Sexual Skill-Building in the age of COVID19 **adults only**
Whether you are sheltered in place with your partner/spouse, or FWB (friend with benefits), or are following the new sex advice coming from the Netherlands about the pandemic — singles are allowed one sex partner (buddy) to visit for the remainder of lockdown — you may hope to learn new sexual skills in the age of COVID19.
If you’re engaged in a new relationship, and/or experiencing NRE (new relationship energy) from an outside source, this probably isn’t the best article for you right now.
Otherwise, this pandemic lockdown may be the perfect time to rekindle/reboot things with your sexual partner, add new forms of sexual expression, and improve your physical connection with one another.
It is inevitable that things become too familiar and comfortable (therefore somewhat boring) over time in an LTR (long-term relationship). If that’s what you’re experiencing during this pandemic, take this lockdown time as an opportunity to discover some new ways to explore, express and connect sexually.
Many sex advice-givers go straight to kink when offering alternatives to intercourse in LTRs to “spice things up.” However, often people are lost when it comes to kink. They may not actually be kinky. They may also become scared, confused, or overwhelmed when they start to explore the kink world. I understand this advice is usually meant as a way to introduce novelty into one’s sex life. This can be done through a bit of kink, but that’s not necessary. Let’s break it down…
Dan Savage says something like, “the broader your definition of sex, the more sex you’ll be having.”
This is so important to recognize in all sexual encounters and relationships, especially in LTRs. There’s so much more to sex and sexuality than PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex. The most sexually satisfying relationships broaden their approach to sex and involve much more than genitals. After all, the brain is the biggest, most important erotic organ in the body (fantasies, erotic thoughts…think about it. Ha!!!).
The other sex advice often given is to increase “foreplay.” This is somewhat controversial, sometimes confusing, and also misleading. Foreplay is sex. It’s enough in and of itself, so the word is confusing and misleading. For many queer people who don’t have PIV as part of their sexual repertoire, all the sex they engage in is technically “foreplay.” Again, that’s sex. It’s amazing, wonderful, great and often so much better than PIV alone.
We could all be engaging in more varied kinds of sexual expression for more a well-rounded, fun, fulfilling sex life. Varied/broadened sex makes us feel more bonded/connected. It also comes in handy for the inevitable times of sexual dysfunction — erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation, menopause (vaginal dryness), vulvadynia and other types of painful intercourse. Most people will experience one of these at some point in their lives.
For all my heterosexual/ heteronormative-inclined friends out there, we can surely learn a lot from our queer communities about sex. There’s so much more that we can be doing that feels great, connects us and may help us feel more vulnerable and bonded than PIV. After all, what makes sex good? At least in part, it’s variety, novelty and change. This list is by no means exhaustive, however it is meant to be a jumping off point…
Of course, there’s oral SEX…it’s right there in the name. Yes, this is sex.
Find, explore and discover different types of touch. With fingers, hands, palms, feet, lips, chin…be creative. Start to re-explore your partner and learn how they want to be touched today. It might be different tomorrow and certainly could be different than 10 years ago. Have fun and explore as if you’re just meeting and becoming intimate for the first time all over again.
Self-Sex or Self-Pleasure
Self-sex can be shared. This can be much more erotic than you might think to share your own personal style for masturbation with your partner. It can be useful, informative, fulfilling, pleasurable and new. “Don’t knock it ’til you tried it.”
Studies have shown that deep, passionate kissing for at least 6 seconds (in a row) once per day can help partners feels bonded. This kind of kissing (rather than a peck) can also lead to something deeper once you get going. If you’re willing, the arousal effect can lead to desire for more. Try it sometime.
Moving slower than usual. You probably already know what works for you and your partner within an LTR, so move more slowly and try something different just to learn and discover.
AKA dry humping…go back to high school or college days in your mind. Sex with your clothes on happened a lot, only we didn’t call it sex. But, wasn’t it really? It was erotic and passionate. You were filled with desire. Sometimes you’d climax from it alone. Go back and revisit this with your partner now. It’s like revisiting your youth, but with the wisdom you have now. This is also good for when you don’t have a lot of privacy during lockdown. Or, try it in the car just to switch it up.
This is when using lube with various body parts. This is an especially good one for times when the vagina is off the table. Meaning, there’s pain during intercourse due to several potential reasons, including (but not limited to) vaginismus, vaginal dryness and menopause. This method is about using a good silicone-based personal lubricant (the best out there is Uberlube) and sliding the penis between the butt cheeks, inner thighs, breasts, armpit or labia/vulva (outer vagina basically – though this can be too close for comfort for many women). Basically, if there’s a space between it, you can try it.
Lubes in General
Try different types (water-based, oil-based, silicone-based). You can use them on different body parts or in different ways. With oral sex. With intercourse. On different areas of the body. For massage and touch. You can layer them. Also, you could try and blind touch-test with your partner to determine which kinds you best like the feel. I usually give a ton of free samples to clients and they can try this at home – it’s a great ice-breaker with couples and helps you feel playful and sexual.
Essential oils can be used to feel alert, excited, or relaxed. You can use them in combination with carrier oils for massage/touch and scent. **NOTE: do not use oils in the vagina because there is a risk of a yeast infection or worse.** If you’re really intrigued, you can investigate (Google it) how essential oils can help increase sexual desire and help with hormone balancing (menopause)…that’s a whole different article (read Dr. Mariza Snyder)
Either take out a toy you haven’t used in a while, or go online and find something new together. Why not? This is the time to experiment and explore. Try a vibrator for the first time, or a different kind of vibrator (for all). Jade Eggs or Ben Wa Ball (for women). A masturbation sleeve or cockring (for men). Go shopping online at: GoodVibes
Read Erotica (out loud)
This one is mainly for women, I suppose, since that’s their target audience. However, share some parts you enjoy out loud with your partner(s) as you’re reading. This can help you discover more of what you like most through fantasy and help you both (all) explore together.
There are many more approaches to rediscovering and discovering new sexual encounters than we give our minds permission to explore. Take the time to think outside the box, get creative, free your mind, Google sex or kink lists, then share and discuss a bunch of them with your partner. Visit my previous blog post for even more ideas.
After all, everyone keeps saying we should all come out of this quarantine with a new hobby or skill. Isn’t this the best kind of new skill? It can last a lifetime and could possibly make your overall relationship a lot better/closer (even save a marriage). Start talking and playing with this idea together…you might be surprised with where it takes you.
**This article is published on Medium, and can be read here.
Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist working in private practice in Princeton, NJ. She also provides online therapy with clients living in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationships. For more information, please check out her website.