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The pandemic has put a rivalry between two of the most powerful human instincts: self-preservation and reproduction. Scientists at the Kinsey Institute in the United States surveyed more than two thousand respondents to find out how people’s personal lives have changed after the restrictions and quarantines. As it turned out, there was less sex in their lives.
One of the most global studies on interpersonal and sexual relations in the pandemic era, conducts Kinsey Institute for the Study of Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, USA. Since mid-March 2020, more than two thousand people, both free and in relationships, have answered online questions about their attitude to the pandemic and about the changes that are being observed in their sex lives.
The study is still ongoing, but its authors have already presented some of the results. It turned out that prolonged self-isolation and staying at home did not induce the majority of respondents to more frequent sexual contacts – on the contrary, there was less sex in their lives. The participants in the experiment noted a change in the quality of their sex life: 43.5% admitted that their sex life had deteriorated, for 42.8% of the respondents nothing had changed fundamentally, and only 13.6% reported an improvement in their sex life during a pandemic.
Another important element of the survey was the division of respondents into two categories, depending on which political views they adhere to – liberal or conservative.
The results of the study showed that 49% of liberals experienced less sexual desire during the pandemic: during the lockdown, the frequency of having sex decreased markedly among both single people and those who already have a partner. Among conservatives, only 33% faced this: the remaining 67% noted that their sex life had not changed much during the quarantine, or even gotten better. Such a high percentage may be indirectly due to the fact that liberals are more sexually active than conservatives: for the latter, religion and loyalty to traditions play a special role in life, which is hardly combined with a frequent change of partners or the introduction of new practices into sex. Thus, the more sexually active liberals in general noticed a decrease in their sexual activity, while the less active conservatives in the same area hardly noticed the difference.
The reasons for this difference, according to researchers, lie in the fact that liberals, as a rule, perceived the pandemic and the associated risks more sharply. In addition, liberals, the study found, more often than conservatives noted high levels of stress during restrictive measures, complained of loneliness, lack of interest in sex, and even fear of death. Such sentiments of the majority of liberal-minded respondents largely explain the current crisis in the sexual life of American liberals. They admitted that during the pandemic they preferred other types of activity – TV shows, social networks, etc.
In general, if we turn to others According to surveys, survey data show that the pandemic has affected the sex life of every second American: the ratio of those who have changed and those who have remained the same is exactly 50-50.
However, the number of those who have faced a “crisis” in their sex lives is really high. There are quite objective reasons for this, which are indicated by foreign psychotherapists. For example, a specialist in sexual disorders Pamela Stephenson-Connolly, answering a question from a subscriber of The Guardian, notes that a decrease in libido is a natural reaction of the body to difficulties that have arisen in life after the introduction of quarantine. People will experience fear, feelings of loneliness, irritation, even depression, and all this inevitably affects sexual activity. Therefore, as Connolly notes, it is wrong to blame a partner for not being active enough during a pandemic: the absence or lack of sex in a relationship is not due to the fact that one of the partners has lost interest in the other, but to the fact that our body reacts sharply to such radical changes in life, and it is not always possible to fix it.
Canadian sex therapist Diana Melnik also speaks about the naturalness of a lower than usual libido. “A lot of people complain,“ I’m not in the mood to have sex while the world is falling apart, ”Melnik says. “Lack of sexual interest and emotions like that are completely normal.” If this state of affairs becomes a serious problem in a relationship, then the introduction of new practices into intimate life and the abandonment of established habits will help correct this situation.
British therapist Annabelle Knight also points out the connection between our emotions and libido. According to her, the reason for low sexual desire really lies in the high levels of stress and even irritability that people experience during a lockdown. “Negative feelings are accompanied by an increase in the level of cortisol in the blood, that is, the stress hormone. It, in turn, suppresses the hormones that are responsible for our interest in sex, ”says Knight.
Each of us in a stressful situation can not only react to it in different ways, but also deal with it in different ways. While one person will find salvation in books or a new hobby, almost completely giving up sex, for another, sex will become a real salvation and a way to distract from what is happening in the world. “To get rid of negative emotions, people tend to use all possible means that they find acceptable,” says British therapist Beverly Hills. “Sex and orgasm itself awaken endorphins in our bodies that help us fight stress,” she adds. Hills’ words are indirectly confirmed by Jessica Leoni, a sexual relations expert working for a popular UK dating service IllicitEncounters.com… “When the world is full of dark events, we tend to look for an outlet that will make us feel happy. Sex has become one of the tools to do this, ”says Leoni. According to her, such behavior – using sex as a way to get rid of stress – has always been characteristic of a person, especially in situations of crisis that would affect all areas of life.