I don’t know what it means to lose your sexual appetite. When I was asked to write this piece, I thought, “Can I write about something I’ve never experienced?”
Although I cannot say I have suffered a decrease in desire to the point of experiencing a sexual desert, I do admit that just thinking about the process of seducing someone during this pandemic is not thrilling at all.
However, my libido with myself has not declined. I have openly empathized with my sex toys, and I have even been given some new pieces to the collection. Not surprisingly, the erotic industry increased its sales this year.
No wonder couples are having intimacy issues.
Why are We Afraid of a Low Libido?
A few days ago, talking to a friend, she told me that it was strange for her to combine sexual desire and friendship. For her, losing desire for the other’s body happened when she faced emotions closer to friendship than love or lust.
In the same conversation, I told this friend that, in an old relationship, I was surprised the first time a man told me, in full foreplay, that he really didn’t want to have sex.
For us Latinas, this type of circumstance rings the alarm because we have always been sold the macho man’s stereotype, one who always wants to have sex, and the one who is a bull in the bed.
However, this is not always the case.
Beyond the previous approaches, which could give for other discussions, the lack of sexual desire that we have faced in 2020 has shattered many couples and singles.
COVID-19 has radically changed social relations in the world, both because of the restrictions imposed by different states and the fear of contagion that has taken hold of the general population. Added to this, the feeling of economic uncertainty and the possibility of the physical death of oneself or a close relative has cut off any kind of desire or certainty of life. Therefore, the sexual drive has evidently decreased.
“Not being interested in sex during a global crisis is completely normal,” says sociologist and clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon from The Sex Toy Collective. Pandemic stress is not uncommon, nor new, “for many people, it is financial stress, which has to do with a type of stress related to survival.”
In general, we relate sexually for reasons very different from reproduction, more linked to obtaining pleasure. But if in that first approach, survival stress comes first, it can negatively affect a body’s capacity or interest in enjoyment, or simply, reproduction.
“Survival stress sends the body into a state of fight or flight, so the only thing that matters is survival, not procreation. We are hormonally less interested in having a baby or giving birth, and that means a lower libido,” says Melancon.
For the personal relationships and intimacy coach, Alexandra Stockwell, “you can’t be stressed out and have good sex. You need to feel comfortable and safe.” There are many obvious reasons why people can’t relax right now.
For couples, the state of constraint we were forced to live in, side by side, 24 hours a day, the limitation of one’s personal space and the obligation to share every moment of the day, in some cases, exacerbates fights within the couple, highlights differences of opinion, mitigates the lack of desire in every day, and thus weakens the bond.
Negative emotions are known to affect sexual relationships. In fact, sexual and reproductive health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being concerning all aspects of sexuality and reproduction, not merely the absence of disease or dysfunction. Moreover, now, with many countries being confined, sexual habits can also vary significantly.
For their part, couples with children have had their privacy affected. With schools closed, couples with children may find it challenging to find time alone. At the same time, not being apart makes it impossible to miss each other and light the fire.
In single people, the lack of social life is the fundamental factor that has deterred meeting potential lovers with whom elevating their libido can only occur through a video call.
Trying to Revive the Flame
I’ve heard some sexologists say that you shouldn’t expect your libido to flip on like a light switch. I think it’s precisely the opposite; it’s like sailing on the sea during a storm, high and low waves, like a Disneyland roller coaster. For many, going to therapy with a sexologist can help get them moving again by adding some loops and twists.
Whatever happens this year, a decreased libido cannot be considered a personal flaw. That’s not only invalid; it’s unproductive. “Let yourself go,” says Jordin Wiggins, owner of Health Over All. “We’re all navigating through this as we go along, and putting more pressure on yourself to have sex, or feeling guilty because you don’t want to, won’t help turn off the stress response and get your libido working again.”
Like Wiggins, I think we need to let ourselves live in the present, not push ourselves to be sexual, but if we feel it, grab that rudder and maneuver through that unfamiliar and fabulous sea called desire.