Swinging in Pandemic Times
By Lexi Sylver for ASN Lifestyle Magazine
Because fuck, are we ever horny after months and months of social isolation! I know I am.
But… before you go out there and live your sexiest swinging lifestyle without a care in the world, remember that just because places have reopened, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 has disappeared.
So, how can we safely and responsibly navigate sex and dating in our new reality and ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
Let me share a few things for you to keep in mind as you explore your swinging relationship in the new age of coronavirus.
Be Aware of the Risks
Coronavirus is NOT a hoax. If you think it is, you should definitely stop reading this article right now. Still reading? Fantastic.
FACT: There’s absolutely no way to play with other people that’s 100% risk-free, which is true of coronavirus as well as any sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD).
The safest sex you can have is with yourself, so masturbate away!
But, if you insist on playing with others during these uncertain times, you CAN assess your personal risk factors, as well as those of your potential partner(s), and make the most informed decision possible for your health and the health of your partner(s).
COVID doesn’t discriminate based on gender or age. Anyone can get it and/or pass it on to others, even if they’re asymptomatic. It’s also tricky, because it can also take 1-14 days for people to develop symptoms if they do have it, so even if someone says they “feel fine,” there’s no definitive way to know if they have the virus without specifically getting tested. Also, even if someone had the virus before, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re immune to getting it again. There’s so much that’s still unknown about the novel coronavirus, so it’s important to be as safe as possible.
Check Out the Place’s Safety Measures
Different sex clubs, bars and other establishments have put in place various measures to protect their employees and patrons.
Before you venture out, it’s a good idea to find out what those are, so that you can determine how comfortable you feel about going out, or whether it’s too high-risk for you.
For instance, if you’re going to a sex club, are the play areas being cleaned often or in any special way? Is the club well-ventilated? Are they taking reservations in advance to uphold the legal limits of the number of people allowed on the premises at any given time? Are they doing on-site temperature checks at the door? Are masks required? Will disinfectant be readily available?
Disclose Your Status and Ask Potential Playmates About Theirs
As swingers and folks in open relationships, many of us are already quite accustomed to talking more openly about STIs and STDs, how recently someone’s been tested, their preferred protection / barrier methods, etc.
Since it’s normal to have those more sensitive conversations to assess those usual risk factors, it should feel equally normal to find out about a play partner’s potential risk of COVID.
I’m not going to hesitate to ask someone if they use condoms for sex, because I won’t have sex with someone who goes bareback. So it’s my choice to say no to them if their level of protection (or lack thereof) makes me feel uncomfortable.
Some questions you could ask include: whether they’ve had any symptoms within the last 14 days, if they’ve ever been diagnosed with COVID-19, if they’ve been practicing social distancing, whether or not they’ve been in risky interactions with others who might have had the virus, etc.
Don’t forget: if someone brushes off your questions or doesn’t think that talking about protection is important, then how safe are they actually being with other partners? Not just with COVID, but with STIs and STDs?
Forge a Safe Sex Pandemic Pod
This is for all my fellow fans of group sex!
If you INSIST on continuing to have group sex during the pandemic, less is more: try as much as possible to limit the size of your group.
Your safest bet (aside from solo sex, or sex with your main play partner, of course) is to choose a few partners who you know are being careful about their health.
You’ll have much more fun relaxing and playing with partners you trust and know they’re being equally safe with any other partners they’re with.
Sure, sex with strangers can be fucking hot. But this isn’t really the best time to get physical with someone whose health and risk factors you don’t know.
PS… if you like group sex, you’re going to love my book, Mating Season!
The New No-Kissing Rule
Moaning, panting, and talking dirty to our partner(s) can spread the virus even farther and make it extra risky because of our close proximity to each other. So, wearing a mask during sex and avoiding kissing are important at times like these.
