Sex in self-isolation: Four ways to quench your pandemic thirst

If news reports, social posts and metrics are anything to go by, a worldwide pandemic hasn’t done anything to lessen the human need for connection, intimacy and sex. If anything, self-isolation has amplified those needs.

So how do we connect in an era of social distancing? We examine some technologies that, with some creativity and openness, can help create connections safely – or make alone time more fun.

Dating apps

Relationship experts commonly advise that it’s best to meet a potential partner in person as soon as possible. So are dating apps even useful at a time when people can’t meet physically?Turns out daters are still finding ways to get to know each other via video apps like FaceTime and Zoom.

“A lot of folks who are just looking for hookups aren’t going to be trawling the apps right now, so you may find it more possible to forge deeper connections with others,” says Come as You Are Co-Op’s Jack Lamon. “Similarly, if you’re on a dating or hookup app and someone is pressing you to meet up, they may have poor judgment! If they’re not great about taking precautions when there’s a pandemic, they may not be great about safer sex practices either.”

If, on the other hand, you’re into the idea of an ephemeral encounter with someone you may never meet, sexting and phone sex are very viable options right now. Tinder and Bumble have reportedly seen longer conversations and an increase in messages, and Feeld has created three specific virtual “locations” (called Quarantine, Sext Bunker and Remote Threesomes) that pool together open-minded folks from all over the world looking for remote fun.

Taking the digital experience one step further, Feeld and design studio Moniker recently launched Feeld For Play, a site that allows up to four visitors to flirt via an anonymized video feed.

As always, it’s a good idea to keep safe sexting, pic sharing and compassionate communication practices in mind. 

Sex toys

Teledildonics is just one way to stay connected in self-isolation

App-controlled sex toys (teledildonics)

Sex toy sales are up around the world, and while a dildo, vibrator, sleeve or butt plug is a no-brainer purchase for singles, there are also a variety of devices that can be operated remotely via phone apps if you’re unable to see your lover(s) during self-isolation.

We-Vibe’s flagship product was a couples’ vibrator that added an app control option in 2014.

“Folks in long distance relationships often combine something like We-Vibe vibrators and Skype or FaceTime to have sexual encounters remotely with each other,” says Lamon. “Mutual masturbation is wicked fun when you’re in the same space, but the distance can actually make sex play even more intense and sexually charged.

“Remotely controlled sex toys can also be fun to play with as part of a D/S [dominant/ submissive] relationship,” he continues. “If one partner is wearing something like the We-Vibe Moxie or one of the classic insertable We-Vibes, the other partner can turn it on at unexpected moments and turn it off at inconvenient times.”

While We-Vibe is widely considered the industry leader in this category, other brands with app controlled devices include Mystery Vibe, Lovense and OhMiBod.

Phile online erotica

Online journal Phile has a curated selection of erotic video art, films and clips.

Online erotica

Self-isolation is a great time to explore desires, turn-ons and whatever sparks your erotic imagination. PornHub saw a spike in traffic in March, but for those inclined to slow down there’s a plethora of erotic film, art and reading available online.

Phile (the partially Toronto-based “International Journal of Desire & Curiosity”) recently compiled a selection of erotic video art, films and clips available to view on their website. Content ranges from their own shorts to queer and cult classic cinema.

The streaming service Kanopy (which is free and accessible through the Toronto Public Library with a library card) hosts thousands of films. Plug the word “erotic” into the search function and you’ll find offerings from traditional documentaries to campy vintage softcore Europorn to interviews and films profiling a diverse range of photographers and artists  like Helmut Newton, Nobuyoshi Araki, Robert Mapplethorpe, Chris Ofili, Tom of Finland and Leonora Carrington.

Literary erotica has long been a popular alternative to conventional pornography, and in the two years since its launch, Dipsea has become the most talked about audio app thanks to their well-produced, sexy short stories.

Mal Journal, which is supported by the dating app Feeld, publishes essays, fiction and poetry themed around “radical approaches to sexuality, gender and the erotic.” Browse writing from issues featuring authors Sheila Heti, Eileen Myles and Natasha Stagg at their website.

Online learning and podcasts

You can spend a lifetime learning about yourself, and sex ed doesn’t have to end with high school. “There are so many amazing online sex workshops,” says Lamon. “We could not recommend Luna Matatas more highly. She’s wonderful and has great workshops on so many topics that can be attended solo or with a partner, near or far.”

In terms of podcasts, The Science Of Sex, The PornHub Podcast, New Books In Gender Studies and History Is Gay are just a few of the places to hear informed folks talk about the spectrum of human sexuality from a multitude of perspectives encompassing psychology, history, technology and pop culture. Perfect accompaniment for self-isolation activities like rearranging your furniture, cutting your own hair and baking bread.

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