This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Objectively, there is nothing less horny than a global pandemic. Even if the threat of spreading a potentially deadly virus isn't enough to make the most prolific shaggers turn it down a notch, the stress of mass unemployment and impending economic collapse kind of does the trick (for a lot of us, anyway). Besides, we can't leave the house for anything other than exercise and essential purchases. So if you want to get off with someone you don't live with, now is the time to get really good at FaceTime sex and perfecting that nude lighting.
That said, while the UK public have been criticised for sunbathing in the park at the weekends, there are others who are breaking the rules far more deviously. That's right: even during a coronavirus outbreak, while you are studiously remaining inside with only your dildo and Supernoodles for company, others are sneaking out and hooking up IRL. Without gloves, without masks, skin touching everywhere. But, why? Have they not been reading the news?
Lauren*, who's 23 and lives in east London, tells me that she's been hooking up with someone who lives two streets from her and they've continued even after lockdown. “He lives alone and doesn't see anyone, and I live with one other flatmate, so I feel like there's not a lot of risk involved,” she reasons. “The distance means it's almost like we live together, without actually having to live together. And we both work from home. If the lockdown gets stricter, I'll rethink, but at present I don't feel too guilty about having some fun once a week.”
Rhi, who's 25 and has been isolating alone for nearly a month, tells me she hadn't hooked up with anyone the entire time. But then she finally snapped after a night of drinking and feeling horny. “I was on Hinge and chatting to this guy who had also been isolating totally alone for 21 days. I was drinking Prosecco and dancing on my balcony and we were both like, 'Fuck it…'” she explains. “I go to his, he's got a really nice gaff and we're chatting for ages and I'm absolutely wankered. Anyway, night goes on, we had sex and went to bed.”
Rhi considers the lockdown fling a one-time thing, and acknowledges that this is hands down the worst time to be meeting up with anyone. “The Queen's Speech ends and I just go to him, 'This is really dark, isn't it?'” Rhi continues. “What I didn't realise is that the walk of shame would be so much darker and full of existential dread and the feeling of single-handedly torching the NHS.”
For a lot of people I spoke to, their lockdown hook ups started with good intentions and went down hill. “I went on a date and slept with a guy the week before lockdown and hadn't seen him since,” Frances, 26, tells me. “Then yesterday he was joking about coming over but I realised he was serious, as he was passing by mine. So I let him in and we sat 2M away from each other at first. Then we drank a couple beers and smoked a joint, but then ended up having sex twice.”
It wasn't a guilt-free experience for Frances either. “My housemates were quite rightly pissed off that I had him round so I made him leave and then cleaned all the areas he may have been,” she adds. “I feel really bad about it!”
For others, these coronavirus hook ups are less about sex and more about the loneliness of being cooped up inside alone. Alex, 29, says he had a moment of weakness and went to visit his ex. “We broke up just before lockdown, so it would have been really weird for us to not have proper closure. I wouldn't have been able to deal with it,” he explains. “We ended up having sex and it was really nice to be with another human and in the familiarity of that. For the first time I actually forgot about all the stresses that had been weighing down for weeks.”
Like Rhi, Alex doesn't see himself doing it again. “Aside from the fact that me and my ex are properly over, I did feel bad about the whole thing. If that had been one of my mates I'd have been like 'what the fuck are you doing?' so I get that it's a morally dubious thing to do. But sometimes your body thinks ahead of your mind.”
Regardless of the situation or implications, it seems that some people will always find a way to hook up. And usually that would be a good thing: you do you. But when it comes to a mass pandemic? Maybe, IDK, just hold off for a while? Or literally just be imaginative about how to have sex that doesn't involve being up in someone. I doubt any dick is that good that you should risk spreading a potentially life-threatening disease.
*All names have been changed.