Dealing with confinement in a relationship
How to Survive Confinement in a Relationship
The confinement has been going on for over 5 months now and this situation brings new challenges at all levels: societal, economic, personal, etc. So we wanted to address the issue of sexuality and sexual well-being in times of confinement. To do this, we called on the Sexualis team to answer some of our questions that concern people in couples and with or without children.
Sexualis is an initiative founded by two sexologists that aims to provide online services to those who would not otherwise have access to professional help regarding sex, sexuality, relationships, etc. Two components are available, one in the form of an online consultation with a team of 12 sexologists and one in the form of self help, which will be launched shortly. To find out more, visit sexualis.ca!
People in a relationship
Question: When confined, how do you take a moment for yourself in a small space without your partner feeling frustrated or rejected?
Answer: Who would have guess, back in January, that we would be 24/7 with our partner or partners?! Even if you wholeheartedly love someone, it is highly possible that you start to feel irritated when the other person comes into your space. We suggest that you try to set up small areas that are yours only and where you can have a peaceful moment alone. Obviously, if you are feeling abandoned when the other person wants to be alone, don’t panic and don’t jump to conclusion! It is possible that professional help would be necessary if this kind of dynamic is frequent whitin your relationship. Wanting to absolutely have a hold of your partner usually have the effect of accentuating the distance and to create more conflicts.
Question : How would you bring about intimacy with your partner if they are living with anxiety?
Answer: It’s possible that your partner doesn’t feel like being intimate either sexually or otherwise when feeling stressed. It is a completely legitimate reaction and it is normal that your sexuality changes during a global pandemic. It is also normal for some people to have an increase in their sexual desires, this is also a legitimate reaction. One thing's for sure, you should never force a romantic or intimate connection. What you could do is find alternatives that are less involving in terms of sexuality while the anxiety decreases. You will have a better time as a couple and the sexual activities will be better appreciated by the two (or more) partners when they’ll come back in your life. In clinical practice, we note that couples who try to maintain rigidity in the frequency of their sexual relations will experience more conflicts related to sexuality. If your partner still avoids sexual encounters post-confinement, it would be better to use the services of a sex therapist to help you.
Question: How do you keep a healthy intimacy?
Answer: A healthy intimacy occurs when both partners are feeling safe regarding their sexuality and listened to. That is true even if sexual desires or needs are different for each person. A healthy intimacy is a place where there is no anxiety-provoking performance, no guilt and no need to please no matter what. There is no specific frequency required for sexual relations nor a need to be ‘’wild’’ or not. A healthy intimacy relies heavily on the capacity of both partners to be emphatic with each other and to be open to discussed the problematics within the relationship.
Question: How would you talk to your partner regarding your sexual frustrations while in quarantine?
Answer: Before starting a discussion about your frustrations, make sure to carefully choose your words before hand. This way you will avoid using words that will put the blame on the other person. Of course, you are allowed to want more intimacy or sexual relations with your partner. But, he or she is not responsible to answer those needs anytime you want to, because they might have different needs. It is preferable to carefully choose the right moment to talk about this delicate matter, so you can make sure that you are well understood by your partner. I would also suggest to talk with concrete examples regarding what is missing from your intimacy or sexuality: the other person’s presence, its lack of attention, the feeling that pleasure is missing, lack of tenderness, etc.
Question: What would be your top tips to live the confinement with your partner?
Answer: Be active, split household tasks, reduce your expectations, try to do your own therapy session, take time for yourself, try to break your routine by integrating new activities, take some time to breathe. Sexuality will come as a bonus to enhance everyday life. Note that this also applies if you live with your kids!
In a relationship with kids at home
Question: How can you find time with your partner to renew intimacy?
Answer: Even without confinement, this aspect of life is a challenge for parents. Obviously, you try to choose moment when your kids don’t need you (nap time or after bedtime). When your kids are busy playing, wouldn’t it be a good opportunity to relax with your partner, talk about the news, kiss or touch each other subtly? Household tasks and chores can always wait for a couple of more minutes, right?I have a colleague who put in place a tradition to have a glass of wine or tea from time to time with its partner when they are less busy with the kids. I think it’s a nice routine to try!
Question: Do you have suggestions for activities or moments you can share as a couple?
Answer: There is a myriad of answers and I am sure that the hobbies and needs of every couple or relationship is different for each personality. That being said, try to prioritize pleasure and easiness. Lower your expectations and try to think outside the box! Maybe you can take a romantic walk, watch a TV series, take a romantic bath, play a boardgame, cook together, take a moment to cuddle before starting your day, caress each other sensualy or sexualy. Your pleasure is yours to discover!
Question: Do you have any advice for parents with teenagers VS very young children?
Answer: The confinement can be a good opportunity to talk about the subject of sexuality adapted to your children’s age and development. If the atmosphere is adequate and that your kids feel like you are comfortable with the subject it can bring about a pleasant and human moment. Many books can help you navigate this essential discussion!
Thank you to Eugénie from Sexualis for answering these questions! If you have other questions, make sure to ask them in the comments below and we will try to find the answers! If you need help regarding sexuality or intimacy regardless of if you are in a relationship or not, make sure to seek it. Either with Sexualis or another professional service.