Social Isolation Has Stolen Our Sex Drive

by Jenn Jones
Couple kissing

I naively assumed that social isolation with my family—all six of us—would be a joyous adventure. Though we’re living in an uncertain time right now with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many of us to shelter-in-place or socially distance ourselves, I thought that maybe, just maybe, we’d relish in some serious family time. Maybe we’d spend our evenings watching movies while cuddling on the couch, and during the day, we’d have cheerful sessions of chores, schoolwork, and snack time. I also thought that perhaps, since my husband is assigned to work from home, these long days would mean some long (ahem) nights.

I’m not going to keep you in suspense. Social isolation has been anything but romantic. Instead, it’s a total libido-kidnapper. In fact, we are more tired than ever, trying to help our kids learn at home, keeping up on our own work, having the house remain in some sort of order, prepping meals, and entertaining the kids while the other one gets work done. To put it mildly, we’re exhausted. The last thing on our minds is making like Marvin Gaye and getting it on.

We’re both living in crumpled lounge clothes (AKA: pajamas), pouring coffee from the pot, and reminding our kids for the one hundredth time to finish their schoolwork. We’re taking turns helping with said schoolwork, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and FaceTiming our at-risk parents to make sure they’re OK. There’s little time or energy for even thinking about hanky panky, much less the actual execution of it.

By the time we get all four kids to bed and they’ve fallen asleep, we’re practically asleep ourselves. Instead of going to bed at an appropriate hour, we stay up too late to catch up on all the adults-only television that we can’t watch when the kids are up. I thought at the beginning of our social isolation session—which was weeks ago—that I’d be curled up with hubby on the sofa while we sipped wine and skimped on the movie to make out like teenagers. Ha! Joke’s on us.

We’re not wearing anything cute to bed to catch the other’s attention. Instead, we’re donning the same three outfits on repeat. If you can even call a ten-year-old T-shirt and gray pajama pants an “outfit.” My hair is in a classic, barely contained top knot, and my hubby hasn’t put any product in his own hair since we can’t remember when. I admit, he looks really good in a button-up shirt when he’s headed out the door to work. But those button up shirts are now hanging in the closet for the unforeseeable future.

It feels like we’re on day 2,875 of social isolation. There are multiple times a week that we’ve asked each other what day it is. Tuesday? Wednesday? Maybe it’s Saturday? Are we still in March or is it April-something? When is Easter? What time is it? It’s definitely not hook-up time, that’s one thing for certain. We used to look forward to certain days on the calendar, ones we scheduled for Saturday brunches out without the kids. Of course, those are all cancelled and replaced with dad making pancakes for the kids while mom brews more coffee.

Some people think that marital teamwork is sexy. Take, for example, cooking together. Apparently, there’s supposed to be something sensual about making a meal side-by-side. I’m going to go ahead and give that two thumbs down. I’m not going to wear nothing but an apron, dim the lights, and simmer something on the stove while sneaking in kisses. I have four very hyper, very hungry children to feed. When it comes to meal prep, I just want to get the job done as quickly as possible and then get started on the huge stack of dishes on the countertop before I collapse into bed—and not for nooky. For sleep. Actual sleep.

COVID-19 is killing our sex drive, truth be told. The daily news is terrifying, and our to-do list is longer than ever. Home teaching just one child is a lot, but four? We are both highly educated people, but this homeschooling business is no walk in the park. Plus, we’re juggling our own job responsibilities and household duties. We still have to pay the bills. Unfortunately, a romp session isn’t going to accomplish any of these.

Sure, we could try harder. I could actually shave my legs and put on some lip gloss. My husband could light some candles, and we could keep the TV off at eleven at night for once. However, the reality is, we just don’t. We’re bound to get interrupted even if we manage to get to the point of possibly knocking boots.

I’m also worried that at any point, any of us are carrying the virus, and our affection could push us to the point of no return. What if me or my husband is carrying it, and getting some action lands either of us in the hospital while the other solo-parents our kids? Maybe I sound paranoid, but I’d be lying if I told you the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

I feel guilty. Like what if something does happen to one of us, and we didn’t have that one last headboard-banging night to remember each other by? Obviously, there’s much more to romance and partnership than sex—but my anxiety is telling me to worry about this. Plus, shouldn’t I want to have sex more right now? I mean, we could have daytime sex, something that sounded so naughty and fun when we both were in our normal routine. Now that we can, we aren’t. For one thousand different valid reasons.

I’m learning, as we move toward marking our first month in isolation, that we have to be forgiving of ourselves and others, especially our partners. We’re all doing our very best to figure things out and stay centered. Once we get into our groove, I’m hopeful that we’ll get back in the saddle.