The widespread social restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and fears of viral transmission significantly disrupted people’s sexual routines and the overall quality of their sex lives (Lehmiller, Garcia, Gesselman, & Mark, 2020). However, as the pandemic has worn on and as vaccines for COVID-19 have become widely available, the impacts have changed. The goal of this presentation is to explore the evolution of sexual and romantic relationships during the pandemic drawing upon Kinsey Institute research conducted over the last two years, with particular emphasis on a demographically representative survey of 2,200 American adults conducted over the summer of 2021. Results point to an overall rise in sexual experimentation and kink, decreased interest in casual sex and multi-partner activities, and improved relationship quality and sexual communication for partners who stayed together. Vaccinated Americans appear to be approaching sex more cautiously than those who are unvaccinated in terms of the intentions to practice safer sex in the future. Vaccination status has also become a screening tool for sexual and romantic partners for many Americans, but especially those who identify as LGBTQ. Overall, the findings reveal that Americans’ sexual and romantic lives have continued to evolve throughout the pandemic and remain changed from pre-pandemic levels in many ways. Practical and clinical implications will be discussed. Clinicians will gain a better understanding of current sexual and relationship challenges, how they vary across demographic groups, and tools for addressing these difficulties.
1) Explain how the pandemic has affected people’s sex lives and relationships, and how the impacts have changed over time.
2) Discuss how COVID-19 is associated with sexual risk-taking behavior and sexual experimentation.
3) List 3 common sexual difficulties experienced during the pandemic and how people coped with them.
4) Discuss 2 ways clinicians can address the sexual difficulties resulting from the pandemic.