sex and relationships

'We've Been Filming Ourselves a Lot' – Lockdown Hasn't Killed Everyone's Sex Life

Studies show that most people's sex lives have suffered under the lockdown. But that's not true for everyone.
illustrated by Kim Cowie
19 May 2020, 5:28am
sex in coronavirus quarantine

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Emily didn't think she could come from penetration alone, but since lockdown started she's realised she can.

One day, when her boyfriend was busy scheduling Facebook and Twitter posts for the shoe brand he works for, she put his laptop to the side and sat on him. They weren't trying that hard – mid-afternoon lethargy made the sex slow and clumsy. So she was surprised when she started to hear herself scream. The rest of the afternoon they sat in the sun drinking beer, dipping Doritos into hummus and enjoying the way the sun was bringing out the freckles on their noses.

"You always think of good sex as being the kinky sort, but sometimes it's just really nice to be with each other," said Emily over the phone. "We've been having a lot of good sex at the minute, actually. The other day I squirted so much it soaked through the mattress. We tried to dry it with my hairdryer."

Not everyone is as lucky as 23-year-olds Emily and Matt. A Covid-19 sex survey carried out by Durex found that most people are having less sex since the pandemic started. Worst affected were those in the 16 to 24 age bracket, where 57 percent claimed they were having "much less" sex, and a further 13 percent said they were having "slightly less" sex. Kissing has seen just under a 20 percent drop, as has penetrative and oral sex.

How To Have Not Awkward Video Sex

It's not difficult to work out why this has happened. When you spend all day drifting from one cushioned surface to another in increasingly stained pyjama bottoms, it can be hard to feel sexy. Life-threatening viruses, lost jobs, broken economies, clueless politicians, persistent rent payments and emptied supermarket aisles don't help either. No wonder survey respondents cited "anxiety" as one of the main reasons for their newfound lack of intimacy.

"I'm not really that anxious— well, I am, but sex tends to be a good distraction when things are stressing me out," says Emily when I tell her about the survey. "I don't have as much work to do anymore, either. I work as an office manager and things are just so quiet at the minute I can get everything done in like two hours." With nothing else to do except shag, her and Matt have been, again and again, sometimes three times a day.

"It's been nice, because there's less pressure on it now for the sex to be good," Matt explains. Prior to moving in together for the lockdown, Emily lived in Bristol and Matt was in London, meaning they only got to see each other on the weekends. When the couple did have sex, it had to last a long time and it had to be kinky: mouth gags, spanking, tied-up wrists. "I really like it when she interrupts me when I'm working," Matt continues. "Quickies can be nice. Sometimes when you're not trying so hard, things turn out better."

"You know when you're just feeling super lazy?" Emily asks me. "Well, the other day we were watching TV and I just started touching myself, and then so did Matt, and then we just did that. I think before lockdown gave us all this time together, if I started doing that or if he did, the other would think it was quite rude. But it was hot."

Photo: Emily Bowler

James and Callum from Manchester are another couple who have experienced an improvement in their sex lives since quarantine started. "We both work a lot," says James. "I'm a personal trainer, so often I have to get up at 5AM to get into work. Callum works at a bar, so he's back late – often I'm already asleep by the time his shift is over. It's only now that we're not working that we have the time and the energy to have sex, or more sex."

That said, Callum does maintain that it was a struggle at first. "Initially, I wasn't really in the mood for sex – I was just horizontal eating chocolate. But now I've been doing workout videos and running, and I'm starting to feel a bit better about myself. He pauses and laughs. "Now, I'm horny constantly." Callum and James are somewhat of an anomaly here; non-heterosexual people have seen a 60 percent drop in the amount of sex they're having. A lot of this is because you can only have sex with those you live with, but cohabiting partners have seen a drop in sex too.

"Sex is all I think about at the minute," sighs Connor, a 27-year-old living in London. For the lockdown he's moved back in with his ex-girlfriend from a six-month relationship two years ago. Connor has been furloughed from work, and while his ex Kate still has some university work to do, they both have more time on their hands. With nothing else to occupy him, Connor's mind continually drifts towards the dirty: "I feel like a teenage boy – you know, when all it used to take was seeing some cleavage."

"We've been filming ourselves a lot," adds Kate, who's 24. "It's nice to have a record of what's been happening, because time just feels like it's flying by."

I ask Kate whether her and Connor are back together. "He hurt me quite a lot when we were seeing each other – like, I really liked him, but he was texting other girls." Connor's breath heaves on the other end of the phone line but Kate keeps talking. "At the minute it's good, because neither of us can go anywhere. I've let myself trust him, but I don't know how long that will last when there's the possibility we can go out and see other people again. I mean, he can still text other people now – there's no reason why I should feel so relaxed, but for some reason I do."

I ask Kate how many times they've been having sex per day. "It's hard to put a figure on, 'cause some days it's like four times, but then others we're just both locked in our rooms because we need alone time. But we've been sleeping together a bit like new couples do – you know, when you've just fallen in love and you can't get enough of each other."

I can hear a smile breaking through Kate's voice. "My vagina is sore."

@annielord8 / @kim_illo