Never before have we experienced social isolation on a massive scale as we have during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. There has been impacts to social connection and sense of belongingness to singles and couples in the community.
“Even before the pandemic and lockdowns there was a cultural shift around prioritising our own happiness and freedom.” says Lovehoney Ambassador and Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle Otten “Some of the positives of building a relationship with minimal contact is that you spend more time getting to know someone without rushing or feeling the need for intimacy as it is off the table.”
Singles who social surrogate
Being connected or feeling connected with someone doesn’t necessarily always have to be physical either. At a time when pandemic-related restrictions have motivated questions about how to be social, cuthe social ltural perceptions regarding the unwritten rules for what’s appropriate for creating a sense of belonging may be one of the factors that increase risks in declining mental health in a pandemic setting.
“We live in a society where people are questioned if they’re not in a romantic relationship, if they decide not to have children, or they don’t like attending parties,” says Shira Gabriel, a professor of psychology in University of Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences. “There are implicit messages that these people are doing something wrong. That can be detrimental to them.”
For singles, there is actually great benefit in what people use to refer to as ‘social surrogate’ activities – like listening to music, reading gossip colums, binge-watching a show. These symbolic social bonds aren’t a substitute, for person to person contact, but are considered effective in reaping positive mental benefits.
Humans are intensely social and benefit psychologically and physically from social interaction. The tighter we are embedded in a network of friends, for example, the less likely we are to become ill and the higher our rates of survival. People who belong to more groups, such as sports clubs, church, hobby groups, have been found to reduce their risk of future depression by almost 25%.
Getting to the next level during a lockdown
And for new couples, still getting to know each other, “It also means that we have to get creative and make an effort to achieve a connection and create intimacy without touch.” adds Otten, “With the video capabilities and virtual dating functions in dating apps, it means couples can still have fun experiences together, such as a dinner date where you order the same food or teaching each other to cook or make cocktails. It makes it easier and more exciting to be sharing it with someone else. It can also be something to look forward to and creates the feeling of anticipation.”
Home based offices have made way for online group fitness training sessions, video live watch parties, virtual drinks and dinners.
“A positive that I have seen is that dates have become more thoughtful and if both parties are really interested, they’re making the effort to create those shared experiences with more variety. It’s not your average date night at a restaurant – don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a restaurant date, just now we’re seeing dates that are a little more outside the box.” observes Lovehoney Ambassador and Male Sex Coach Cam Fraser.
“On the other hand, a negative may be that the chemistry you had online and virtually might not be the same when you meet in person and those shared experiences may have been as a result of the situation, such as both being lonely and bored in lockdown. But don’t let that deter you from putting yourself out there. Instead, look at ways of re-introducing that spark, even from a distance – it could be as simple as sending a sexy text, discussing fantasies or cheeky games like Lovehoney’s Kinky Confessions cards. are a great way to get to know more about your partner sexually and have fun.”
Long distance relationships & Intimacy
“Intimacy is also possible with distance, you just have to be creative and expand your sexual menu. Recent Lovehoney research revealed a love for mutual masturbation, you can join the 30% of Aussies that are already exploring mutual masturbation. I recommend setting the mood in something that makes you feel sexy and confident such as lingerie like the Lovehoney Wild Anticipation range plus mood lighting and a sexy playlist.” suggests Otten.”For couples who are at a stage in their relationship where they are comfortable being intimate in front of each other, there are a range of app-controlled vibrators, such as the Desire Love Egg, which allow you and your partner to pay together remotely. Video sex can be an amazing element to your sex life and these toys take things one step further, with the app giving your partner control of your pleasure.“