Quick science recap: the virus is usually transmitted via small droplets from the nose or mouth, like when a person coughs, sneezes, and speaks. Although lots of research still needs to be done, there has been some evidence that the virus can be found in feces, so don’t rim your partners without using dental dams or other protective barriers (avoid it completely, if you can). I’ll even go a step further and say that it can be possible that the virus could be present in urine and other bodily fluids, so try to reduce your exposure to those as much as possible. This isn’t the time for fluid play, folx.
Keep practicing safe sex to reduce your risk of coronavirus and, of course, to protect yourself against the usual STIs and STDs. Condoms should be used for penetrative sex; dental dams and condoms for oral sex, and latex gloves for manual stimulation.
Don’t forget to change those barriers when you switch between oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as between partners (if you’re in a group sex scenario).
Keep Your Mind Dirty and Your Hands Clean
I’m hoping you’re already doing this, but here’s an extra reminder, anyway. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (for 20 seconds) and/or use alcohol-based hand disinfectant. These super simple methods can help protect you against any cold or flu, including coronavirus. Always wash up before and after sex! (But DON’T use alcohol-based disinfectant on or in your genitals! Ouch...)
I’m not yet at the stage where I’m comfortable enough frequenting sex clubs. Private home parties will be safer (and more limited to people whose health and contact risks you can more readily trust).
Any areas that others touch or play in could be contaminated with the virus, so you can get sick if you touch those surfaces or objects and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
The risk is pretty high in common play spaces, because it’s going to be virtually impossible to clean those surfaces as quickly as they’re getting dirty... and as the action intensifies (and number of participants increases).
Whether you’re in a sex club or someone’s home, try to play in areas where others haven’t been before. Disinfect and wipe down areas that might have been used by others before you before playing there. Or... do it standing up!
Which brings me to…
Gloryholes, anyone?! The New York City Department of Health released “Safer Sex and COVID-19” guidelines, which are kinkier than you’d expect from a government body:
“Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.”
However, even if you’re using a gloryhole, you still need to use condoms and other barriers for safe sex, and of course, practice the basic hygiene methods I mentioned above.
Say MMM to Mutual Masturbation
Are you a voyeur and/or exhibitionist like me? (I’m both, by the way.)
Then mutual masturbation may be for you! I find the concept so underrated! Masturbating at a distance in front of your partner, or multiple partners, gives you the chance to explore your voyeuristic and exhibitionistic sides while reducing your potential risk.
You can get creative and meet up with potential play partners in your respective cars, parking just far enough away to respect social distancing. Open the car doors to better watch each other fuck yourselves. If you want to hear each other’s ecstasy even better, keep your phones on in the car to get a stereo version of all the moaning and groaning.
And, if you still aren’t comfortable enough to be that close to your play partner, or don’t think you can resist the urge to jump them if you see them, then you can still watch each other masturbate over video. That’s always sexy.
Decide for Yourself
Are there folks out there who aren’t taking precautions, refuse to wear masks, and are under the mistaken impression that COVID-19 isn’t really a big deal? Unfortunately, yes they are, and they’re ruining the fun for the rest of us.
If you’re unlike them, and you actually give a fuck about your and others’ health, you’ll probably want to make decisions that prioritize your health.
So please: don’t compromise on protecting yourself to have safer sex and interactions, and don’t let anyone pressure you into situations that will make you feel anxious and uncomfortable.
As a general rule, ANYONE who tries to pressure or coerce you into doing ANYTHING you don’t want to do — whether it’s not wearing a condom or refusing to wear a mask, or otherwise disrespecting ANY of your boundaries, and makes you feel unsafe — is NOT someone who deserves to be playing with you in the first place. You deserve better!
This isn’t a fully comprehensive list of ways to reduce your risks and protect others and yourself from the novel coronavirus (as well as other STIs and STDs!), but I do hope this helps give you at least some perspective when you’re getting ready to play during these pandemic times.
As a final note: sexting with your partner(s) is 100% safe and always sexy, whether you’re just sexting as foreplay or using it as your only source of sexual stimulation right now.
Until next time, Stay Lexual, my friends and fiends.
This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.