Social distancing, a term most of us probably haven't heard until recently, has been widely encouraged and in some cases, enforced, as we work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For partners that share homes and beds already, it's almost impossible to truly practice social distancing from each other. These couples are likely in the clear to continue physical intimacy with each other (if they're both show no symptoms and have been isolating together), Dr. Julia Marcus for The Guardian indicates.
For those who aren't living with their partners or are still in the casual dating phase of their relationship, staying home as much as possible with little to no in-person interactions will be a test on maintaining a connection, especially of the physical sort - but not an impossible test.
With technology largely to thank, there are several ways you can explore sexuality with your partner, despite the distance. We can't say it will be exactly the same (not even the best vibrator can replace human touch), but it will keep a spark alive, help you look forward to reuniting, and hopefully, relieve some stress.
Get into sexting
The technique of sexting comes down to "less is more". Send your partner little hints about what you're wearing, what you're thinking about, or a sexy dream you had about your partner. Get their curiosity running, but leave some of the imagination up to them. Don't feel that you have to come straight out of the gate with X-rated statements - if it wouldn't feel natural to you in person, it won't via text. Check out some examples of sexting prompts online if you're struggling to find a way to warm things up.
Depending on your circumstances, you might find yourself with extra time at home on your hands. When you feel in the mood, put on something you feel sexy in, blast a sultry playlist (bonus if you and your partner already have one for getting it on), and have a solo photo shoot.
There are lots of photo apps out there that will help you safely send sexy pics but you can also use messaging apps like Signal or Whatsapp for text chatting, making it less likely to run into any awkward sexting mishaps.
Schedule some video calls
We're relying on video conferencing tools now more than ever in a work context (Zoom, anyone?), so why not take advantage of the technology for your sex life?
Since it can feel a bit unnatural for anyone who doesn't regularly have sex over video, you don't have to go "all in", at least not right away. A sexy video call could be just as much as having a regular chat, but wearing something a little low cut or have your hair tousled in a way that you know turns on your partner. You could also plan a virtual romantic dinner night, dressing up for each other, complete with wine, candles, and takeout you both order to your respective homes.
If you both feel comfortable getting as close to the real deal over video, take inspiration from what you already know turns both of you on when you have sex regularly. If you're into dirty talk, for example, try and amp it up even a little more. (Sure, your partner might not be physically inside of you, but it'd be hard for them to not feel even a little turned on hearing about how good they feel inside of you.)
Incorporate a toy, be vocal (but mindful of co-habitants - wear headphones!), and be maybe a little more expressive than you usually are - if you're enjoying it, you want to be sure your partner knows!
Masturbate on your own
Even when you're not apart from each other for a long period of time, it's unrealistic to expect your partner to fulfill all of your sexual needs. Masturbation is healthy and fun, whatever the circumstance, but it can play an especially valuable role in times of stress and distance from your partner.
Orgasms, specifically, relieve the body of pent up tension, which helps you sleep more soundly. As you probably know, sleep is harder to come by in uncertain times.
Not only will masturbating help you in the moment; it will also keep your sexual desires and drive well-oiled, building up anticipation for when you and your partner can come back together.
Over-communicate your needs
Communication is the universal "Step One" when it comes to anything sex-related. In facing a situation as unique and stressful as a global crisis, it is completely normal if sex is the last thing on your mind and a possible discrepancy between levels of sexual desire in your partnership should be acknowledged and respected.
It is ok if you don't feel like it. It's also ok if connecting sexually feels extra important to you right now. Have that conversation with your partner, even if you don't anticipate there being a mismatch in wants and needs.
Have a plan and be open with each other.
Stay safe, stay home, and visit the World Health Organization's website for more information and updates surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.
For resources surrounding mental health, check out the CDC's guide to managing stress and anxiety.