Dating & Relationships

What Sex Looks like in the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Coronavirus Pandemic has effected more than just our social lives... KK Catches Up With Psychologist Emma Kenny To Learn More
by KK
11 Aug 2020

UPDATED: 14 Nov 2022


Has lockdown affected your relationship/s? We promise, you’re not the only one. Psychologist, TV presenter and expert media commentator, Emma Kenny explains all. 

We asked Emma whether our feelings are normal? How can we address our heightened emotions? 

True to her roots, Emma’s answers are straight to the point, BS free and honest.

‘First and foremost it’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings are normal. Normal for the circumstances we’re living in. Without delving too deeply into the ‘clinical’, our brains have been hugely affected. Over the last five months, the area of the brain that helps rationalise has shut down. Instinct has taken over.’ 

We are living in an escalation of fear. We need to escape the fear but we’re stuck on ‘fight’ mode. There is no flight option. Our natural coping mechanism is to get something sorted. But we can’t.’ 

Emma outlined three areas of focus that can help when it comes to balancing our mental health.


We’ve all done it. Pointed the finger. Projected our anxiety onto someone else. Expected more when something hasn’t met our expectations. Yelled for the sake of yelling then felt like crap for losing it. Used sex (or lack of), as a punishment.

Emma explains that instead of saying “you make me feel” replace it with “I feel”.  Take responsibility for your own emotions. Own it. 

Give it a go now. Instead of thinking “this article is pissing me off/making me feel better” try reframing instead towards a self-focused phrasing. “I feel pissed off” or “I feel better”. In all likelihood, the article is exacerbating some existing feelings within you, rather than solely being the cause of them. Recognizing this not only help when it comes to negative feelings, but it can boost your confidence when it comes to positive feelings too. It’s all within you, meaning you don’t have to rely on external factors to make yourself feel better. 

What About Sex & Communication?

Communication is so important in any kind of  sexual relationship.

Maybe one of you wants to experiment? Perhaps one of you wants to bring in a fantasy? So how do you communicate it? 

Expect that you might feel embarrassed or shy, and out of your comfort zone. You may be testing your personal boundaries in a mega way. It’s a risk laying your sexual cards on the table! The fear of this risk builds courage and confidence. If your partner understands and loves you, the chances are they will be up for it! So, take a deep breath, take that risk and run with it!

Blurting out a sexual desire might begin by feeling a little weird. But let’s make sex and sexual communication part and parcel of our everyday language. Why shouldn’t it be?

Working From Home & Relationships 

Working from home together can be very testing for any relationship, no matter how much you love each other. 

Arguments might flare up and you might feel that this just isn’t going to work. These are all real feelings and it can be understandably frustrating and exhausting. But it is possible to re-frame yourselves, either as a couple or within a family unit. 

So how do you delegate out the roles? 

Emma says that they don’t need to be equal roles; just play to each of your strengths. Why should someone suddenly become the master chef if they’re crap at cooking? Sit down every evening, express what’s worked and, what hasn’t, (using ‘I feel’ not ‘you make me feel’), and then gently re-structure.

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve ranked your job as being more important than your partners? Or perhaps you’ve made your procrastination more important than everyone else’s. Emma warns of the perils of letting this hierarchy continue. 

“Escalation and conflict in a relationship come from a position of blame. When you blame someone, the natural state of an animal is to defend itself. We get angry or withdraw. Nothing is resolved”. 

Resentment is so powerful. It’s crucial to adjust your thinking. Ask the question; ‘How do you feel’? And ‘What can I do better’? You’re then moving in the same direction. 

How to Re-Kindle Your Sex Drive

Sex life experiencing a drought? Totally normal. Or is it sex that’s the problem, or the kind or amount of sex that you’re having that’s the issue? Emma says get checked out! If you’ve experienced a shift in your libido, it might be down to something else, not just the situation we’ve all found ourselves in. Iron levels, hormones, and diet all can play a part in a fluctuating libido. Can you change anything? Drinking, diet, and exercise will all impact how you feel physically.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the idea of ‘performing’? When we’re tired and stressed, even the idea of a quickie can lead to people feeling overwhelmed and shutting down. 

Here are a few tips to reframe your thinking:

  • Have a quickie every day

This can be better than building sex up into what you think needs to be a porn movie-equivalent performance. Quick and to the point works just fine! 

  • Express your fantasies

Talk about your fantasies together. You might discover some new things to try that could bring a playfulness to your intimacy, relieving pressure and creating novelty. 

  • Masturbate together. 

Pleasure yourselves in front of each other. You’re both then involved in the experience without either feeling like they need to go the extra mile.

Emma’s overriding message is we need to acknowledge this is a blip in the road. There are constraints on us, but these will come to an end. In the meantime, address the ‘now’ in your relationships and re-frame and communicate the blips you are experiencing. And if you’re struggling to see how you can improve things in your relationship/s, perhaps consider reaching out to a counsellor or therapist for some guidance.