Is Pandemic Anxiety Changing Sexual Behavior In Couples?


What Is Pandemic Fatigue?

After living in separate countries for nearly 10 months, due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, when Kritika (name changed) was reunited with her newly-wed husband she was elated. But when the second wave hit, she saw too many of her friends and family suffer physically and financially, and the hope of leading a ‘fun and intimate ’conjugal life had to take a backseat. 

As worrisome news started pouring in from all corners, Kritika and her husband started losing interest in lovemaking. The fear of losing jobs coupled with concern for their loved ones impacted their mental health and sex drive. 

“As a relationship expert, I too imagined most couples would enjoy better sex life during lockdowns. But my clients proved me wrong! Most reported hitting a new low in their sex life,” said Ruchika Kanwal, Clinical Psychologist & Relationship Expert.

So, what has been the impact of Covid-19 on the sexual lifestyle of couples?

Sexual Life And Relationships In Lockdown

Initially, the pandemic gave couples more time to be together, which brought in novelty and excitement. But as the pandemic wore on, it started affecting these intimate relationships. The burden of housework, parent or child care, work from home became more daunting and sex drive took a nosedive.

“I have had clients, mostly women, complain about the lack of intimacy because of families being at home. Not far behind is an emotional disconnect with partners, leading to marital discord,” Kanwal said.

She suggests scheduling ‘dates’ to spruce things up. “The pandemic has made conjugal lives monotonous and it is okay, to begin with scheduling a date with your partner. Explore intimacy without the pressure of sex. It’s a good place to ignite feelings of love and intimacy.”




Why Does Quarantine Make Us So Tired?


According to experts, the pandemic made more couples go through the ‘fight or flight mode (a psychological reaction to stressful situations), leading to a lowered interest in sexual activities.


This fight or flight response has three main stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. A person’s coping mechanism begins with alarm, after which the body tries to resist the changes. Prolonged exposure to the stress-causing factor leaves the person exhausted, leading to a variety of health, psychological and sexual issues. No wonder that the impact of COVID-19 on the sexual lifestyle of couples has been huge.


Reasons for lowered libido during the pandemic:


  • Anxiety: The constant dread was a trigger for anxiety and depression in people, leading to a lack of sexual desire.
  • Lack of Self Care: Lack of exercise, due to lockdown restrictions, and lack of sleep, due to anxiety, made people feel less attractive or more conscious about their bodies.
  • Lack of Privacy: Lockdowns curbed ‘intimate time’ for couples who lived with parents or children.
  • Lack of Alone Time: The pandemic led to too much time spent with partners, leading to more friction and loss in excitement factor. 
  • Lack of Financial Stability: Loss of jobs and pay cuts made people more anxious and sexual activities took a back seat.
  • Loss of Loved Ones: Feelings of grief and pain were overpowering and overwhelming, leading to lowered libido.

Kanwal feels ‘over-stimulation or exposure has also led to lower attraction levels’ as couples are “dressing or changing in front of each other or bathing together” more often than they did before the pandemic.

Is Quarantine Impacting your Sex Drive?

Although there is no fixed ‘normal’ sex drive, a rapid shift, either higher or lower, may be indicative of varying underlying factors, which could be physical, emotional, or psychological. If anxiety is affecting your sexual life, it is a good idea to initiate sexual communication with your partner. 

“Do communicate with your partner about how you feel about the lack of intimacy, but never bring it up during arguments. Rather, make time for this conversation and discuss how you can work on it together,” Kanwal said.

While sex is an important part of physical intimacy, it is not the only part. Sex drive varies from person to person and keeps changing over a person’s lifespan. If quarantine is impacting your sex drive, begin with consensual touching, hugging, foot or shoulder rubs, or just holding hands. 

It is important to remember that everyone is responding to a global health crisis, which has both psychological and physiological implications. The pandemic has resulted in ‘collective trauma’, which will take time for people to process and accommodate. Sex, at this point, can feel confusing or even tiring, and that’s perfectly normal.


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