Improving your sex life in lockdown: Indian couples share their secrets
How to navigate through obstacles and keep the spark alive
The idea of two adults quarantined together in a house sounds like the beginning of an exciting porno. With no office to go to, commute to stress over and late-night work calls, the state-sponsored intimacy sounds like a dream for time-starved urban couples. Your sex life in lockdown should be off the charts.
But when you’re stuck with your partner in a small space 24×7, tired from housework, anxious about the virus and exhausted from fighting idiots on Whatsapp and FB, feeling sexy feels like another chore on your never-ending list.
“After spending the entire day cleaning the house and sweating in line at the grocery store, I just don’t want to be touched,” says Rashmi Shetty.
Being separated from each other as they travelled for work or spent a large part of the day in office got her excited to see her partner after a long day.
“Now, we’re together all the time. Initially, our sex life in lockdown was exciting, but now it’s slowed to a trickle. We’ve become slobs involved in our work and chores, constantly angry at the news. You’re just too tired or angry by the end of it,” she adds, talking about the struggle to keep the spark alive.
Understanding the dip in your sex life in lockdown
Therapist Esther Perel writes in her book, Mating in Captivity, “With too much distance, there can be no connection. But too much merging eradicates the separateness of two distinct individuals. Then there is nothing more to transcend, no bridge to walk on, no one to visit on the other side, no other internal world to enter.”
“When people become fused—when two become one—connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.”
Sex on tap can be glorious, exciting and an excuse to experiment. But for others, it can be frustrating, especially when you take into consideration the traditional Indian living situation.
“I live with my in-laws so that is a challenge and the quarantine seems to have made them louder than before. It’s not pleasant to hear their voices while having sex. Thank god for music,” says Zoe Shah*.
Speaking to couples across the country, I noticed that the average sex life in lockdown swings like a pendulum, going from Duracell bunny on one end to touch-me-not on the other. While there isn’t one specific method to get your attraction back on track, read on for real-life accounts from couples who have been there, and are doing ‘it’.
Fight the blues: Disconnect from constant COVID-19 updates
“You get these random thoughts about the fleeting nature of life during a pandemic that you have a ‘seize the day’ attitude. Which in lockdown for me, meant a ‘transformative’ haircut to make me feel in control, a daily fitness challenge and all kinds of sex with my partner,” laughs Anam K Anand.
The thrill wore off as the days went by and that’s when the mundaneness seeped in.
The paradox of the lockdown is that you have easy access to sex, sure, but the constant anxiety and fear that hands in the air won’t let you get into the mood. “Now we’re at the stage where I just want to cuddle for some comfort,” adds Anand.
The storm of uncertainty has us on edge more than usual.
Between repeatedly washing your hands, worrying about whether you should or shouldn’t sanitise your food packets and vegetables, getting flooded with information (and misinformation) on social media, it’s easy to dip into a dark mindset.
“Sex becomes the last thing on your mind when all we’re thinking about is keeping our family safe,” says Shweta Taneja*. The last time Taneja felt sexy and was intimate with her husband was two months ago, pre COVID-19.
Make the extra effort: Plan a date night
Realising the lockdown-induced dry spell, some couples are making that extra effort to bring sex back on the table. “When we hit the 21-day lockdown marker, we both realised that we hadn’t had sex even once during the time. That’s not normal for us, we had to talk about it and get back in the groove,” says Medha Singh*
Singh and her partner decided to start an official date night twice a week. They both get ready and all made up, head to the living room for an at-home date. “We’re trying to get to know each other again. Rediscover the things we’ve forgotten. Sometimes, we even watch a steamy movie together to get things going.”
Rhea Bannerjee and her partner try and look good for each other and designate ‘wine nights’. Sexy lingerie is her pro-tip. “Even though I’m wearing PJs, I’m always prepared with the good stuff underneath, just in case things get sexy suddenly,” she laughs.
Be spontaneous: Try things you never had time for before
Sex had almost become a mechanical routine for Anjum Damodar, because life was so scheduled.
Now, they have no office to go to, children to care for and flexible work deadlines. They surprise each other more, catch each other off-guard. “We had a conversation about experimenting a little in bed too. Now’s the time, right?”
Damodar and her partner had never had such a conversation before. Soon they realised it was something they both had wanted to do but never mustered up the courage to talk about.
The lockdown was the best thing for their sex life. It wasn’t until then that they realised the rut they were headed for.
Keep the spark alive: Use the time to rediscover each other
Halfway through the lockdown, Nikita Jaiswal and her partner knew they had to have this conversation. It wasn’t just going to be about dividing house chores, but also sharing the responsibility of initiating sex with each other.
“We had gotten into a rut of just being in our pyjamas, working from the bed, watching some TV show and going to sleep,” she says. “I started feeling like we were an old married couple. This was not what the kind of relationship either of us signed up for.”
They started getting frustrated with each other, eventually talking it out and setting guidelines. They now have work hours, ‘worry time’ that involves the day’s news and voicing their anxieties, and the night is reserved for them. This is their time together, reading to each other, playing drinking games — it’s about communication and intimacy.
Lockdown or not, every long-term relationship falls into a routine – comfortable domestication that needs a shake-up every once in a while. Use this time to reclaim the passion with which you fell in love with your partner.
Even if your sex life in lockdown has been a snooze, it’s only temporary.
Do something together that’s not a chore, share a hot chai on your WFH lunch break and plan your next date. Leave each other little erotic love notes and explore each other’s bodies (and yourselves).
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* Names have been changed to protect privacy