This is why you’re so chaotically horny in quarantine
No, you’re not the only one sending nudes to your ex in lockdown.
Of all the unexpected side effects of lockdown (national sourdough obsession, escalating pass-agg fights with your neighbours over who can clap for health workers the longest with their chapped dehydrated over-washed hands, old people becoming famous for walking laps around their gardens) the most interesting is how chaotically horny we’re all becoming. Yes, okay, horniness was probably expected. After all, the government have advised all couples who don’t live together to stay apart for the foreseeable, and without the ability to date or get pissed and hook up with strangers after nights out, our sex lives have collectively lost their usual outlets. The horniness is easy to explain. The chaos with which that horniness is manifesting, that’s something else entirely.
Aside from the widely observed phenomenon of getting horny on main, many of us are texting people we would never usually entertain in normal, un-locked-down society, sending increasingly explicit messages and nudes and generally ramping up the horn to levels that would previously be considered socially unacceptable. “I quite simply don’t know what’s gotten into me, to be honest,” says Nick*. “I’ve been FaceTiming this guy I’ve been talking to for a while more frequently, and that makes perfect sense, but I’ve also been getting saucy in the DMs with a guy I last spoke to in 2017, and phoning someone who’s now revealed they’ve liked me since I was a teenager.”
“I’ve gotten super into making videos for guys,” admits Laura*. “Like, I’ve bought loads of sex toys and I’ve become weirdly performative. If I want to masturbate I’m thinking in the back of my mind, should I turn this into something? Am I going to squirt? If so, should I get my phone ready?”
But what constitutes socially acceptable levels of horniness, it appears, has changed. As we’re forced to stay physically two metres away from any other person, our desire for touch has become maniacally digital instead. Apps like Feeld and OnlyFans have flourished in isolation as sex workersand socially distant horndogs have pivoted completely online (and Bey has lent the latter a shoutout on a "Savage" remix). PornHub made premium content free worldwide in March, and now has a section for “coronavirus quarantine” themed videos. And Emjoy, an “audio-based intimate wellbeing app” which uses guided meditation and sensual stories to get users in the mood, has had a huge spike since lockdown began in earnest in mid-March, with app downloads almost doubling and usage increasing by 160%. “I made a Feeld account and accidentally left my own name on there for a couple of days, and a guy I used to date found me and started sexting me,” says Laura. “It’s strange talking to my ex on a sex app. It’s led to weird discussions. Like, we’re on a kinky app despite us never having particularly kinky sex? Did he think I wasn’t into it when we were together? Was I even into it? Or has this just manifested from how horny I am in isolation and how I can’t stop thinking about fucking? Do I even want to fuck him afterwards? I don’t know!”
It’s perhaps due to the fact that the majority, if not all of our sexual activity takes place through a screen, that the content of that sexual activity is becoming wilder. By cutting down or eliminating real life awkwardness and having the comfort of being able to hide behind DMs, curate responses and simply log off when it all gets too much, we’re becoming much braver and more brazen than we’d usually be. And talking to people, like Laura, that we’d never normally spend time trying to get with in “the real world”. But why? Well, it could be argued that without the distractions of our normal busy lives, our sexual ids are simply flourishing as they always dreamed.
“With our shrinking worlds, our relationship experiences have become increasingly intensified”, says Dr Earim Chaudry, who provides digital health consultations. “If you’re single, you’ve probably never felt more single in your life. And without physical contact with our friends and family, many of us are placing more value on dating in general. Quarantine will most likely encourage sexual exploration in younger, single parts of the population. People definitely seem to be sending more nude photos with sexual partners and social media followers while self-isolating. When you can’t see or feel someone, sexting, photos and video chats are the closest things to skin-to-skin contact and keep the spark alive. While someone might not normally engage in said ‘risky digital behaviours’, these are some special circumstances which might put those hesitations on hold in favour of sexual exploration via online mediums.”
It makes sense that we’re going to greater lengths to get our fix of human connection. It’s not just you -- however strongly you might believe it to be the case when you’re awake at 3am, feeling quite grim immediately post-blue-light-solo-orgasm. According to the psychology theory Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Model, love and belonging is one of the five most basic and essential needs a human being must meet to survive. In pre-pandemic life, love and belonging comes from many innocuous sources; friends, family, nights at the pub, going to the gym, things that we took for granted and which are now completely off the table. “A life or death crisis makes us consider what’s really important to us,” says psychologist Josh Cohen. “These kind of extreme situations tend to make us braver and bolder and more alive to life as it is happening right now; not in some vague, notional future. With work, social life and other means of filling our hours radically reduced, our deepest feelings, anxieties and desires -- things which have usually stayed discreetly in the background, have now snuck up on us.”
“It’s definitely easier to be more wild because there’s fuck all else to do, and also I’m not under any pressure to meet IRL any time soon,” says Nick of those sneaky desires. “It’s like a fun trial period where the performative part of dating is much less demanding, so I’m just going to bask in the moment because it’s a lot of fun. Honestly, I’d like to say I feel the slightest bit bad or exhausted, but I’m loving it. I’m not used to juggling men or getting this much attention when we’re allowed to leave the house.”
But quarantine, though we might not feel it now, will eventually end. Vaccine or not, we will eventually be allowed to leave the house again. And what does that mean when you’re suddenly faced with the prospect of seeing the person you -- or your online persona -- has been sending absolute filth to for the past twelve weeks? Things could be slightly awkward. “I think post-isolation is going to be fucking wild,” says Laura. “I’m nervous both for whether I’ll actually want this kind of kinky sex when it’s over, and also nervous for whether the guys I’m talking to actually will too? Like, are they just doing the same thing I am?”
That thing, essentially, is talking a big game. “It’s hard to predict, but already preliminary research is telling us that the general public do not want to go back to how things were before the lockdown,” says CBT therapist Kelly Watkins. “And that goes for our new attitudes to sex and relationships as well as everything else. We may realise that our old behaviours aren’t meeting our needs anymore, and we’ll want to make the most of our new found freedom. During quarantine, the increase in the amount of self-pleasure simply won’t be feasible when people are back working in offices, which could cause people to drastically decrease their amount or engage in more sexual behaviours outside of their home because they now have an increased desire to do so.”
“Really though, we don’t know what the answer will be or what the world will look like post-quarantine,” she continues. “It’s safe to say there will be changes in attitude, but it depends on the individual and whether there’s room for their new found sexuality in their new life.”
Basically, what this means then, is that you shouldn’t be afraid of your rampant, chaotically horny vibes in quarantine. It’s a time of self-discovery after all. Some are writing novels. Others are baking cakes. Some have discovered a passion for running endless 5k's. But what unites us all, surely, is our rediscovery of the horn. Revel in it.
*Names have been changed to protect horny identities.