Social distancing means taking time to love yourself… and your body

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Joe Evans

Joe Evans offers the best cure for your double whammy of horniness and loneliness during lockdown: a wank.

As the various governments of the UK each try to create their own path back to normality, I think it’s quite safe to say that the same restrictions on social interaction are going to stay awhile longer. But, what does this mean for sex? 

Well frankly, unless you are already living with somebody who wants to get physical with you, you aren’t getting any. This state of affairs can be very frustrating, as separation from a partner or the inability to form new relationships can add to the mental strain of isolation. In addition, the fact that you can’t even go for a casual hook-up results in feeling what can best be described as a double-whammy of unbelievable horniness and unbelievable boredom. According to a quick Google search (and common sense), the best way to deal with these feelings is to masturbate, with a piece discussing masturbation being the top chrome result for “how to look after your sexual health during lockdown”. The article from Patient.Info cites “scientific research” – which turns out to be a thesis on the benefits of masturbation by Eli Coleman PhD from the University of Minnesota Medical School – and heavily quotes the self-described UK Sex Expert Kate Moyle. Despite the slightly dodgy vibe of the writing, the advice on offer does seem to check out, and the public has run with it; sex toy sales are apparently increasing massively over pre-lockdown numbers. Now is probably the best time to, at risk of sounding like a Lovehoney advert, try something new and exciting. Getting to know yourself – and the best way to get yourself off – will probably make that post-lockdown shag that much better, and even if not, at least it was a way of passing the time! Joking aside, masturbation is also a great stress-relief, which is definitely needed in the current time of uncertainty. 

Having a cheeky wank every now and then to maintain your sanity is one thing, but what about relationships? How are they faring with lockdown preventing physical intimacy? One of my flatmates entered a relationship just before lockdown was announced and – on the whole – they seem to be managing. The nightly Skype calls of April and May have given way to a chat on the phone every so often, but this is not necessarily a sign of strain. Though it may be upsetting to be away from someone for such a long time, especially in the early stages of a relationship, there are a myriad of ways to stay in contact, and if – as in the case of my flatmate – some forms of communication only increase feelings of loneliness and missing your partner, tell them! Find a way to stay in touch that minimises the pain of being physically apart. Also, keep in mind that lockdown will end eventually, restrictions in the UK and the rest of Europe are being loosened (in some places more than others obviously), so it won’t be too long before you get to be together again.

If your relationship is based more heavily on physicality, and talking about sex after lockdown isn’t enough, then the obvious answer would be Skype sex – though it is extremely important to do this securely. A platform with end-to-end encryption being particularly desirable, and make sure that everything is consensual. Don’t be a dick – if the person on the other end doesn’t want you saving or screenshotting anything they send you, don’t do it – advice which should be pretty obvious. Virtual sex is actually something of a buzz topic at the minute, with various pieces in national newspapers offering advice, extolling the virtues of sexual interaction online, or even attempting to analyse the so-called “cyber sexual revolution” brought about by lockdown severely limiting the opportunity for intercourse. While it is probably too early to make any sweeping sociological claims about shifting attitudes to masturbating on Zoom, apps like Tinder or Bumble are reporting huge increases in usage, which if nothing else highlights the loneliness and desire for interaction everyone is feeling after being shut inside for weeks.

It’s not all loneliness and virtual sex though, as shared hardship does seem to be opening up a healthy discussion about masturbation, sexuality, and sexual health. This can be as minor as acknowledging that your roommate could do with some undisturbed time to themselves every now and then, or debating the importance of intimacy in maintaining the health in a relationship, which is a nice change from the usual expectation of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As social taboos go, acknowledging that having a wank is a normal and enjoyable thing to do is definitely one of the more ridiculous, and hopefully it is not included in the new normal. That’s one of the benefits of all the talk from the government of the virus changing the face of Britain: we get to decide which bits of pre-corona society we keep, and which get abandoned.

So stay sane, maintain the health of any relationships you may be in and don’t be ashamed of trying something new next time you feel like knocking one out.


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