CAN’T remember the last time another adult saw you naked, or a time when you and your other half made love before going to sleep?
You are most likely one of the many thousands of victims of the Great British Sex Drought — a celibate spell brought on by pressures of the pandemic.
Brits share their sex life since Covid began as thousands are stuck in the Great British Sex Drought David CummingsSingle Jen Tripp used to love having no-strings sex before Covid struck, but today she says ‘If I am single for the rest of my life, that’s fine’[/caption]
Whether that means social distancing putting the kibosh on meet-ups for singles, financial and childcare stress affecting couples, or worries over health — almost half of Brits have reported a slump in their sex lives since the pandemic.
Single Jen Tripp used to love having no- strings sex before Covid-19 struck, but now when she browses dating apps like Hinge her heart — nevermind her libido — isn’t in it.
Unlike women who missed the buzz of hooking up with someone new, the pandemic has put a huge dampener on 31-year-old Jen’s interest in sex. “Before the pandemic, I was very sexually active,” says Londoner Jen, an operations manager.
“I’ve never really been into one-night stands, but I had a couple of years where I was enjoying trusted “friends with benefits” relationships. I was open to trying new things and experimenting with sex. Sex was fun and I couldn’t imagine it not being in my life.”
But like many others, Jen is now stuck in a sex sabbatical. It is 18 months since she saw action. Indeed, one study revealed that 43.5 per cent of us have seen a decline in our sex life since the pandemic began.
Both singles and couples have been going off sex in droves, with online searches for “no sex drive whatsoever” going up by 650 per cent during December. Jen says her sex drive now is unrecognisable compared with how it was before the pandemic.
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She says: “Put it this way, my vibrating dildo went through multiple battery changes during the first lockdown. At first, I stayed on the dating apps and chatted to guys. When restrictions lifted in summer 2020, I met up with someone I’d been talking to for a few months.
“After going on several dates at bars and hitting it off, we ended up having sex, but something was missing. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy myself with this guy, because I did, but sex with another person wasn’t better than anything I can do for myself.
“He was nice, but I didn’t really see a relationship future there, so I just couldn’t see the point in bothering. Going out and meeting someone new and dating started to feel like a huge effort.”
That was the last time Jen had sex and rather than going on dates that could be disappointing, she has given up sex completely until she finds someone who ticks the boxes in every area of her life. She says: “I am very happy and if I am single for the rest of my life, that’s fine.”
But it isn’t just singles who have seen a sharp decline in their libido. Those in long-term relationships are feeling it too.
A survey commissioned by erectile dysfunction support movement Time To Raise It found that for 30 per cent of couples, the pandemic had negatively impacted their sex lives, with 29 per cent feeling less inclined to be intimate and 28 per cent too worn out to be physical.
More than a quarter of people said they had found it harder to connect with their partner and 34 per cent reported that they were bickering more. Mum-of-three Katherine Storr, 37, social media manager and journalist, has been in a relationship with husband Matthew, 38, a project manager, for 20 years and married for eight.
They were getting their sex life back on track pre-Covid after having their twin boys, now almost three. They also have an older son who is five. Katherine, who lives in Tooting, South London, says: “Prior to the pandemic we had managed a few weekends away, just the two of us, which was lovely.
“I wouldn’t say it was a busy sex life — we had sex once or twice a week — but probably similar to most other parents with very young children. However, when the pandemic began sex fell off the agenda completely. We were juggling the three children with full-time jobs and keeping on top of cooking and cleaning.
“It wasn’t just that we were tired — it wasn’t even on our minds. I have no idea how many weeks would go by before we’d realise that we should probably have sex. Then it sometimes felt functional — like we were ticking it off our list.
I have no idea how many weeks would go by before we’d realise that we should probably have sex.
Katherine Storr, 37
“We couldn’t go on date nights and because we weren’t getting dressed up, I didn’t feel sexy or attractive. I struggled to fit in exercise and so put on some weight, which didn’t make me feel like myself.”
When schools reopened and with the couple both working from home, Matthew tried to re-introduce sex.
Katherine says: “Matthew would always suggest a ‘quickie’ but I have never found it easy to just switch it on and off and drop everything to have sex right there and then. In June this year Matthew had a vasectomy and thought we’d have more sex because we didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, but our sex life has probably got even quieter.
“When we could start mixing with friends again, we started going out separately and seeing friends for the first time in a year. This meant we were coming home late and didn’t see one another, or didn’t feel like sex after a few drinks.
“I think Matthew is frustrated that I don’t have the same sex drive I used to have. He doesn’t ever make me feel guilty about it but he is definitely the one who initiates sex most of the time.”
The frequency of sex has been decreasing steadily in the UK for decades — 20 years ago, we were having it more than six times a month, a decade ago it was less than five times. And the fertility rate has dropped from 1.93 children per female a decade ago to 1.53 children this year. But the pandemic has accelerated the sex flop.
