Sex Is My Outlet In Times Of Stress. But Lockdown Means I Can’t Get Any

There are far worse things to worry about but during this time of social isolation, my sex drive is somehow off the charts – and I don't know what to about it, writes Aoife Hanna.
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Animals react to times of panic in diverse ways: cats chew their tails, rabbits eat their children. But for me, it appears that my lack of children or a tail leaves me wanting to shag everything with a pulse as a means to get through these trying times.

To set the scene from my self-isolation bunker, I’m 14 months post-heartbreak (just past the bit where I cry most days, and where I’m now single and ready to mingle). Libidinousness isn’t something unusual for me; the annals of my frisky past prove sex has long been an outlet during periods of instability, stress or sadness – whether that’s reaching out to very disinterested exes and old flames or re-downloading the same old apps for the umpteenth time.

“Quarantined? Play with other humans without the need for hand sanitiser,” chimes Feeld, one such app which describes itself as an inclusive dating space for all identities but what’s better described as an app for boundless bonks and bored couples looking for a ‘unicorn’ (don’t ask). It’s also an app I’ve found myself looking to during this time of social isolation as, somehow, this coronavirus business sends my sex drive off the charts. Considering that we’re being told that even a handshake is too risky, what’s to be done with all of this giddy energy? Is shaking hands going to be 2021’s hottest new kink?

“As a currently single but life-long lesbian now living in the dating wasteland that is a satellite town, celibacy is only a recent bedfellow of mine...”

One (fairly vague) NHS study has found that sex “could help you beat the stresses of 21st Century living,” although I’m not sure that they’d anticipated this particular stress – unfortunately that’s just about the worst thing you could do at this point in time. Sexual intercourse with another person who might be infected during the coronavirus pandemic is sadly an almost guaranteed way to catch the virus so, despite the readiness of eager pen-pals on various sex apps, it’s best to keep the contact digital.

On that front, it’s not only Feeld (who now even have an option to message others globally quarantined) but also mainstream love peddlers Tinder have got in on the action too. They sent an update to users reporting that messages between love hungry (and/or bored) individuals in self-isolation have been longer and more engaged than usual. Well, not this love hungry and/or bored Tinderer, whose account is more the strong and silent type.

However, the enforced celibacy caused by this bloody virus might not actually be making many lives that different. Millennials are having what’s been described as a ‘sex recession’ – the reality is we’ve been braced for this introverted WFH (FFH?) storm for quite some time, with research back in 2018 showing that we spend an average of 10 hours a week on dating apps. I, for one, have fallen in love on the internet – in my last relationship I fell hook line and sinker for a perfect stranger after hearing her laugh and seeing the twinkle in her eye, all via FaceTime and before we’d even met.

“When I truly meditate on this quasi-legally binding period of chastity with no apparent end, I’m utterly terrified.”

As a currently single but life-long lesbian formerly of East London and now living in the dating wasteland that is a satellite town where cis-het couples of London migrate to in order to breed — celibacy is a recent bedfellow of mine. Or should I say lack of bedfellow. Dare I admit there’s even a little smugness in saying “welcome to the club, babes” to those lascivious fellow singletons suddenly left aching in their inactive sex lives.

All jokes aside, when I truly meditate on this quasi-legally binding period of chastity with no apparent end, I’m utterly terrified. As my mind runs the whole gamut of sexual possibility offered to an empowered, confident, recently single, queer woman at the dawn of her thirties — the fact is, for now, any exploration that isn’t independent is off the table.

So what’s to be done with all of this want and need? Rebecca Solnit speaks of desire in A Field Guide To Getting Lost and says “I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation in its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance?”

What I’m saying is, in uncertain times, worrying about when I next get laid is far more enjoyable than the array of other things to worry about right now.

Aoife Hanna is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @aoife_hanna.