Politics

SEX FILES: A case for the grown-up glow up and the decline of one-night stands

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Ah, the “Slutty Summer” that never was. Somewhere in between binging episodes of Tiger King and posting vaccine selfies, there was a time when we playfully predicted the warm months of 2021 would be an erotic Xanadu of sorts, one where, after months of social distancing, eager singles would hookup freely. However, a new study suggests that sexual activity has actually become less important to singles since the start of the pandemic.

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As part of their annual Singles in America study , Match.com surveyed 5,000 singles and found that in the past year and a half, there’s been a renewed interest in “slow love” versus “fast sex.”

According to the study, nearly half of all singles report that their ideal sexual relationship right now would be a committed, exclusive relationship. Even if they don’t hold off from getting busy until they’re monogamous, 78% of singles say they’re picky when considering a partner for casual sex.

While guys are often portrayed as being the most eager to hop in the sack, interestingly, this preference for emotional connection over a purely physical one was most prevalent amongst men. A whopping 81% say they now find sex less important than they did pre-pandemic.

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The study’s lead sexual researchers, Dr. Helen Fisher and Dr. Justin Garcia, suggests that this shift in priorities is due to a variety of biological and social circumstances brought on by the pandemic.

Isolated, we suffered. Testosterone dropped, dopamine dipped, and many of us spent days, months, years not wearing real pants. “You can’t shut a planet and expect people’s physiology to remain the same,” Fisher told the New York Post.  

While I spent most of the first part of the pandemic not wanting to even think about sex; my body reduced to an amorphous blob sheathed in stretch fabric; now that I’m ready to end my COVID sex fast once and for all, I’ve seen a similar phenomenon play out amongst my own relationships and those of my friends.

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My male friends who once likened themselves to being playboys are taking their time, carefully choosing their mates. Physical attraction is still very important, but I’ve noticed them paying more attention and weighing other behavioural traits like personal values, communication and listening skills, before they agree to go out with someone.

On my end, the men I’ve interacted with seem much more interested in establishing an emotional connection than hopping into bed. This falls in line with Match.com’s research and what the New York Post has contributed to what they’ve dubbed “Flaccid Fall.”

If we look beyond the fact that the term “Flaccid Fall” is super problematic (it suggests that all sex needs to involve a penis or even penetration) and my sexual frustration has reached new heights, I don’t think this de-prioritizing of sex is necessarily a bad thing (stay with me here!)

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According to the study, the pandemic has led to “post-traumatic growth.” Or what Match.com calls “The Grown-Up Glow Up,” which may also contribute to a preference for taking things slow. With one night stands experiencing a decline, self improvement has been on the rise.

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Data shows that over the course of the pandemic, an overwhelming majority of singles became better at caring for their physical and mental health, prioritizing important things in their lives, building stronger family relationships, unplugging from social media and increasing their self-confidence. In turn, this has ignited an appetite for more meaningful, steadfast and (dare I say) sexy, long-term relationships.

In other words, sex isn’t over. We’re just being more mindful about it. In fact, half of singles say they’ve learned something new sexually since the pandemic, with more people now open to experimenting with sex toys and sharing sexual fantasies with their partners.

As for me, I have a way better understanding of what I need from a partner emotionally than I did 18 months ago, which in turn, will only benefit my sex life going forward. In other words, just because the fire burns slow doesn’t make it any less hot.

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