10 Top Tips for managing Sex and Intimacy during the Covid-19 Crisis

  1. In these difficult times we will be looking for ways to make ourselves feel better and that might mean we struggle to engage with negativity from our partner. If we are too quick to encourage them to ‘look on the bright side’ we risk ‘discounting’ their feelings and this can leave them feeling unheard and create emotional distance. If your partner is struggling then really listen to what they are going through, this will create emotional intimacy which is the foundation of good physical intimacy.


  1. Even if you have a good sexual relationship talk about how the changes to your normal routines might change how you feel about sex. With less definition between our working week, weekends and holidays it may be important to recalibrate this with your partner.


  1. One of the challenges of social distancing is that we are with our partners 24/7 which many couples are not used to and find difficult. Remember this is not a negative reflection on your relationship. Sit down and work out a structured timetable of periods that you will have together, mealtimes for example and times where you can enjoy your own company.


  1. Some people find that sex is a great way to relieve stress which may be heightened for them at this time. For others when they are stressed, sex is the last thing they want to do so check this out with your partner so that expectations are aligned. If one person is struggling to get in the mood for sex, then start with a sensual massage. Remain open to where this might lead. It may help alleviate stress and lead to sex or it may be just be enjoyed for the physical closeness it creates.


  1. Because there is less definition to the working week the days can merge into one and it is important to try and create a routine of a ‘working week’ and a different routine for a ‘weekend’ which is for relaxation. Work out a timetable with your partner of when you will get up, eat meals, and finish your working day and think about how you can vary your weekends, so they feel different and you can enjoy downtime together. Think creatively about when to factor in sex. If you have some flexibility, then consider taking time out in the morning or afternoon it doesn’t have to be last thing at night.


  1. Many couples bury their heads in the sand when sex becomes difficult and they hide behind the busyness of everyday life with the promise that they will address this when life settles down. For many couples this is a great time to start talking and seek help. If you feel you need professional help lots of therapists are now offering online video sessions. At this time couples can benefit from not needing to juggle the usual conflicting work schedules which can make attending appointments together challenging and they can access therapy from the comfort of their own home.


  1. You may be missing date nights with your partner. Try and recreate something at home that feels special. Perhaps get a ready meal to save cooking, eat by candlelight, dress the table, anything that makes the meal feel different. It won’t be the same as a date night, but it at least shows you are both honouring the importance of these in your relationship.


  1. Sex is difficult to talk about so be kind to each other. If you anticipate that a conversation is going to be hard then prepare for it. Avoid bringing the subject up in the bedroom or last thing at night. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I would advise that all couples see their family doctor if they are struggling with a physical aspect of sex, but this should be deferred until it is safe and advisable to do so. However, pharmacies are also a great place to get advice about sexual pain, lubricants and medication for erectile dysfunction.


  1. One of the difficulties of working from home is that this can take over every space and there is no differentiation between work life and home life. Try and zone areas of your house, for work, for eating together and for relaxing. If this is not possible then tidy all your work things away into a box when you are enjoying a meal or relaxation time, so it doesn’t intrude on these times. Lots of my clients say they can’t get into the mood for sex if the house is messy. Where possible don’t work from your bedroom but if you have to, make sure that you clear anything work related away at the end of the day and make an extra effort to create a relaxing, sensual space.


  1. There are some great games to help couples talk about their relationship, and to nurture erotic desire. These can be a fun addition to a date night and encourage couples to share intimacy in a novel, non-threatening way. Have a look online for something you both like. I recommend Intimacy Deck by Best Self – 150 Engaging Conversation Starters for Couples to Strengthen Their Relationship, Romance, Trust, Openness and Vulnerability.

Emma Waring

Emma Waring is a Specialist Nurse, Sex and Relationship Therapist and Counsellor in Transactional Analysis. She is also author of Seasons of Sex & Intimacy (2018). She is also one of the UK Marriage Week’s ambassadors

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