DROUGHTS come in many shapes and sizes, and for the past 16 months we have had to endure no end of shortages.
Initially, it was all about the scarcity of toilet roll and dried pasta but then, as time went on, more fundamental factors.
The irony of being forced to be around people we would not ordinarily choose to be with, while being kept away from those we longed for, was not lost on anyone.
Of all the things we’ve been deprived of, human contact has surely been the greatest and potentially the most damaging.
But such is lockdown. We know that now and I’m pretty sure it’s done some funny things to us.
Not surprising, then, to find that according to a poll by relationship support service Relate and dating site eharmony, one in four singletons admits feeling “out of practice in the bedroom”.
It’s one thing being single by choice, opting not to encourage a bit of physical synergy with someone else, and quite another having it imposed on us due to a pandemic.
To have gone for years without intimacy does peculiar things to you, so I understand how some singletons must be feeling as we teeter on the edge of Freedom Day
Having fired up my sexual engine again five months before the first lockdown and following a long sex drought, I can’t deny that the words “stay at home” sent my fanny flutters into a panic.
I make light because time has passed since I re-engaged my sexuality but it wasn’t funny living through a largely sexless marriage.
I’ve written about it before in this paper, and it was painful and embarrassing to document.
But to have gone for years without intimacy does peculiar things to you so I understand how some singletons must be feeling as we teeter on the edge of Freedom Day.
I guess it all depends on how sexual a creature you are. Some people don’t miss it, can live without it or can take it or leave it. I have never been one of them.
For me, it’s an essential part of a relationship unless, of course, there are physical reasons why it can’t happen or there has been a prior understanding it will be omitted.
You might imagine, coming out of my sexually dehydrated marriage three years ago, at age 51, I felt more than a little shy and out of practice. When I was first “doing without”, it sent me a bit doolally.
I became preoccupied with why it wasn’t happening and what I could do to change the situation, and there were moments when I was tearing my hair out.
As the hand of time wound its way through the barren years, I began to convince myself I was unattractive, unlovable, undesirable and, ultimately, repulsive.
That’s what can happen if we live a life devoid of intimacy. And I’m not talking about just sex — even just touching and kissing.
Feel good about yourself. No more navel-gazing, woe-is-me. Hold your head high and take a good, admiring look in the mirror atthose thighs, that bum
When I first got back in the saddle (PS: Is there a more sexist, masculine term for having sex?) I worried if I would even be capable.
Such was my crippling self-doubt, part of me felt I should not bother trying to ever have sex again.
After all, it’s much easier to not push yourself out of your comfort zone, isn’t it? But I knew I wanted to.
For all those lockdown singletons who contributed to the poll — and those 13 per cent who said they didn’t know if they were “ready to be intimate again” — it is easy to just convince yourself you don’t need or want this because fear holds us back.
But whether you’re young, or an oldie like me, don’t let it. So, if you are feeling a bit parched and wondering how on earth you are ever going to feel satiated again, here are a few tips from little ol’ me . . .
Look in the mirror and love your best bits
MY first step would be to try to change your mindset. This is easier said than done but the mind is so connected to the body that you need to believe you are a decent piece of kit worthy of anyone’s bedroom.
Feel good about yourself. No more navel-gazing, woe-is-me. You need to hold your head high and take a good, admiring look at those thighs, that bum, that hairy chest.
If this is you, you may need to consider waxing, but it’s optional!
How we feel about our body determines our interaction with others. At my lowest, without having had intimacy, it was as much about feeling negative about myself as feeling out of practice. Get your pecker up and keep it there.
IT’S not obligatory to polish your body to within an inch of its life but it’s what I like to do to make myself feel better, and a bit more confident.
With my body in its soon-to-be 55th year, I try to make the most of it by improving what I can — exfoliating, pedicuring and waxing.
Share your fears
TALK to friends about your fears and insecurities. If they tell you not to worry and “you’ll be fine”, the chances are they’re smugly married and haven’t been where you are.
Start flirting online
IF you’ve been trying online dating and sending messages — and it is estimated half of couples will meet this way in ten years’ time — why not start the flirting there?
Be suggestive, joke around if that helps, and try engaging in a bit of sexting. It can work wonders for provoking excitement. I’m all for it.
In fact, I don’t know what I would have done without it during the lockdowns. Just think of the joy of being able to get some kind of satisfaction without even having to leave your bedroom.
None of that beautifying in the bathroom, spending hours washing your hair and glamming up.
A bit of Dutch courage is a good thing
IF you get to the point where you are going to meet someone, I recommend my two best partners in crime, Mr Rum and Mrs Coke.
I’m not recommending intoxication — those who don’t want to drink, take some Rescue Remedy perhaps — but sometimes I think we are allowed to have a little mood-alterer. Something that relaxes you. Just the one drink.
I understand this is a controversial suggestion but it’s also realistic. Be a grown-up and drink responsibly.
Honesty truly is best policy
I’M always one for honesty — and comedy. What is wrong with saying you feel nervous and out of practice, making light of the heavy burden that’s weighing on your libido?
Chances are the person you are dealing with feels exactly the same and has been torturing themselves in much the same way as you.
An absolute guarantee is that humour and a bit of self-deprecation will make for a much easier, better re-introduction to a bit of slap and tickle. This is purely anecdotal but I want you to take my word for it.
Everything should be on your terms
INSIST on this. If you are super self-conscious about your body, keep as much of your kit on as you like and keep the lights off.
There are no rules or regulations. Move at your own pace. And remember, you are the boss of you.
Trust your instincts
ONE thing is for sure, and it may be hard to believe, but it really is remarkable how quickly you recall how to do old chores.
Not only does your instinct kick in but so does your muscle memory. I found that just the kissing — the meeting of tongues — was enough to trigger my impulses and my body just followed, all of its own accord.
Remember how you used to lie in bed practising kissing on your pillow when you were a teenager? You don’t? OK, it was just me, then.
You didn’t know what to expect. But now, it’s not fear of the unknown.
It’s just like riding a bike. I mean, it’s much more fun — just doesn’t last as long as a bike ride.
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