TRYING TO BUILD THE MOMENTUM
A few days ago, I connected with my therapist over Zoom for the first time in a month since being in isolation due to COVID-19.
I thought we would talk about my usual issues–trauma and adolescent regressions–but as soon as we logged into our session she threw a curve ball.
“How has your sex life been with all of this going on?” she asked.
I hadn’t stopped to think about it until now. I had been so focused on dealing with my anxiety, trying to adjust to a new normal, and live with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, that I realized only then that our sex life had been non-existent since isolation.
Fun nights out at our favorite restaurants, in our fancy clothes, stumbling home happy-drunk on red wine, usually put us in the bedroom. But these recent nights, we sit on the couch, watching TV for hours, in our lounge wear.
We’ve also been together 24/7. In our tiny apartment. We haven’t had the chance to crave physical intimacy from spending moments apart. We’re on top of each other. Yet, not in bed.
“We haven’t had sex,” I blurted out loud to my therapist. I felt guilt and shame wash over me, and she saw it on my face through the screen.
“I’m not asking you this to make you feel guilty,” she interjected. “I wanted to ask you because so many couples are saying that the current situation is contributing to a lot of sexual stress. I wanted you to know that you’re not alone. And, there are things you can do to spice up your sex life and feel physically connected to your partner during all of this, if you’re interested.”
I was skeptical. How do you have a fun and exciting sexual relationship with your partner in the middle of a global pandemic?
“I’ve been recommending intimacy dates,” she said. “The idea is simple. You’ll create a fun date night, with the anticipation that you’ll have sex at the end of the night. Get dressed up. Create a few surprises. Build the momentum.”
It couldn’t hurt to try.
Standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, I watched my reflection as I brushed my wet hair. It’s the first time I’d brushed it in over a week, and I kept having to stop to detangle pieces of matted mess, reminding me of how long it’d been.
Changing out of my Lululemon’s and dragging myself off the couch where I was happily binge-watching Love on Netflix to get in the shower was a daunting task. Don’t even get me started on shaving my legs.
Now, I had to blow dry and style my hair? Fuck.
But I was determined.
My fiancé and I were going on our intimacy date tonight, and we decided to make dinner and take it to the park by our house. I wanted to look good.
I finished styling my hair and changed into a flirty spring dress, self-conscious of the fact that it felt tighter than it did when I wore it last. Probably that bag of chips I stress-ate yesterday, I thought to myself.
I noticed how weird it felt changing out of my oversized hoodie and sweatpants. It felt alien to wear other clothes again. Looking in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself with makeup on after being fresh-faced for so long.
I opted for no underwear under my dress for a sexy surprise. But as I awkwardly tried to sit down on the blanket my fiancé laid out for us, trying not to flash the family sitting adjacent, I realized I didn’t think my decision through.
It felt nice to have the sunshine on our faces. We drank wine and listened to Mase, an artist on our love-making playlist. He laughed every time I moved on the blanket or straightened my legs, playfully showing him flashes of skin.
The word almost seemed normal again. Our lives almost seemed normal again.
But the anticipation of having sex at the end of the night was absent. And it was reiterated with a crushing feeling of disappointment when we got home, as we both looked at each other knowing that it just wasn’t going to happen.
“I’m just not into it,” I said. He nodded in agreement.
“I’m sorry…” I said, as he pulled me close into his chest. I realized in that moment that I didn’t want sex, but just his body close to mine. Skin on skin. My body melted into his like butter.
Laying in bed naked, we spooned each other, and talked.
“I’m sorry it didn’t end up the way we wanted tonight,” I said, turning to face him. “But this still makes me feel so intimately close to you. I think that’s a win.”
We laid in each other’s arms and slept all night, enjoying the closeness of our bodies until morning rolled around.
It was then, that the anticipation finally mounted.
We both lay on our backs side by side afterwards, trying to catch our breath. Limbs tangled in sheets. Bodies glistening with sweat.
His arm was outstretched on my stomach, and the feel of his fingertips created goosebumps across my body. But I still craved his touch. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move.
“Let’s have a re-do date,” I proposed.
“Let’s just stay here all day.”
He pulled me close and I drifted back asleep with the warm feeling of his arm curled around my back, anticipating round two when I woke up again.