems to heighten desire, which flows readily and plentifully if you are lucky.

However, over time distance, both emotional and physical, can be important for good sex. It’s not just a simple matter of “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, but there is something about having space and coming back to one’s partner in a different way, e.g. coming together in bed at night after separate activities, that gives us and our partner a renewed sense of desire.

Couple, relationships

As we grapple with living in isolation for the foreseeable future, we are faced with new hurdles:

1# The blurring of home and work. It is hard to hold a boundary when your office might be your bedroom, or where you might have negotiated fluid work hours in order to look after your children throughout the day too. Maybe one of you has lost your job and that has introduced boredom or even jealousy or bitterness at the situation.

2# You get to see your partner work, and you might not like what you see! Perhaps s/he puts on headphones and tunes out, including you and the kids. Or perhaps s/he needs a lot of chat time, which drives you nuts. This can create more fodder for couple conflict rather than closeness, especially at either end of the desk (dining table)

3# When there is relationship trouble, some are left completely turned off by sex. However, sex is also a way of building a bridge. Refusing to consider it unless everything outside of the bedroom is sorted out can be shooting yourself in the proverbial foot. Instead, if sex is a good part of your relationship and you know there is already plenty of stress around, then working with your strengths is really worthwhile.

Here are some simply ways to help you maintain a healthy sex life amid COVID-19:

sex life, partner, bed
  • Creating separate time where individuals feel topped up with good conversation, news, and warmth from friends, enabling good energy to come back to the relationship. A needy and bereft person is not very sexy!
  • Keep a household routine. Strict bedtimes for kids etc. will help you keep on top of adult time so you can refresh and rejuvenate.
  • Regular exercise will keep you feeling energised and body confident. If you are collapsing into sloth, that also detracts from sexual energy.
  • If there are couple issues emerging, name and discuss them cleanly. Seething resentments will inevitably burst out from under the mat and become very distancing, and a reason not to have sex.
  • Talk about how you are going to carve out couple time under these conditions. Perhaps a walk every day, or meeting up for a coffee where you agree not to talk about work or kids. Maybe a date night on the couch. Take it in turns to set the scene for your date so the other feels a little surprised. This will help you create some level of intrigue and interest.
  • Don’t set the bar unrealistically high. Keeping a sexual connection is a really worthy goal, but if it just gets impossible, heighten efforts in all the ways you can that show you value and are attracted to your partner.

Relationships Australia NSW has launched Time 2 Talk, a brand-new telephone hotline that provides free professional advice to help couples, individuals and families navigate the complexities of day-to-day living amid COVID-19. Simply call 1300 022 966.


By Elisabeth Shaw

Elisabeth Shaw is CEO of Relationships Australia NSW and a clinical and counselling psychologist specialising in couple and family work.


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