COVID has impacted almost everyone in some way. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost a loved one. You may have even had to deal with the virus, yourself. Already, there have been numerous studies on the effects of the pandemic, and what long-term issues it might cause.
There has been less talk, however, about how the pandemic has affected sex and intimacy, especially in long-term relationships.
At first, you might think the intimacy between couples only grew throughout the pandemic. For months, people were “stuck” at home, relying on the people they lived with to keep going. That can foster deep conversations and stronger connections.
But this has also been a time of stress and uncertainty. When you feel forced to stay in one place with the same person, it’s easy to also feel trapped. Add that to the stress of the pandemic, and it can cause problems in any relationship.
So, how has COVID really affected sex and intimacy? What fallout should we expect from the pandemic in years to come?
Stress can put anyone on edge, especially in a relationship. Losing your job, losing a loved one, or even just changing your routine can throw you off balance. Some findings discovered many couples were more likely to argue during the pandemic.
As a result, their sex lives weren’t as healthy as they used to be. There was less of an interest in giving and receiving, or even showing any kind of intimacy. Those results shifted slightly based on different demographics. But they were mostly the same for both men and women.
Interestingly enough, as sex lives have suffered, levels of loneliness have increased.
When you feel alone in your relationship, even if your partner is in the same room, it often leads to much bigger issues that go beyond the physical. Loneliness can grow into depression, which can fuel your isolation further. It’s a vicious cycle that rarely gets better on its own—especially when you don’t reach out for help from your partner.
Paying Attention to Relationship Satisfaction
When you’re in the same space with someone—even someone you love—time and conflict aren’t really your friends. Again, tensions have been high throughout this pandemic, and it’s normal to feel the stress it’s brought on. But relationships have suffered, as a result.
Conflicts have made it more difficult for couples to be intimate, and you’re likely not going to be interested in boosting your sex life when you’re upset with your partner.
So what can you do?
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with COVID. But that doesn’t mean your relationship will just be “fixed” when the pandemic has passed.
You might find that you need to re-learn things about each other again. Focus on your relationship as a whole rather than trying to fix bits and pieces of it.
You cannot rebuild intimacy without looking at your entire relationship. That starts with recognizing how the pandemic has impacted it—even if that’s a struggle. When you get to the underlying issues, however, you can start working on them from the ground up.
Of course, your relationship isn’t based on sex. Your sex life will improve naturally as you feel closer again. But a strong relationship can’t survive without intimacy. Finding ways to let each other in again and lean on one another through times of stress is crucial.
If you’re not sure how to do that on your own, feel free to contact me. Your relationship doesn’t have to be “just another statistic” in the wake of COVID-19. Together, we can help you get back on track, and feel stronger together than ever.
Click here to learn more about Couples Counseling.