The new lockdown restrictions mean you’ll have to cut back contact to your household or bubble. But just because Netflix and chill is off the table for lovers living apart, it doesn’t mean you have to put everything on hold.
In fact, the UK’s first lockdown saw many couples resorting to Zoom, whether it was to make the same meals, share a glass of wine, watch a film together, and for some it meant trying their hand at virtual sex. In fact, during the first lockdown half (50%) of 25 to 34-year-olds connected with their partners the most through video sex.*
It seems the UK’s new found love for virtual intimacy in April extended beyond government restrictions and carried on into everyday life with new research of 4,000 UK respondents from sexual wellness brand LELO revealing that on balance, one in five (21%) have been more sexually intimate virtually than they have in person.**
The younger generations are most sexually intimate online with 36% of those aged 18-24 admitting they have spent more time being sexually active online than in person. Although it may not come as naturally for those older, one in ten (11%) aged between 55 and 64 say they are more sexually active virtually, than in real life.
Those who identify as transexual are in fact having more virtual sex than in person sex. This is followed by those who are pansexual or bicurious (37%), bisexual (36%), asexual (35%), homosexual (30%) and heterosexual (18%).
It seems those who are living with a partner, aren’t choosing to miss out on some online fun with one in five (20%) saying they are more sexually intimate online than in person.
Sexpert for LELO UK Kate Moyle comments: “The way that we navigate our experience of lockdown is going to be dependent on who we are as individuals and in our relationships. Some couples may find it easy to adapt to a new way of being sexual, and moving their sex life to virtual rather than in-person experiences; and others may find the experience anxiety provoking and would rather avoid it. Humans are by nature adaptive, but for many this may be experienced as a lack of desire, or as managing their wants on their own with self-pleasure, and for others they may be trying a new type of sex. Couples that are open to mixing things up may find it an easier transition and may find communicating about it, if this is something they are already comfortable with, naturally fits more with their way of being.
“The reality for some relationships, is that by being in a long-distance relationship (without it being what they thought that they were signing up for) and there being uncertainty of when they will next see each other, that sexting, phone or video sex is a way of maintaining chemistry and the erotic connection between them, and for many it’s the only option available to them. So it’s not a surprise that we have seen a rise in phone and video sex figures.”
It doesn’t feel like a huge jump for us to have taken our sex lives online in the way that we have every other aspect of our lives. We can do almost anything via technology now and most of us spend the majority of our day relating to others and connecting through some kind of screen. If you thinking about migrating your sex life online then Kate says there are definitely a few things to consider:
1. Talk about it in advance.
It doesn’t have to be a formal sit down discussion, but talk it over with each other so that you know you are on the same, or at least similar pages. If you are the initiating partner then you have had time to get your head around it, whereas the other partner may feel a bit sprung upon if you just move from chatting about your day, onto trying phone sex for the first time.
2. Set some ground rules.
You have to be able to trust your partner with your content. Although if they use it against you it is an illegal act (revenge porn), the last thing you want to be is distracted in the moment by worrying about what they may do with your nudes. If you are trying sexting and sending sexy photos then think about keeping your face out of photos so that they aren’t identifiable, and you and your partner can agree about deleting them after a certain amount of time, or making sure that they don’t upload onto any clouds or computer back ups.
3. Seek some inspiration.
A lot of people find that it’s tricky to know where to get started so listen to some erotica (Ferly App has sensual stories) or audio pornography to spark your imagination and get some tips / pointers for the language that they use. If you are still feeling nervous start your sexual encounter by talking about a sexual experience that you had before, so that it can kick start both of your imaginations as you think back to that time. And if you need a bit of help getting there, LELO’s Sona 2 Cruise is destined to make the perfect lockdown buddy.
4. Know where your no is.
There are many ways of having sex virtually sexting, phone sex, sending photos, and video calling. Consider what you are happy with, and what you aren’t and know your no. It’s about personal preference, when we are having in-person sexual experiences we don’t all like exactly the same thing, it’s no different here.
Marcella Zanchi from LELO UK adds: “It comes as no surprise that we’ve seen a shift towards virtual intimacy given the current climate across the UK. Sex can help reduce stress and anxiety and increase happiness, so it’s comforting to know that despite many of us being separated from our partners, we’re still able to intimately connect with each other virtually. And for those who don’t currently have a partner, LELO encourages you to practice self love. Maintaining self love, intimacy and wellness is a key part of mental and physical health and wellbeing, and it is even more important during times of uncertainty like we’re experiencing now.”
*Survey of 2,000 UK respondents aged 18 and over, conducted 23rd-29th April 2020 by LELO **Survey of 4,000 UK respondents aged 18-65+, conducted 16th-21st October 2020 by LELO