😮 It’s Masturbation Month on Swell! This May, we’re bringing you all the ways self-love can improve and affect your life—whether you’re partnered or not. 😮
It’s no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has affected every area of our lives. Even those of us fortunate enough to be well (and quarantined with our partners) are dealing with cabin fever and work-from-home stress, not to mention a barrage of bad news. How are these new circumstances affecting couples’ masturbation routines? We asked five people in relationships to share.
To be honest, my routine has not changed too much since all this began. My partner and I live in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom so privacy isn’t much of a thing. We have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about masturbation, generally speaking, and coronavirus hasn’t changed that. Normally I really only masturbate when one of us is out of town, which of course has not happened for a couple of months now. He knows I don’t like it when he masturbates in the bed (at least not when I am in it!), so either I’ve been sleeping really hard lately, or he hasn’t been doing that as much.
I would guess that both our sex drives are lower than they were before the pandemic. We’re both stressed out about work, which has ramped up for both of us—I’m a union organizer, and he’s a journalist, and the pandemic is wreaking havoc on people in both of our fields in very serious ways—and so our hours are erratic. It’s harder to find a good work/life balance when you’re not actually going into an office, and the mental and emotional fallout of that is probably what’s affecting both of our masturbation habits the most at the moment.
Shortly before the quarantine started, I began taking anti-anxiety meds, which seem to be killing my sex drive overall. (Not to mention the additional anxiety of the current pandemic.) So it’s hard to pinpoint one single thing as the cause. Ugh. [My girlfriend and I] don’t really masturbate in the same bed—if we’re both horny and in the same place, which is obviously very frequent now, we just have sex.
Yeah, I’m probably “procrasturbating” more than the ideal, but… uh, self-care! Right?
Normally I masturbate on nights we’re apart, and these days I sometimes will during the day if my girlfriend’s out of the house getting essential items, which isn’t more than once a week. So if anything, even though I’m home all day, I’m masturbating less now than I did before.
E (M.’s partner), 24
What she said! Except that I actually think we sometimes do masturbate in the same bed, just… not at the same time or while we’re both in it. I try to stay away from the bed in general while working from home, but on the days when all three of us (we have a roommate) are here, Zooming into meetings or classes, the bed’s sometimes the only option. And when I end up working there all day, then it’s easier to take a break to masturbate than if I had set up, say, at the kitchen table. On those days, yeah, I’m probably “procrasturbating” more than the ideal, but… uh, self-care! Right?
I masturbate every night before bed, and that’s remained consistent since the pandemic began. At this point it’s kind of a sleep aid for me. Overall, my routine hasn’t been that different since this started, because I never plan more than a few days ahead anyway. But my husband has been taking it hard. He’s a big short- and long-term planner, and all those plans have kind of disintegrated, with no clear future in sight. So he’s been a little ball of tension, and won’t give himself any release (sexual or otherwise).
It’s a little less clear when the shift into sexual stuff happens, because all the other aspects of our lives are taking place in the home now.
We’ve been married for a decade, and by now I know better than to try and change his way of dealing with this, although I did give him a helping hand the other day—I just knew he really needed it, and would feel more relaxed afterwards. We’re both in academic programs that have transitioned online, so we’re both at home in our studio apartment all day. Suffice it to say, there’s not much sex going on right now. Maybe we do it like once a month. But honestly, I’m so glad that we have each other. I feel way worse for the people who live alone, and single folks who’ve had any opportunity for physical contact ripped away from them for the foreseeable future.
I masturbate significantly less now, because my schedule’s been wonky, and my bed has become my work station, so it’s hard to transition between moods. When I do feel in the mood, it’s more often in the middle of the day, which is kind of disorienting because it feels like masturbating at work! So I usually don’t do it—too weird. My partner and I masturbate at different times, from what he tells me. Pre-coronavirus, mutual masturbation sometimes played into our sex life, but there’s been less of that since quarantine too. I would say overall, it’s just a little less clear when the shift into sexual stuff happens, if that makes sense, because all the other aspects of our lives are taking place in the home now. It’s like we don’t have walls against the outside world anymore, in a way, so intimate time is harder to carve out. Ironic, right?
Anna Breslaw is a freelance writer based in New York.