Psychologist Emma Kenny says: “For nearly two years many people have been covering their faces, sanitising themselves within an inch of their lives and avoiding social activities for fear of coming down with Covid.
“It has been an alienating and isolating time for millions and, unsurprisingly, this has had an impact on our sex lives. To have meaningful relationships or even casual sex, we need to trust the world around us and that hasn’t been possible during the pandemic.”
Sex expert Alix Fox says: “This sharp decrease is down to a variety of factors including stress, anxiety about health, money and the future, arguments sparked by being under each other’s feet, difficulty getting contraception from the doctor’s and lockdown weight affecting confidence. Tiredness caused by working and schooling from home all meant that our sex drives plummeted while we were trapped beneath our own roofs.”
Alix explains that because of the pandemic, singles are yearning for an emotional connection after spending months alone due to restrictions and no longer want no-strings sex.
Writer Jenny Paul, 49, from Bristol, has been single for six years and says the pandemic has moved her focus to finding a meaningful relationship instead of looking for casual flings. The last time Jenny had sex was two years ago.
She says: “For me, sex starts in the mind. I don’t want to chat about nonsense to some bloke, I have my mates for that. I want to fall wildly in love and be swept off my feet.”
Tiredness caused by working and schooling from home all meant that our sex drives plummeted while we were trapped beneath our own roofs.
Sex expert Alix Fox
Before the pandemic, Jen dated men she met through friends who came “pre-vetted”, but two recent dates with men she met on Tinder, coupled with feeling cautious about meeting strangers in person, has put her off dating. She says: “After lockdown last summer I did force myself to go on the dating app Tinder because that really became the only way to meet people.
“I met a guy, and he was lovely, but when we met I felt anxious because I knew nothing about him other than what I’d read in his profile. We said our goodbyes after just one drink. Then I went on another date with an older Swedish guy. He turned up drunk with the firm idea that the plan was we’d hook up sexually.
“When I made it clear I would not have sex with him he sent me a stream of moody texts — and photos of his privates. I blocked him. If I stay single for ever, I’m fine with it. Most people I know in relationships are all stressed, miserable and in the middle of divorcing or splitting up, and I’m much happier anyway.”
Karen Green, 55, from Colchester, runs her own business — The Food Mentor. She and her superyacht engineer partner Bill Gray, 59, are another couple whose libidos have crashed.
She says: “We moved in together at the start of the first lockdown, after meeting through a dating app. We managed a socially distanced walk together, followed by a drink at mine a few weeks later.
“It became a whirlwind romance and we fell madly in love. We became really experimental in bed, and I loved trying out new positions and sex toys. We had sex outdoors and in the back of the car. It was intense, and we had sex two or three times a day. The world was going mad due to Covid, but we were having more sexual fun than I had ever had.
You can have too much of a good thing and we had so much sex during the pandemic we got bored.
Karen Green, 55
“I am more body confident than I have ever been because I know that true love and mutual attraction are way more than skin deep. So it was special to have the time to enjoy a deeply sexual relationship during lockdown.”
But the couple have tired of their adventurous sex sessions and now prefer quality over quantity. The last time they made love was the first week of December. Karen says: “You can have too much of a good thing and we had so much sex during the pandemic we got bored.
“We rarely have sex more than four times a month now. But don’t get me wrong, we do make it count. I actually schedule it into my diary.” Bill adds: “We are very much in love, and I am wildly passionate about Karen, but there’s much more to life than having sex.”
Mum-of-three Katherine Storr, with husband Matthew, says ‘ When the pandemic began sex fell off the agenda completely’ SuppliedWriter Jenny Paul, 49, had sex two years ago and reveals ‘If I stay single forever, I’m fine with it’[/caption] SuppliedKaren Green with partner Bill Gray says ‘We rarely have sex more than four times a month now’[/caption]
Now get your MOJO back
FLEX THE SEX MUSCLE: It takes 21 days to form a habit and you should treat sex this way. More than 40 per cent of women have sex just once a week – in part because we tend to prioritise other things. Commit to having sex every day for three weeks, even if these are five-minute quickies. It will help make sexual pleasure part of daily life.
PLEASE YOURSELF: The better you know your body, research suggests, the more satisfied you will feel when you are with a partner. So be sure to find out what truly hits the spot for you.
DON’T OVERTHINK: More than 70 per cent of us crave spontaneous sex because it is exciting and there is no time to overthink the situation. Live in the moment. Instead of waiting for bedtime, rev things up by grabbing your partner whenever the moment takes you.
SKIP THE SHOWER: Sex presents us with various smells, tastes and textures. Embrace them and enjoy them.
BRAINSTORM TOGETHER: In a couple? Talk through each of your sexual fantasies and commit to ticking off your top five over a month. Research shows anticipation adds to the thrill of sex and leads to improved satisfaction.