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43% say they feel out of practice and just aren’t used to physical touch. (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
If you’re feeling anxious about being intimate with someone after such a long time without physical touch – you’re not alone.
63% of single people feel nervous at the thought of intimacy and sex after a year of lockdown, according to new research.
The study, conducted by dating app Badoo, found that 41% say they are scared because they don’t know their date’s lifestyle choices, and the risk they pose in terms of Covid-19.
Not only this, but lots of people just haven’t had any physical touch for a really long time because pf the restrictions. So, the idea of sex and intimacy is making some people incredibly nervous.
43% say they feel out of practice and just aren’t used to physical touch. A third (32%) say they’re concerned about the health risks associated with the pandemic, and aren’t willing to put themselves at risk by getting intimate unnecessarily.
Of those who feel anxious, two thirds (62%) said they want to spend more time getting to know someone before being physically intimate than they might have done pre-pandemic.
When it comes to communication, the vast majority (76%) think it’s important to be upfront and honest about the level of intimacy they’re ready for before going on a date.
So, if the thought of getting your kit off in front of someone new is filling you with post-pandemic dread, what can you do about it?
Half of singles say they have missed having sex and getting intimate with others over the last year. So, to help daters get out of their heads and into sex and intimacy, Badoo has partnered with pyschosexual and relationship therapist Aoife Drury to get her expert advice.
‘Connection is vital for us as humans,’ says Aoife. ‘With an airborne virus, lockdowns, and restrictions, Covid has created touch deprivation like we have never seen before.
‘The omission of sex for many single people, may feel overwhelming and cause insurmountable anxiety. It can be scary enough getting back into dating and sex after a long break, let alone when there has been a global pandemic maintained by close contact.
‘However, with some self-compassion and care, alongside time and patience, sex and intimacy can become less daunting and more innate.’
Aoife has shared her top tips for those who fear getting intimate:
Be honest with yourself
‘It’s very brave to re-engage with intimacy and dating after a long time, particularly after the stress inducing year that we have had,’ says Aoife.
She suggests taking your time, and being honest with yourself as to when you are ready.
‘Think about why you are getting back into the dating scene and what your intentions are,’ she adds. ‘Make sure you are doing so for you rather than due to societal pressure or pressure from others.
‘Just because lockdown has eased, doesn’t mean you have to be ready to throw yourself back into everything.’
Tap into yourself
Aoife says sex and intimacy after a long break can feel alien and daunting, so she suggests asking yourself what you need to feel comfortable.
‘If there is anxiety, create some space to look at why that may be – is it because you’re not used to being touched and you’re out of practice, are you worried about catching the virus, or do you simply not know what you’re looking for?’ she asks.
‘Self-awareness is a powerful tool, but equally an important aspect of dating and relationships. Take time to discover what you are looking for in a sexual partner, and what you may need to feel more comfortable.
‘Even try writing it down – it may help you be able to communicate these fears if you need to.’
This year we have all been starved of physical touch. If you’ve lacked touch since before Covid, Aoife says it inevitably could be triggering anxiety.
‘This step forward may not be an easy journey to begin with, so a lovely way to start is with yourself,’ she explains.
‘There are a few things that you could do to help ease back into physical touch that may help you feel more at ease.
‘Start by giving yourself hand and foot massages, or spend time in the bath or shower, recognising the fall and feel of the water on your skin. Investing in a weighted blanket, a big human-sized pillow, or heated eye masks are very comforting options too.
‘Carve out some time for sensual touch too, draw on some mindful masturbation or a sex toy to get you reacquainted and in tune with your body and pleasure.’
‘When you are out on dates, be the real and authentic you!’ says Aoife.
‘Try not to let the lack of real life dating over the past year affect you. Own the authentic parts of your sexuality that make you unique and intrinsic.’
She suggests that you embrace your pleasure and share what makes you feel good with a sexual partner.
‘Vulnerability is courageous, but it also encourages others to be too,’ Aoife adds.
‘Authentic sexual experiences are far more enjoyable when there is honesty and communication. Embrace who you are and allow yourself to shine through, sex will be far more fun.’
‘Although sex is daunting and can feel very anxiety provoking when it’s been off the table for a while, it can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health,’ says Aoife.
‘With dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin flying around it can help give your mood a boost. Try to frame it as an opportunity to meet somebody new, and to learn about yourself.
‘Enjoy the added benefits that it can bring to both physical and mental wellbeing.’
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