Unfortunately for many there appears to be a void in our human contact during this global pandemic. From handshakes and hugs to kissing and intimate bonding - many forms of our expression and sensation of others have been removed from our daily lives. We struggle to reconcile social distancing with our desire to touch and be touched. For those most at risk, the elderly, the immuno-compromised or those with pre-existing conditions, the strain of extended isolation has been crushing. What can we do?
Focus on quality over quantity: For those who do have live-in companions and partners, it is important to realize that while your particular interactions may not have been impacted by the pandemic, each of you overall still have been. The number of social interactions for most people have sharply dropped - along with the physical interactions that our human psyche needs. We are sensory beings and our body has chemical responses to even the most casual of touches. Prolonged loss of this physical stimulus has emotional repercussions; increased stress, lack of empathy and even a greater likelihood of depression. To fill the physical void in our loved ones, we should make an conscious effort to raise the level of our own interactions with them. These can be:
- Sit closer when watching a show or movie. Instead of relaxing on your favorite recliner, choose to sit together on a couch and let your bodies touch one another.
- Take a walk outside and reach for their hand. Along with daily exercise, another important need for the human body, a walk is a perfect time to intertwine hands and share contact.
- Offer a back rub, foot rub or even a hand rub. Invest time in your partner to fill up their physical sensory needs.
- Dance together! Seriously, put some music on in the kitchen when preparing meals and move with your companion. Believe it or not, dancing can raise your immune system too!
- Increase sexual frequency: If you're going out less, entertaining company less and simply experiencing less, fill the time by expanding the number of sexual interactions with your partner.
Don't be afraid to ask for physicality but respect the boundaries of others: It is important to remember that while the coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, we are well aware of how. Wearing masks, keeping one's hands away from their face (along with frequent washing) and a few steps of distance will go a long way to ensuring one's safety. Especially outdoors, it is possible to responsibly make contact with another. For those we are closest to, we should feel comfortable expressing the needs for physical contact. We can ask for a hug from a family member or to hold hands with special friend. Even if they express discomfort, acknowledging the desire for physical interaction demonstrates the value placed in the relationship. These interactions can be done carefully and safely while alleviating the physical void within us. At the same time be receptive to other's needs. Consider their requests and how they can be fulfilled while ensuring personal safety. Be candid about your own COVID-19 exposure and willing to strategically select moments for necessary physical interaction.
Engage in distant, yet erotic, activities: If direct physical interaction is not possible, look to engage in the next best option. Use imagery, creativity and your mind to seek the physicality you and your partner need. Some of the best alternatives are:
- Phone sex: If you cannot touch your partner, tell them what you would like to do if you could. It is still very possible to have direct and highly stimulating communication with a lover over a great distance.
- Sext messages: Similar to above, it is possible to carry on a sexual interlude with a companion either in real-time or intermittently over days. Sharing explicit ideas and fantasies can release many of the same endorphins as physical touch.
- Share images: Whether taken of yourself or found online, an intimate picture can stir a great deal of emotion within a viewer. Sending one that resonates with you allows your companion to feel your excitement.
Hopefully before long we will move past this trying time in everyone's life. Until then, we need to remember that social distance does not have to be a physical lockdown.