The pandemic has had an impact beyond measure at this point. One of the many things that I have noticed is a drastic challenge to people in relationships – the unmeasurable stress of work, isolation, family demands, caregiving, decision making, and intimacy has taken a toll on everyone, especially those in relationships. Couples are separating and divorcing at a rapid rate, all you have to do is ask a therapist or a family lawyer to get the full scope of what is happening. There are many contributing factors to a relationship coming to an end that cannot be summarized in a quick blog post – but I can share the major theme I have been seeing, which is the lack of intimacy that comes with stress. So I am giving you a different approach to intimacy which I like to call eat the buffet!
With all that is going on in our world right now, I am confident that a decade from now, we will be discovering all the long-term effects of isolation, stress, grief, and radical social life changes. I imagine that I will be reading research paper after research paper, with a good cup of coffee in hand while digesting the implications of 2020 on our life. I hope I won’t be wearing a tinfoil hat along with my coffee, but at this point, anything is possible, right?!?
Let me ask you something, how has stress impacted you? By this point in the pandemic we’ve all adapted to the pressures and stress – we all call it ‘the new normal’ as a way to accept this new state of being without much resistance. We need to adapt, it’s one of the beautiful features of being human – we are expert adapters. What we all forget is that although we have adapted to this way of living life, it’s still experienced as stress in our bodies and minds. We’ve simply become accustomed to this stress psychologically, but the body is still activated.
What is the best way to deal with stress and reduce its impact? Connection. It is simple yet so complicated. We need good ol’ connection in our life to feel good, to feel grounded, and to get the feel-good endorphins that make life worth living. This is the most tragic impact of the pandemic, our level of disconnection and joy.
At the beginning of the pandemic, our intimacy levels dropped and it has been difficult to regain them. People have struggled to find this connection again as stress levels continue to increase depending on health orders. So here is my suggestion to you… treat intimacy and sex like a buffet.
A buffet, you may ask? Yes! A buffet, maybe an ol’ school Chinese food buffet or an Indian food one. The type of buffet doesn’t matter, it’s more about the ability to lay out all of the choices and select what you’re in the mood for.
Intimacy can be prescriptive – first, we do this, then we do that, which leads to this, and then the finish. In this process, it loses all of its joy, fun, spontaneity, and novelty. It becomes predictable and somewhat boring. But most of all, it becomes tedious, like another chore to check off the list. When stress levels are high, we have less energy to give, leaving the gap between where you are and where you have to get to, too large to conquer. This is especially true for women, who carry the emotional burden in their relationships.
How can you change this? Create a buffet of intimacy options to choose from – make up your dish based on what you feel like doing, what you have the energy for and what you find interesting. Maybe you want to make out on the couch while watching a movie, or you would rather focus on giving your partner pleasure, or you want to be receiving the pleasure, or you want to share sexual fantasies or maybe you would like to try reading an erotica book together. Whatever the options are, put them out there to discuss and agree on beforehand.
Take the pressure off intimacy looking a certain way, create more novelty. Trust me when I say that this can radically change your level of intimacy. Sex is not just intercourse. Sex is about sexual connection, which comes in many forms! Liberate yourself from having a prescriptive sex life and entertain the idea of a buffet to see how that changes your life.
Happy buffet planning 😊