Six feet, sex and cyberspace

COVID-19’s impact on sex and online dating

Jessica Winstanley, Contributing Writer

In times of six-foot separation and covered faces, it is hard to imagine dating and sex as we knew them. Lockdowns and stay- at-home orders have put a damper on face-to-face meetings, and many people have taken to the internet to meet people to build romantic and sexual connections.

Due to COVID-19, many couples have turned to their devices to find virtual intimacy. (Illustration by Michael Clement)

When a pandemic becomes a bigger mood-killer than your roommate, it may be difficult to navigate dating and sexual gratification. With this new obstacle in the way, people have had to find new ways to connect.

Online dating has been a huge asset for those facing this challenge. While apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and Hinge have been around a lot longer than COVID-19, there is a newfound demand for these virtual platforms. When a coffee shop meet-up isn’t in the cards, a mutual right-swipe will have to do the trick.

In March 2020 — the beginning of lockdowns for most Americans — Tinder recorded a record-breaking three billion swipes in one day, and Bumble reported a 70% increase in video calls. When the in-person dating world is severely limited, people adapt. Technology and social media displayed their strengths in helping foster connections when they could no longer be built in class, in the park, at the gym or anywhere else.

But what about sex? Virtual dating and hangouts are great for maintaining human connections, but what happens when we want our sexual needs fulfilled? The world of cyberspace may have a solution for that, too.

An October 2020 survey by Basic found that of 2,000 single millennials and Gen Z members, 61% had engaged in some form of cybersex since the pandemic’s beginning. The methodology behind virtual sex varies, with about half simply talking virtually and showing some skin while the other half mixes in visible masturbation, but no matter the method, the outcome is consistent — sexual release.

This increase in cybersex demonstrates how the pandemic has impacted individual’s means of gaining sexual gratification. With instances of cybersex and masturbation on the rise from the start of the pandemic, it is clear that people still want sex, no matter the form. When avoiding physical intimacy in response to a pandemic, it has become popular and important to find pleasure from yourself and from your virtual counterparts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for individuals to build connections and find ways to meet personal sexual needs. Online dating and virtual sex offer solutions that have helped maintain social distancing guidelines while also promoting relationships and pleasure. Young people have capitalized on our digital knowledge and social media savviness to continue feeling fulfilled despite the circumstances. So hop on your phone, open up FaceTime and have a blast.