From videos of sweet spouses showing love to jokes about divorce rates in China after lockdown, social media is abuzz with others’ relationship stories in our current time of crisis and lockdown. Some likely land for you while others leave you scratching your head (or, in my case, screaming WTF—just me?). While these posts offer a snapshot and insight into others’ relationships, and give you some insight into what you’d like out of your own, they don’t support you in creating the intimate, exciting, and fulfilling relationship you desire. This is particularly true for folx living in urban areas, for relationships where one partner is deemed an essential worker, for parents, for poor folx, and for anyone who does not have the privilege of space—indoors and out—in which to take some alone time.
As someone living at the epicenter of the pandemic in NYC, whose relationship narrative has long been, “we’re fiercely independent,” AND who happens to be a sex coach and couple’s counselor, here is some wisdom to reflect on and incorporate as you navigate the many ups and downs of our current crisis—and whatever the future holds.
There is no normal way to navigate a crisis
Crises kick up everyone’s baggage and trauma if it’s present. They also highlight societal inequities, which can contribute to feelings of shame. I invite you to be curious, rather than judgmental, about what’s coming up for you and your beau(s) and be gentle with yourselves.
Being gentle doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries—now more than ever, these are essential! From the practical boundary of staying 6 feet apart if you must venture outside your home to setting limits on the media you consume, the Zoom calls you take, and the conversations you have, boundaries are a form of being gentle with yourself!
It also doesn’t mean that you should give, give, give and not take care of yourself. Give, certainly, and more than you think you can—in the forms of check-ins, self-care, money, and anything else that feels nourishing to you. Just make sure to include yourself as well as your loved ones and your community in that giving.
Don’t be surprised if your libido changes
It may increase, disappear altogether, or do something in between. Whatever direction it goes—and even if it stays the same—is normal and ok. Change in sexual desire is just one way that your body navigates stress.
I know telling you to “not to let this bother you” is probably moot. Can you meet these changes with compassion instead of judgment? After all, everyone’s libido has ups and downs throughout their lives. Being in the midst of a crisis is certainly a time when this is expected and unsurprising.
You have the right to both alone time and connection—and so does your beau
It’s up to the two of you to determine how much of each serves you; to meet those needs for yourself and each other; to communicate when something isn’t working; and, to express gratitude to each other when the other person does a good job.