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Pillowtalk- Absence makes the heart grow anxious: coming back together after COVID-19

Pillowtalk-+Absence+makes+the+heart+grow+anxious%3A+coming+back+together+after+COVID-19

Hi Pillowtalk,

I haven’t seen my partner in a really long time because of covid, and we haven’t been able to have sex in over a year. We sext and sometimes send videos, and we had a pretty active sex life before covid. But I’m going to see her again in person soon (I’m virtual and living alone, and she just got vaccinated) and we’re going to have sex and I’m SO excited and really nervous for some reason. Any tips on how to get comfortable with sex again? And how to talk to her about it?

Your question represents something really hopeful to many isolated people out there holding out hope that they’ll get laid again someday. Unfortunately, it also serves as a reminder that the end of this thing isn’t going to be a fairytale success story. This pandemic is a social trauma, and I’m sorry you’re feeling its effects in this aspect. 

You’ve already anticipated my first piece of advice, which is to talk to her about it. I do think it’s helpful, though, to do a little introspection first. Are you anxious in a first date kind of way, butterflies, nervous laughter and a little self-consciousness? Are you anxious in the way that makes you shaky, jumpy or paranoid, like you’ve had too much caffeine? Are you anxious about your “performance,” about living up to former standards, about your appearance? Do you struggle with anxiety often, and how does this feeling compare? Is it COVID-related anxiety?

It’s okay to be anxious, and in your shoes I would be too. Seeing someone you love after a year of exclusively virtual communication is a big emotional event, and having a strong emotional response to that is understandable! Having sex for the first time in a while holds a lot of the same anxieties as having sex for the first time ever. Touching someone intimately and sharing bodily fluids after a year of anxiety around bodily fluids is obviously not going to be emotionally uncomplicated. Combine those three things and you’re bound to have a situation that causes some nervousness.

Once you’re a little better situated regarding the nature of your anxiety, bring it up with your partner. “I know we’ve had sex before, but it’s been so long that it kind of feels like the first time,” can be a good lead in to “I’m kind of anxious about it, are you?” Treat it like you’re having sex with someone for the first time. Talk boundaries! Talk about what you want to do right away and what you want to wait for, talk about how fast you want to take things, talk about protection and lube and logistics. Get comfy with the details and contextualize the sex that may be happening soon. Make it a little less vague and foreboding.

When it comes to the act itself, I really recommend taking it slow if you’re anxious. Get comfortable with the feeling of touching someone else intimately. This is essentially a novel sensory experience for you! It’s okay if you need to take it slowly. It’s okay if your body and mind need to adjust. It’s okay to wait too!

One more thing I want to note: anxiety around sex is normal and often desirable. Anxiety and arousal often go hand in hand. However, it’s important to recognize when your anxiety is helpful to your sexual experience and when it isn’t. Make sure to check in with yourself periodically, and check in with your partner too. You can always slow down, speed up, change activities or take a break. 

I hope this helps, and I wish you and your partner a happy reunion! Be safe—and as always, use lube!

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Have a question for Elleri?

Send it to http://bit.ly/2LZTHeY

or scan our QR code here!

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