Social distant birds and the bees

Emily Morris, Managing Editor

Navigating socialization, dating sites and sex is hardly ever as simple and swift as the stereotypical two-hour rom-com, and now social distancing adds yet another element. 

Sex setback 

Many couples have gotten past the quarantine quarrels, but not every individual received a pre pandemic coupling cue or wanted to couple up. Although six feet of social distancing is an obstacle, relationships — whether committed, budding or casual — are “important for our psychological and physical health,” according to Dr. Terri Orbuch, known as the love doctor.

The safest sexual relationships during a pandemic scale from masturbation, virtual sex, sex with a live-in partner, casual sex and, lastly, sex with multiple partners. Each type of sex is still possible within the pandemic, with some added precautions. 

People are having less sex since a pandemic was declared in March, according to the Leisure Sciences Journal. Even so, one in five people have also reported trying a new sexual activity in the same time period. Social distant dating and creativity are main factors that contributes to this difference.

Additional consent

Meeting new romantic partners during the pandemic just adds another layer of consent. Meeting in-person and entering someone’s six foot bubble cannot be expectations of a new relationship anymore. 

“There are many people that I talk to that do not feel comfortable meeting in-person and starting relationships that way… my big message is to make sure that you know your own preferences, you verbalize those preferences and you ask questions of the other person’s preferences,” Orbuch said. 

Before the pandemic, people were starting with questions about sex, previous relationships and STI tests, according to Orbuch. Now, people can add another layer of similar questions: meeting preferences, previous contact with other people and COVID-19 tests. Both sets of curiosities follow the same customary format — there are just more discussion points now. 

Meeting-less sex

After some clarification, people have to navigate the possibility of never meeting and have some level of relationship. Casual and coupled sex can continue contactless for any parties with that safety preference. 

“You are your safest sex partner,” according to a New York government health report.  

Masturbation is an alternative to meeting with anyone, but socialization is still an important health aspect. Orbuch explained that “creative” dates can be a solution: virtual or socially distant. 

Video call applications such as Zoom, WebEx and Google Meet are just a few ways to connect. These can be a new dating format or causal sex platform.

Parties can watch a movie or episode, cook together or order take-out, all synchronously. Although the couples are apart, they can still communicate and build a basis of a relationship. 

On the other hand, some people prefer casual sex or are sex workers. Virtual platforms are the safest solution, according to a San Francisco government health report, with sexting, phone sex, porn and sex cam workers. 

Social distanced sex 

Physical touch is one of the five love languages, and some people rely mainly on human contact to feel loved and fulfilled. This option is only viable if both parties consent to being together and connect only to personal comfort levels. 

Outdoor dates are emphasized by Orbuch such as, walking, visiting a park, apple picking, pumpkin picking, snowmobiling or skiing. Being outside generally allows more space for six feet of social distancing. If partners choose to make their date more intimate, only meet “face to face in a safe place and assure that you’re both symptom free,” according to Orbuch. 

New York health organizations encourage casual sex if it occurs without any mouth contact: kissing or rimming. Face masks can minimize the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding breath contact.

“Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread,” they said. 

To ensure each partner is kept safe, the public health department recommended starting new relationships only as frequently as every four weeks. This is the safest interaction because of the timeframe that COVID-19 symptoms arise. 

Safe sex is a traditional encouragement by health officials and relationship experts. The pandemic simply adds more conversation. Sexually important acronyms include STIs and COVID-19 now. This doesn’t have to be an obstacle in budding relationships though. 

“Remember that creativity adds excitement and newness, and that’s all good for new relationships as well [as existing ones],” Orbuch said.