Here’s how to safely navigate a hook up in the pandemic, according to experts

Nobody expects you to be celibate forever

Written by Jamie J. LeClaire

We are six months into a global pandemic that put an abrupt and total stop on so many people’s sex lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m suffering. Not only from lack of sex, but lack of touch, something proven to have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.

I think it’s about time we check in with the experts and see what they’re saying about what navigating dating and hooking up safely and ethically, if at all, looks like at this time.

You are *still* your safest sex partner

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene guidelines, masturbation is still the safest option. It will not spread COVID-19, as long as you are sure to wash your hands and any sex toys before and after.

The second best option is someone you live with, though if either of you are coming into close contact with those who could be carrying COVID-19 it’s best to refrain from very close contact, even within the home. If you live with a partner who may be at high risk and are limiting contact, mutual masturbation sessions can be extremely pleasurable and sexy.

The NYC Department of Health also advises limiting contact with anyone outside of your household, however if you are to have sex with others, they strongly suggest having as few partners as possible and they offer some ways to do so in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVI9-19, which we’ll get into.

Communicate with your partner

Dr. Margarida Rafael, resident relationship expert at Adore Passion suggests that if you choose to seek out physical companionship of the sexual variety during the pandemic, there are a few things you should discuss with your partner prior to getting intimate:

Take as many precautions as possible

If we choose to engage in sex with people outside of our household, there are some things we should prioritize for both the safety of ourselves and the safety of others.

“One can’t be too cautious about their health and the health of people they love. Even if we’re young and more likely to bounce back to normal after catching COVID-19, some people we love wouldn’t be able to do the same,”  to Dr. Lina Velikova, MD, Ph.D., a medical advisor at Supplements101, reminds us.

Some steps we can take prior to engaging in (hopefully limited) hookups are: washing up before and after sex, as well as washing any sex toys with soap and water, disinfecting areas (sheets, pillowcases, etc.)  that you and your partner(s) touched during sexual activities, as well as physical barrier methods such as dental dams and internal and external condoms wherever necessary.

In line with the updated NYC Department of Health guidelines, implementing barriers, like walls, whenever possible is advisable (read: if you can swing it, glory-holes are recommended!) Avoiding contact that will more easily spread the virus, like kissing and rimming, is also strongly urged, as is wearing masks and engaging in positions where there is less face-to-face contact.

Safety doesn’t stop there

Once you have engaged with someone intimately, wash and disinfect yourself afterwards. Ideally, you can both get tested immediately afterwards. If you cannot find a free or low cost testing option near you, there are several at-home COVID-19 testing solutions like Everlywell and Let’s Get Checked.

If you can both quarantine for as long as it takes to find out your results from the test, that is the safest way to engage. If you cannot, try your best to avoid high-risk populations, like the elderly and the immunocompromised, and monitor your symptoms closely.

Let those who might be affected by your decisions know

If you live with anyone, or come into close intimate contact with anyone else on a regular basis, you also have responsibility to communicate with them about your extra-household affairs. You should be prepared to openly discuss solutions, compromises and boundaries that will help keep those affected by your decisions safe.

In order to keep these people in the loop, you should also be having ongoing discussions with your hookup partner(s) about any symptoms, testing frequency, who is in their inner circle, how many other partners have they been with during the pandemic and how often they see them, plus, any other important factors in your determining your safest course of action.

Get down digitally whenever possible

If you can limit your in-person interactions, or at least a percentage of them, we will all be a lot safer, and get through this a lot quicker. Getting off with another person digitally can be incredibly hot and a ton of fun. Try sexting all day and sending lewd pics leading up to an eventual video or phone sex session. Try a new long-distance toy and have your partner tease you all day long until you’re begging them to let you finish.

Exchange fantasies over the phone, send each other naughty gifs of things you want to do with each other, the list goes on. With all the technology we have, there is no reason you can’t have pleasurable and satisfying sexually intimate interactions with another person in real-time, virtually.

The bottom line

Remember, engaging in intimate encounters during a pandemic holds immense risk not only for yourself but for others, so try to do so as safely as possible. For more guidance, check out the National Coalition of STD Directors FAQ and fact sheets for partners inside and outside your home.

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