COVID has made people wait longer to have sex, but is that a good thing?

Who would have thought that 2020 would have been the year we changed the way we do life? So many things have changed this year, dating and connection included! Psycho-sexologist Chantelle Otten shares her insight.

The proof is in the pudding with findings from Bumble’s Intimacy in a Pandemic Report: COVID-19 and government restrictions have changed the dating game, maybe forever.

Single Australians are having sex for the first time later in a new relationship, compared to previously, according to the report.

It also showed that single Australians have new expectations around honesty and openness when it comes to a potential partners’ physical health, and more than half of single Aussies have increased anxieties when it comes to navigating physical intimacy in the age of COVID-19.

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Of course, a pandemic was always going to change the way we date, as safety precautions become an absolute priority. However, as a relationship expert and sexologist, I’ve seen a change in the way we view physical intimacy, with the most interesting being, the demise of casual dating (for now)!

If single Aussies are not physically connected in those early stages of a relationship, does this mean emotional, spiritual and mental connection has an opportunity to reign? And does this fundamental change in the way Australians are dating mean we are creating pathways for stronger connection? I believe so, yes.

While 2020 has been a year not without challenge, COVID-19 has given us space to be able to form connections that delve deeper than casual dating. In fact, over half of Aussies who are single right now are looking for something that is more meaningful, with long-term relationships being a priority.

But how do we get to know a partner really well to ensure physical intimacy, when you feel safe to commit to that part of the relationship, and is set up to be mutually pleasurable? My recommendation is to lean into emotional, mental and spiritual connection; setting the foundations for greater physical intimacy when you feel ready for that next step.

Emotional connection

Being emotionally intimate with someone often means you generate a strong sense of closeness and have the ability to be open and honest about your feelings with them and feel safe in doing so. When it comes to emotional connection in a newly formed relationship my tips are to ask questions, listen to your partner, be honest and laugh.

Being warm and playful in those early stages of a new relationship can really help support strong emotional connection. My other hot tip is to keep your phone in your pocket. Stay in the moment and focus on what you want from that person.

Mental connection

Mental intimacy is the ‘meeting of the minds’ and is when you share your ideals, morals and ethics, allowing you to bond on your shared values and evaluate your differences. I truly believe that a strong relationship doesn’t necessarily need to be built on like minds, but you do need to be able to navigate difference and nurture that in a way that will support great mental connection.

Spiritual connection

I’m not talking about religion, though religious bonding is also a beautiful thing, I’m talking about a shared sense of belief or connection to something bigger than ourselves. A spiritual connection is something that has really had to shine in 2020.

This is when we let our past experiences or negative energy go, and we land in a place of harmony, understanding and peace with our new partner. This can really be a powerful support for a newly formed relationship.

When it comes to dating during a pandemic, we have to remember that COVID is still occurring in Australia so keeping everyone safe is a main priority, but physical distancing doesn’t need to hinder our opportunity to connect. Lean into virtual dating on Bumble, talk on the phone and look at some of your first dates being outdoors in a wide-open space.

All of these things can really support critical emotional, mental and spiritual connection, laying the foundations for physical intimacy that is mutually great for everyone involved… when you feel safe and comfortable to take that next step.

Chantelle Otten is a Melbourne based psycho-sexologist. She has a Bachelor in psychological science; Masters of science medicine, sexual health/psychosexual therapy; went to the ESSM School of Sexual Medicine; and is a European Federation of Sexology (EFS) and European Society of Sexual Medicine (ESSM) certified psycho-sexologist.