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Discovering Desire in a Pandemic

Discovering Desire in a Pandemic

Written for GFH by Luna Matatas

COVID-19 has prompted many of us to rediscover our desirewhether it’s due to limited opportunities to date and have sex, or getting stuck in a routine from being around our partners more than usual, or even through managing distances of being separated from partners. Some of us got hornier during the pandemic and others got less horny. How has your desire for sex or sexual feelings changed over the course of 2020?

There’s a difference between being interested in sex and being physically ready for sex. Desire can be spontaneous or responsive. Spontaneous desire happens to those who mentally get interested in sex and then want to have sex. Responsive desire occurs when you feel the physical readiness for sex and then the mental arousal follows. For example, responsive desire could happen when you’re feeling affectionate through kissing or hugging and then feel the desire to take things further. 

Here are some ways to nurture and explore desire:

Curate your social media content. 

Ever feel bad about your body after you’ve spent time on social media? Social media typically serves up content that is focused on a narrow definition of conventional attractivenesswhich the majority of us don’t fit. This can leave us feeling not good enough or believing there is only one type of “sexy” that is desirable. 

This can leave most of us to struggle with body confidence and not feeling sexy enough, which can impact our desire and how much we believe we belong in our own authentic sexiness. 

Instead, choose to follow social media accounts with bodies that look like yours. Instead of getting inspiration from mainstream celebrities, follow creators who are using their platforms to bring voices to marginalized genders, sexual orientations, bodies and relationship styles. The more that you can curate your content so that your gaze gets to take in the stories of people who inspire you, the more likely you are to feel good about your sexiness.


Whether you have a partner or not, self-pleasure is a way to connect to your desire in the present moment, with no worrying about someone else’s needs. It is also a fabulous safer sex option! It’s a chance to let go of expectations of sexual performance or even orgasm, and tap into what your body is experiencing right now. Whether your desire is high or low,  or even somewhere in the middle, masturbation can also be a place to explore the erotic feelings or fantasies that you’re curious about but not sure if you’re actually aroused by.

Masturbation can also be an important part of our sexual health because we stay connected to noticing and affirming what feels good for our bodies and what doesn’t. This knowledge can help us communicate better with our partners, and also be help us be more present in our bodies when we have partnered sex. Here are some ideas for Mixing Up Your Masturbation routine. 

If you’re looking for a new sex toy such as a dildo or vibrator, get some advice on what might be the best choice for you. 

Erotic Inputs

What turns you on? If you have your go-to fantasies, you might be getting bored or want to discover another way to get turned on. Or you might be unsure about what turns you on. Our erotic imagination is a HUGE source of our arousal and has infinite possibiities for sexiness once we get curious about our desires. 

Erotic Inputs are the things we use to kindle our desire. For example:

  • Watching porn
  • Fantasizing about previous sexual experiences
  • Sexting
  • Camming
  • Erotic literature
  • Erotic audio
  • ...and more

Try mixing up your inputsif you always watch porn, try listening to erotic audio. If you always watch the same type of scenario or bodies in porn, try mixing up who is on screen. If you’re unpartnered or not able to have as much skin time with your partner as you’d like, then explore sexting, strip teasing on cam, or sending sexy voice messages. 

Video sex is a great way to practice corona virus safe sex: you can remain physicallly safe while trying out different fantasies and ways to turn yourself on. 


Sensuality can help us discover our desire by slowing things down and opening up to sensations that make us feel flirty, seductive, sexy, relaxed, and creative. Sensuality helps us connect with all of our senses. Here are some ideas to play with sensual sensations:

You can also explore sensuality through simple things like dragging your nails on your scalp in the shower and enjoying the tingles from your scalp to your body or doing the dishes and sinking into the scent of the dish soap and the feel of warm water on your hands. Being more present in your body can help you explore sensual inputs for all of your senses and not just limit yourself to what’s visually stimulating. 

Feeling disconnected or frustrated with your partner?

Relationships and intimacy during COVID can come with challenges. Communication and empathy are ways to navigate these unprecedented hurdles in our relationships. Stress, uncertainty, and anxiety can all fuel desire discrepancies between partners. Many of us have struggled with deepened mental health challenges, like depression, during the pandemic. It’s important to resource your needs appropriately, and reach out for support from therapists, care providers, friends, and educators. 

Conventionally, we’ve understood desire as the longing for or hoping for sex. Desire doesn’t have to be defined this narrowlywe can also understand desire as the longing for the experience of connecting to our erotic selves. This may be through sex, with ourselves or with others, it could also be through affection, fantasizing, sensuality, emotional connection, kink, etc. However you express or nurture your desire is unique to you!