What about sex in the time of coronavirus?
It’s a question many people are wondering about.
Yet, there are no definitive answers about a virus that’s caused a pandemic with its ability to change and spread in sudden unexpected ways.
Still, we humans long for connection and intimacy, including that of a sexual nature.
So, I’ve gathered some information quoted from experts in infectious diseases, public health, and sexual health, but urge this basic COVID-19 approach:
Follow the rules for protecting yourself and others listed on websites regarding where you live. They reflect the ongoing discoveries and changing impact of the virus’ spread in different locations.
Now, for specifics: If you’re a couple living and staying home together, experiencing no symptoms, and, when out walking or buying necessities, staying the required six-feet from others, you may both agree to engage in some sexual activity.
But there are some warnings, and no-no’s.
From Dr. Carlos Rodriguz-Diaz of George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health:
“There is no evidence that the Covid-19 can be transmitted via either vaginal or anal intercourse…
“…the virus can be transmitted via saliva. Therefore, the virus can be transmitted by kissing.
“There’s also evidence of oral-fecal transmission of Covid-19 and that implies that analingus may represent a risk for infection.”
However, he adds, other forms of expressing eroticism, such as sexting, video-calls, reading erotica and masturbation will continue to be options.
Meanwhile, the practice of one-night stands, or fleeting hook-ups with near-strangers, are considered absolutely dangerous, especially if there are coronavirus cases in your community.
I spoke to Sarah Sloane, a Chicago Sex and Relationship Educator, who’s linked up with Amanda Wilson, co-founder of the dating app #open, to discuss what they call “iso-dating.”
Disclaimer: I don’t promote this or any other dating app. I’m here to discuss relationship advice during a pandemic that isolates us from in-person contact.
Meanwhile, since dating app usage of all kinds has become mainstream behaviour for most singles, Sloane and Wilson see a place for dating when physical meetings are currently risky.
Traditionally, online daters pre-screen the choices they see, and quickly move to face-to-face meetings then in-person contact.
Dating while isolated, instead allows two people to make a connection and grow it in alternative ways, e.g. having the “first date” online, with both “sharing” wine and discussing their tastes.
Social distancing also helps singles use this time to get to know themselves better.
Sloane: “It’s a low-stakes way of putting yourself out there, and learning to communicate with others again.”
As for sex when iso-dating?
There’s time now to step outside some of your past behaviour. “You can discuss your fantasies with someone online, without having to follow through on them.
“It provides a look at your own growth in what you’ll accept or not, and also learn more about a potential partner.”
Sloane predicts that when personal contact is safe again, that learning will help make a relationship stronger and more invigorated.
But online-only dating may not satisfy those who, after years of sexual liberation, fear the realistic health risk of a hook up, but hate the crushing loneliness of being alone and missing “la petite mort” release of sexual orgasm.
There’ve always been ways to temporarily satisfy a sexual need, through self-pleasuring.
For some, it’s an escape into private fantasies and releases some of the emotional tension experienced while living through a pandemic.
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple who take separate vacations, leaving one partner at home with their young children (March 30):
Reader – “I want to share my long experience as an early childhood educator (ECE).
“I’d see some children whose families take separate holidays and never any with their children.
“While it gives parents a restorative week of sanity and adult company, the children do feel it. Even little ones "know" they’re being left behind.
“Often, they also get left longer in child care e.g. 7:00am to 6:00pm.
“Early-learning and care providers cannot match the time with people whom the children love and who love them the most.
“We see changes in their behaviours. Behaviour is communication. "They're just acting out for attention."
“ Childhood development expert Dr. Gabor Maté replaces the word “attention” with “attachment.” A different perspective.
“Families generally know what’s best for them. This worried mom's question is showing that she’s on to something.”
Tip of the day:
Stay up-to-date informed about the risks in your community and living situation, related to having sex during the coronavirus.