Who else can’t decide if they’re horny?
There are very few areas of everyday life the coronavirus crisis hasn’t wreaked havoc on. Sex, intimacy, and desire are no exception. Just as your emotions might be all over the place thanks to the many stressful aspects of the pandemic, you might be experiencing some unexpected changes to your sex life, your masturbation or pornography habits, and what you feel and desire in general.
To help normalize the range of feelings and situations you might be dealing with about sex and desire, I asked people to share what’s been coming up for them. If you can relate, you’re definitely not alone. (Some responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
1. You’re freaking horny, damn it.
Listen, we had to start here. For some people the dial has been turned all the way up, whether that’s due to separation from usual sexual partners or a lot of time and space for horniness to thrive. “I’m just as horny as I was pre-pandemic, but being at home means that I can indulge in it at any time,” Kris C., 28, tells SELF. “It’s like my horniness has been unleashed. Without the need to go anywhere but my room, I’ve become a much more frequent masturbator, averaging anywhere from two to five times a day.”
2. You’re masturbating a ton out of boredom.
Masturbation is a time-honored time waster for many. With how much time we’re all spending at home right now, it’s no surprise that a lot of people are turning to masturbation to pass the time. “I’m finding I can’t concentrate on reading or socializing or even watching TV sometimes, so honestly, when I’m bored, I’ll just masturbate,” Alexis K., 32, tells SELF. “Needless to say I’ve been masturbating a lot. Like, a lot a lot.”
3. Or you’re bored of masturbating, TBH.
On the other hand, maybe all the freedom to have as much solo sex as you want has shown you it’s sometimes possible to have too much of a good thing. “I never thought I’d say this, but I’m bored of masturbating,” Hannah R.*, 29, tells SELF. “I think I went too hard the first few weeks of being stuck at home, and now I’m
4. Your mental health tanked your sex drive.
For a lot of people, stress , depression, anxiety, and other mental health effects of the pandemic are getting in the way of their desires to have sex or masturbate. “I have zero desire to have sex,” Emmy D., 26, tells SELF. “I enjoy my spouse, but having a lot of heavy things on my mind has left me a shell of myself. I hope this passes. I can’t even masturbate because I can’t keep my mind off heavy or stressful things long enough. It sucks.”
5. Sex doesn’t feel as good as it used to.
Even if you are having sex, you might be having trouble enjoying it. “I’m more anxious than usual, so having sex is very difficult,” Kim B., 28, tells SELF. “My mind tends to wander and get scared, and I’ve only had sex a couple of times since lockdown started.”
6. Or you just can’t get in the mood.
Rather than feeling like your mental health is getting in the way of your typical desires and habits, maybe you find you’re just…more indifferent than anything. “Most of the time I’ll just think about getting off in the middle of the afternoon but then decide to wait until nighttime,” Lane T.*, 21, tells SELF. “But without fail, by nighttime, I just look at my vibrator in its box on the floor by my bed, think, Eh, maybe tomorrow, and play Animal Crossing or watch TikToks instead.”
7. Your pre-pandemic loneliness is exacerbated.
Maybe practically speaking, nothing about your sexual situation has changed, but the circumstances are definitely making you feel a certain way. “I’ve always wanted to date and have sex but haven’t been able to due to lack of interest from others,” Sara T.*, 33, tells SELF. “[Since the pandemic], I see people complain about something temporary that’s my normal. Some people act like not having sex is a huge deal that no one can endure, but that’s not true. Many people like me deal with not having our sexual needs or desires met. It’s tough seeing all these reminders that my average life is someone’s nightmare.”
Uncertainty about the future might also be making you feel worse. “I don’t feel comfortable with casual sex, and since I’ve been single for the past five years, it had already been a while since I’ve had sex,” Laila R.*, 27, tells SELF. “So my normal was already lonely and distant, not exactly by choice. The first two weeks of quarantine were harder because it had already been a while and I was hoping to try something different this year. When quarantine started I realized I wouldn’t be able to for God knows how long.”
8. Your sex life is thriving.
Hey, it’s bound to happen for some people. “After spending 24/7 in quarantine with my fiancé for the past one month and three days—but who’s counting?—I actually find myself wanting sex more,” Jenna F., 27, tells SELF. “Probably because we’re both lucky enough to WFH, and I’m reminded every time he walks by of how handsome he is. My fiancé mentioned how this is probably the most time we’ll ever spend together in our lives, and how it’s a unique opportunity.”
9. You’re disappointed that your sex life hasn’t picked up.
It’s not wild to think that certain circumstances might lead to your sex life changing for the better—and it’s understandable if you feel a way about that not happening. “I live with my longtime girlfriend, and [before the pandemic] we didn’t have sex very often because we rarely wanted to have sex at the same time,” Laura B.*, 25, tells SELF. “I was hoping that time at home would mean we would have sex more, but unfortunately we’re still out of sync. I’m furloughed, and she’s working her stressful job from home. I’m jealous of the people who say their sex lives have improved in the pandemic.”
10. You feel really unsexy.
I can’t think of anything more understandable than not feeling sexy during a literal pandemic when we’re all stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean it’s exactly fun. “I’m horny but I just feel too gross to do anything about it,” Meredith R., 25, tells SELF. “I live alone and have some partners I frequently sext and swap pics with, but it’s not happening. I spend most of my time sitting around in dirty pj’s, eating, and feeling ugly. You couldn’t pay me to take a nude right now.”
