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‘I’m watching a ton of porn. Is that OK?’ An expert answers coronavirus sex questions

Couple kissing
This pandemic is taking its toll on us inside and outside the bedroom.
(Photo illustration by Steven Banks / Los Angeles Times; photo Getty Images)
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Shan Boodram is an Los Angeles-based certified sex educator with 598,000 subscribers on YouTube, and a new daily show on Quibi, “Sexology With Shan Boodram.” Here, she shares answers to some of our most intimate questions:

This pandemic — and sheltering in place — is killing my sex drive. Is that normal?

It is 100% natural for too much proximity to kill sex drive. And not even just too much proximity but a lot of proximity amidst a very stressful time with constant negative news. That is not a natural aphrosdisiac. The result? You don’t feel like having sex.

Fire needs air to breathe. And passion, similarly, needs air to breathe. And when you are on top of each other all the time and you’re not giving the brain any kind of new or novel experience or anything new to stem off of, to spitball into sexual tension, then it’s very difficult to get your libido going. So it’s normal.

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For the record:

11:02 AM, May. 07, 2020An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the daily Quibi show as “Sexology With Shan.” It is “Sexology With Shan Boodram.”

It doesn’t have to be normal. The fun thing about the word “normal” is that you get to decide what that means. And so if this is something that you’re accepting because this quarantine time is not forever, that’s all right. But if you’re not OK with that, you can adjust this normal by reducing the stressful content you allow into your home and coming up with coping strategies together that put both of you in a refreshed mind space.

And finally, look for ways to create dopamine-inducing exciting experiences in the home, whether that be time apart, whether that be utilizing porn, utilizing different environments, or driving somewhere and maybe having sex where it’s out there in the world. I’m not really quite sure what would feel fresh for you, but you have to search for that fresh experience to reignite that passion. Again, normal is subjective. But is it OK? Absolutely. It’s OK right now if you’re not in the mood and your partner’s not either.

Shan Boodram is an Los Angeles-based certified sex educator with a new show on Quibi, "Sexology With Shan."
(Isabella Vosmikova / Quibi)

I’m single and I live alone. So quarantining is so hard when I have almost no human contact. I miss sex, dating and meeting new people.

That is OK. And not only is it OK, it is extremely healthy. We are mammals that are born to bond. We are born to be with other people. We crave romantic connections. We crave intimacy. We crave human touch, and if you are missing those that just means that you’re human. Now, does this mean that you should act out on it? Absolutely not. Nothing is more important than your health and the health of those around you, but there are unique ways that people can still engage with others. There are the obvious dating apps — OKCupid said there were more messages sent in March as a result of the quarantine. So people are looking to connect if you are. There are also a ton of opportunities for cybersex, a ton of opportunities for utilizing social media platforms. Of course, nothing can replace the real thing. But there are ways to ensure that you still do have sexual connection to others without compromising your health.

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Many people quarantining at home as a result of the coronavirus crisis are noticing time passing a little more strangely than usual. For one thing, there are fewer signals differentiating a Sunday from a Monday.

I’m watching a ton of porn lately — it somehow feels wrong.

No, you should definitely check out some of the stats from PornHub and other sites about porn consumption these days. They’re also finding spikes in porn watching really, really late in the night. So people are staying up later because they’re not going to work and that leads to more porn consumption. That is normal.

I think it’s actually quite beautiful because it’s people trying to create a normal during these very abnormal times, and preserving sex and making sex still be a thing. That’s OK in a time where we can’t touch or be within six feet of people — it can be actually very soothing, it can be a coping mechanism for some people.

It’s only weird if you feel like it’s preventing you from focusing on other areas that could be helping you in this time of quarantine. So, for example, if you feel so overly consumed with porn to the extent that you’re not connecting with family and friends, you’re not connecting with others, the porn consumption is making you feel worse, not better — that’s when it’s cause for pause. But if it’s actually helping you and making you feel better and helping you to adjust to this time, then I say that you’re not alone. You’re not wrong.

L.A. dating coach Damona Hoffman tackles dating and relationship questions on her weekly podcast, “Dates & Mates.” Today she shares answers to the most common questions about love in the time of coronavirus.

With all of our new free time in quarantine, my partner wants to have sex more than ever. How can we find a sexual balance that works for both of us?

I think the balance comes in looking at coping strategies versus sexual libido. Your coping strategies might massively impact why you want to have sex more, or why you’re not interested in sex at all. There are going to be so many babies at the end of this year as a result of this quarantine, but a lot of people have no interest in having sex at all. Stress is not a natural sexual pick-me-up. On the flip side, though, there’s something known as arousal confusion. That’s what happens when your body misinterprets signals like adrenaline spikes and elevated heart rate that are due to fear or stress and that your body can perceive as physiological arousal. So stress can actually make somebody get hornier or heighten feelings that can make someone get horny. It’s kind of similar to why some people get really horny during an argument. So that might be happening to your partner. You might be having the adverse reaction. And the way to meet in the middle is to focus more on how are we handling this uniquely stressful time. What are our tools and strategies to bring us both to a space where we feel good and we’re making the healthiest decision for ourselves? And more important, how can you empathize with your partner during a time when, more than anything, they just need to be supported?

I know that many millennials are doing their part to flatten the curve. But it’s nerve-wracking not to trust someone you live with.

I have found myself masturbating a lot more than usual. Is this normal? Any other suggestions for dealing with sexual tension?

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I don’t think that anyone gets to say what’s normal during an unprecedented, historically unique time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. That’s my advice for everybody: Make yourself feel OK. And that may look different for each person. Don’t worry so much about what everybody else is doing. Really focus on what’s enriching you and what’s allowing you to have the best shot of coming out of this as healthy and as happy as possible. If masturbation is a part of that formula for you, I’d say absolutely continue.

Any other suggestions for dealing with sexual tension?

Yes, you can engage with other people by digisexuality, which is engaging with sex using technology as a liaison. On my new show on Quibi, we have an entire episode on digisexuality during the COVID-19 outbreak and how to utilize technology to enhance your sex life. A famous sex expert said that the safest sexual partner during this time is yourself, but cybersexuality or digisexuality challenges that and allows you to experience pleasure alongside others or even at the hand of others without actually physically being touched — that’s through the use of some toys that allow for remote control.

My partner and I are staying with his parents during the quarantine and it’s really hard to have sex with these thin walls.

How to keep things hot in a situation like this! This sounds like the Christmas dilemma, except now we’re in spring. So it’s slightly warmer. I think that hot sex might still be an option if you guys do have a car and make sure you wipe everything down and wash your hands before and after. Maybe that’s your only chance of a getaway and also in a space that you can control who’s been there and who’s been within six feet of it. Other things you can do: Maybe it’s timing walks. If you guys are all doing daily walks or exercise, maybe you have some alone time when your parents go out for their walks. That might even be a conversation for you to have with them: “We need a bit of alone time. Would you mind just giving us a text when you’re on your way back from your walk?” I don’t know what your relationship is like with your parents, but it sounds like you’re staying with them so they must acknowledge you do have a sex life. Also, there’s quiet sex.

Finding creative ways to overcome this together can actually help to heighten sex drive and to bring a bit of danger to the situation that might increase your libido. So lean into that. Be creative with your partner. Be novel in your approach to solving this and be thankful that you’re in a home with parents who are probably cooking all your favorite meals right now, because that’s definitely where I wish I was right now.

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