How to Make Love, Relationships and Sex Work During a Global Pandemic

By Dr. Jess Relationships relationship challenges during COVID

With lockdowns, travel restrictions, social distancing, and work from home orders across the globe, it’s fair to say that the COVID 19 pandemic has affected everything in our lives — from the boardroom to the bedroom and beyond.

Relationships, of course, have not been immune and many couples report feelings of disconnection, an increase in conflict and stress, and a decrease in desire for sex and intimacy. This all makes sense, of course, given that amidst the pandemic we’re dealing with overexposure, emotional exhaustion, grief, uncertainty, and a prolonged period of transition.

The good news is that there are a variety of strategies you can employ to reconnect and reignite the spark and they only take a few minutes per day.

  1. Start the day with one minute of connection.

    Rather than waking up to your email, news feed, or social media circle, wake up to your partner. Snuggle up against them, take a few deep breaths in sync or rest your head on their chest to listen to their heartbeat. You’re likely to reduce stressors, feel more at ease, connected, grateful, and grounded after just 60 seconds of intentional physical closeness.

start your day with connection

  1. Ease up on the pressure.

    It’s okay if you’re feeling a bit disconnected. And it’s unsurprising that sex may be the farthest thing from your mind. For many, this time a to survive — not thrive, so go easy on yourselves. If you find yourself feeling cranky and snappy over the little things (a dirty dish in the sink, a towel on the floor, a loud-talking phone call while you’re trying to concentrate), shift your focus to something lighter: envision your favorite part of their body or recall how you felt the last time you made out.

  1. Have more meaningful conversations.

    Oftentimes, the passion fades in relationships because our conversations become reduced to the dark triad of mundanity: kids/family, work, and schedules. If all you talk about is your family, your work, and your calendars, boredom is sure to creep in, so consider adding in a layer of emotion by shifting the conversations to deeper, more meaningful topics. You can use these conversations prompts to get started:

    • When do you feel most loved?
    • What is your fondest memory from childhood?
    • What do you remember most about our first date?
    • If you could have lunch with anyone from history, whom would you choose and why?
    • What family values from your upbringing do you want to pass along to the next generation?
    • What impact do you want to leave on this world? How do you want to be remembered?
    • What would you change about your childhood if you could choose one edit?
    • If you could have a phone call with the President today, what would you talk about?
    • What can I do to support you when you’re feeling stressed out?

Each prompt may lead to another, so remain open to an evolving conversation and enjoy getting to know your partner on a deeper level. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation to remind us of all the ways they’re more than a roommate or co-parent.

meaningful conversation with your partner

  1. Carve out alone time.

    You don’t have to do everything together even if you’re isolated in a small space. Sit down at the beginning of the week to talk about your schedules and decide what time you’ll spend together and apart. Of course, you can remain flexible but bear in mind that spending time apart can help to release tension, build a desire for connection and create the mystery needed for that sexual spark in a relationship.

  1. Interrupt your day with 60 seconds of affection.

    If you hear your partner on a tense phone call, sneak up from behind and give them a one-minute shoulder rub. If you have a break between meetings, slide up next to them and massage their hand. If you’re cooking together, give them a long hug while they’re chopping the vegetables. And if they’re having a rough day, hold their hand, massage their forehead or take seven deep breaths with your foreheads pressed together. Physical affection offers a host of health and relational benefits ranging from lower levels of pain and anxiety to greater feelings of closeness and empathy, so consider breaking the monotony of your day with just one minute of physical closeness and observe how it affects the way you feel about yourself and your partner. 

couple showing affection

  1. Minimize technoference.

    The mere presence of digital devices in a room can detract from connection, empathy, trust, and attraction, so consider creating tech-free times and spaces. Perhaps you begin by banning your tech from the bedroom for just one night per week and then increasing slowly until the bedroom eventually becomes tech-free. Or perhaps you put your phones in a drawer or closet during dinner for one evening per week so that you don’t accidentally find yourself scrolling. Even when we have the best of intentions, our reliance on tech can creep in and interfere with in-person connections. Technology has the potential to deepen connections, but if we aren’t mindful of its use, it can interfere with our ability to be present and move through life mindfully.

connecting with your partner during quarantine

However you’re feeling at this time, go easy on yourself and your partner. You don’t have to resolve every issue, explore every intimate conversation or have all the sex to have a healthy relationship, but if you invest just a few minutes per day, you’ll likely find yourselves feeling more connected in the short, mid, and long-term.