11. You’re more touch-starved than sex-starved.
Plenty of people are feeling a lack of physical intimacy in a big way right now, and for a lot of them, it’s not sexual. “I’m pretty touch-starved, even pre-pandemic, so unless I’m really horny I’m usually more romantically frustrated over sexually frustrated,” Miranda J.*, 28, tells SELF. “I just want to cuddle and be near someone more than I want sex. Right now, I want hugs more than anything.”
12. You’ve made some realizations about your relationship.
Just like moving in together for the first time can highlight aspects of a relationship, so can being stuck together 24/7 under a pandemic lockdown—and sometimes those discoveries aren’t really positive. It’s not exactly a convenient time to find cracks in your relationship, but you’re not alone if you are. “The first week of quarantine, I was really excited about all the [extra] time I would have to spend cuddling, kissing, having sex, that sort of thing,” Mona W., 29, tells SELF. “My partner and I both work a ton, so we always feel like we don’t have enough time to do those things. Well, turns out our schedules weren’t the only thing getting in the way. It only took two weeks to discover our relationship has totally lost its spark. I don’t really know what to do, so I’ve been saying my sex drive is off because of the pandemic, but I’ll have to deal with the fact I don’t want to have sex with him at some point.”
You don’t have to be stuck together to make some realizations either. “Being apart from my boyfriend, I realized what I thought was a lack of libido was pretty much just a lack of desire for him,” Lana P.*, 25, tells SELF. “I’ve been dreaming about sex, watching porn (which is very rare for me), even Googling straight male escorts for escapism. I think I realized how much our sex life sucks by taking a break from it.”
13. Or you’re learning new things about yourself.
Hey, now might just be the perfect time for some exploration and discovery. “I’ve started watching a lot more porn and learned a lot more about my tastes and my kinks in the process,” Jane D., 28, tells SELF. “It’s been nice. Maybe I will learn to become more comfortable with my sexuality.”
14. You’ve branched out with your porn and erotica consumption.
Speaking of exploration, porn habits came up a lot. “I feel like a parody of a lonely, single, horny person in quarantine, but the type of porn I enjoy has changed drastically in the past two weeks, since isolation really started hitting me hard,” Jay F., 28, tells SELF. “I’ve been watching a lot of romantic stuff, bonus if there’s [a] plot because it makes me feel like I have an emotional connection, which is what I’m really missing because I can’t date right now. I’ve also gotten into public-places porn. Not even because it feels more taboo now, which I’ve seen people say, but because I’m like, Man, that looks nice. I could really go for fucking in a park right now.”
15. You really miss flirting and casual intimacy.
You don’t really realize the small, exciting moments you experience every day until they’re gone, huh? “I’ve been married and monogamous for almost 10 years, but I like flirting lightly with the good-looking barista, my hot yoga instructor, some male friends, et cetera,” Corey H., 39, tells SELF. “Now I can’t flirt with anyone. Gone are the days when I’d go to the coffee shop during downtime and chit-chat with the barista or purposefully screw up a yoga pose so the hot instructor would come adjust me. I’m just bored and want to flirt again. I love my husband and don’t want to cheat; I just want to feel pretty and desired.”
16. You’re feeling more emotional and intense.
You might be caught off guard at some by the emotions bubbling up around sex and intimacy right now. “I’ve been dating through the pandemic and have been talking and sexting with one person from a dating app in particular,” Justin M., 30, tells SELF. “I’m afraid that all of this is creating a false sense of intimacy. I know the world isn’t ending, but everything feels so dramatic. I found myself almost saying ‘I love you’ when we were masturbating over video together.”
Given the circumstances, heightened emotions might be the norm across the board. “[I’m] secretly having weekly penetrative sex with my platonic-ish best friend,” Ann C.*, 27, tells SELF. “That sex now feels more emotional since everything feels more emotional.”
17. You’re experiencing sexual dysfunction.
FYI, depending on your experience, some of the stuff we already covered on this list might fall under the umbrella of sexual dysfunction, even if they’re not the sorts of things you typically associate with the term. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are four main categories of sexual dysfunction: desire disorders (the lack of sexual desire), arousal disorders (the inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity), orgasm disorders (the delay or inability to have an orgasm), and pain disorders (pain during intercourse). Given that many causes of sexual dysfunction are psychological (like stress or relationship troubles), it’s not surprising if you’re dealing with it now.
“My dick stopped working for a few weeks as I processed grief,” Xavier J., 32, tells SELF. “[I’m] currently able to achieve and maintain erection, but not much stimulates me anymore. Pornography has lost most of its effect.”
18. You haven’t gone through any major changes, actually.
Maybe you’re reading through this list and not connecting with any of it—that’s cool too. “ I’m asexual, so it’s admittedly been kind of amusing to watch people freak out about not getting to have sex because of the pandemic,” Amanda B., 20, tells SELF. “Not much has changed for me, other than feeling grateful I guess that I have one less thing to worry about during all this.”
19. You’re experiencing something different every other day.
Like anything right now, how you experience sex and desire is bound to change, so don’t worry if you’re super horny one day and couldn’t fathom being touched the next. There’s a chance you’ll go through multiple things on this list, either at once or in cycles. It’s all about taking it one day at a time.
*Names have been changed to grant anonymity upon request.
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