February 1, 2021

Sexual Boredom & Skin Hunger: Our Most Common Intimacy Woes in 2021. {Partner}

This post is offered in partnership with our friends at Dame. They’re an eco, sexy, fun company dedicated to spreading sexual pleasure and education. We’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.


“I won’t get out of bed for anything less than three.” 

Said my husband, as we joked the other day about our sex life.

More specifically, about it being in such bad shape that we may have to get ourselves on Tinder soon. Separately.

I suggested he put in some minimum requirements like, “must want sex twice a week.” Hence his reply.

We use humor to get through tough things. And the past year has been tough AF, on our sex life in particular.

Keeping sex fun, fresh, and frequent in a long-term relationship is “Level: Difficult.” Living through a pandemic kicks it right on up to “Level: Ain’t Gonna Happen.”

Just for the record, according to sexually satisfied couples in a long-term relationship, the magic minimum number is more like once a week. (1.)

Day after Groundhog day of work-from-home-school-ing with a pair of incredibly loud and extremely emotional small people have made even that seem ambitious, though. Most nights, I’d frankly rather watch other people get semi-naked on Bridgerton than get my own clothes off and get some myself.

According to a recent study by the Kinsey Institute on the impact of Covid-19 on marital quality, “24% of married people reported having less frequent sex than they did before the pandemic, and 17% of women reported a decrease in both sexual and emotional satisfaction since the pandemic began.”

“Just as this is the lost year in other ways, it may also be the lost year in terms of sex,” says Maya Luetke, a researcher at the Centre for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. She led another study last spring that suggested as much as “a third of couples were experiencing pandemic-related conflict and that many of their sex lives were suffering.” (2.)

Before y’all start running to your respective sex therapists or divorce lawyers or—God forbid—Tinder, here’s the good news:

“You are normal.”

Even outside of life-changing events, struggling with intimacy doesn’t mean our relationship is in trouble, or that we’re doomed to a sexless future. Writing for Swell, the sexual health and pleasure resource by Dame, Buddhist sex therapist, Cheryl Fraser, explains:

“There are some longstanding myths about sex that seem to stick around like cockroaches after the apocalypse. It is time for us to crush them.” (3.)

Furthering sex-positive conversation like this is what the troublemaking pleasure pioneers at Dame are all about. Because once we understand that our experience of sex is normal, we can start to free ourselves from the stigma and stereotypes that get in the way of pleasure, whether solo or consensual.

They also make damn good sex toys, designed for real humans. Through their research arm, Dame Labs, they translate meaningful feedback into mind-blowing products.

Their latest addition might be just the breath of fresh Aer we need >>

The truth is, we are all finding things tough on the intimacy front right now.

It’s not just those of us in relationships over here in the corner, clutching our damp sparklers of desire. Across the deserted dancefloor of the “Not-enough-sex” club are the single people, craving affection to the point of being hungry for touch. Literally.

It’s called “skin hunger” (the popular phrase) or “touch deprivation” (the clinical term). The isolation of this past year has awakened a longing for touch that we’ve never quite felt before, writes Reina Gattuso, a feminist journalist covering food, sex, and politics.

“Skin hunger can feel as sharp and heavy as hunger for food. It can make us irritable, sluggish, aggressive, sleepless, and sad. It can even damage our immune systems.” (4.)

One thing is clear: we are physical, visceral, sexual beings. While it’s completely normal to be wherever we find ourselves right now, being out of whack and out of touch with our sexual well-being is downright harmful to our health.

Dame’s sexpert writer suggestions might help us come back to our sexual center:

Sexually uninspired in a relationship? Try treating your sex life like an old car.

Errrr…what do sex and cars have in common? Sex therapist, Cheryl Fraser explains:

“My sports car is like a great lover: it is thrilling, it is fun, and it feels good. But as time goes on and my new toy gets a few scratches, the novelty wears off. I start to take my ride for granted. It sits in the garage, and unless I think about it, grab the key, and go turn on the engine, we won’t be hugging any curves together. My spontaneous desire to drive it has gone way down.” 

Spontaneous desire is what experts call the excitement and physical arousal that happens when we “fall in love,” and it’s just a temporary state of biochemistry. Luckily, there’s more than one key to your erotic engine.

Not in the mood? Don’t let that stop you from taking a spin with the wind in your hair. Because great sex is all in your head.

So, start by cultivating your mental desire for it. Take a shower, relax your muscles, and slow your busy mind. Then, imagine how nice it will be to entwine naked bodies with your sweetie…

As sex educator Emily Nagoski says, desire is curiosity. Sex is not a drive, but our inherent sensuality is like a beautiful vehicle sitting in the garage gathering dust. And we have the keys.

Single & craving the pleasure of touch in these isolating times? Try self-massage.

Bodyworker and somatic healer, Sarah Seely, offers some great tips for self-massage. (5.)

Our heads, faces, and necks are good to start with. They’re not only easy to reach but can also bring spectacularly soothing benefits. Just as pets enjoy a good head scratch, we love having our heads rubbed. And having our faces touched is a sign of tenderness and love. Find Sarah’s step-by-step instructions here >>

For deeper reassurance and pleasure, move on to the rest of your body. Using our hands to stroke our bodies produces an immediate sense of calm in our nervous systems. Start by stroking your arms, and move slowly and mindfully down, noticing the contours of your body and the feel of your hands. You can keep it platonic, or go all the way if the mood arises. Either way, finish by giving yourself a hug.


Go all the way, right away: Aer gets you there >>

Tuck your right hand under your left underarm and wrap your left hand around the outside of your right arm. Close your eyes and sink into the warmth of your own embrace. Remain in this position for 20 seconds or more and notice what changes in your body as you breathe here. Be sure to share some love and appreciation with your body for taking care of you and supporting you.

Sarah is offering a self-massage workshop for the Dame community on Feb 11! Sign up here >>

The right accessories can breathe new life into your “old car,” or give you that sensory feedback you crave.

Try these Elephant Editor tried-and-true Faves from Dame (yep, we’ve tested ’em).

1. Arousal Serum

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(1.) https://www.health.com/sex/how-often-couples-have-sex

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