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Posted November 1, Reviewed by Jessica Schrader. I mean, before I got married, we used to worry about getting pregnant or getting an STD. I want to date and to have sex if I want to without feeling like it means I have to get into a committed relationship. These questions are coming up regularly in therapy sessions, and not just for singles, but for parents of adolescents who want to be out socializing with friends and flirting with potential first loves. Interestingly, the questions singles have to ask are good ones for parents to be teaching their teens to ask as well—not only now, during the pandemic, but going forward into the dating world after the pandemic is over.
How do you let your potential dating partner know what you are comfortable with? And how do you cope with differences between what you think might be safe and what your date thinks? I spoke with NYC psychotherapist Alessandra Mikic, LMSW, who runs a single women's support group for women between that focuses on building community, connection, and collective care as they attempt to date during the pandemic.
Mental health professionals know that relationships and intimacy are a crucial part of our mental and emotional health. On a YouTube podcast Dr. Sue Johnson, a British clinical psychologist, couples therapist, and author known for her work on adult romantic relationships , noted that many of us are feeling more vulnerable and more aware of how much we need other people during the pandemic.
Even some of my clients who define themselves as introverts and who have enjoyed being able to stay home without pressure to socialize are expressing a desire to make some kind of relationship-related contact. Start talking about what you need to feel safe from the very beginning.
Ask questions about who the other person is in contact with and how they protect themselves and others and share the same information yourself. In some ways, the pandemic has made it easier to do the very thing that relationship therapists encourage in couples: communicate from the beginning.
Because of this push to move quickly, Mikic encourages clients to get clarity about safety and well-being right away. And if something doesn't feel right or safe, trust that intuition and act on it. Unfortunately, as the small things that you never talked about accumulate over time, they can create big ruptures in the connection.
We were just both so eager to please each other that we left ourselves out of a lot of things. Communicating about the difficult things from the beginning of a relationship can make it easier to talk about the small, seemingly inificant things that make up the bedrock of any relationship as you go forward.
Recognize that intimacy is about more than sex. Intimacy is about closeness, and while sex can enhance a connection, it can sometimes also actually interfere with finding out whether this person is someone you can be emotionally close to. Genuine intimacy involves feelings and thoughts and time together. But the experts remind us that sex can be an important part of intimacy. Cooper says that there are many ways to be sexually intimate.
Although in the interview she was talking about how existing couples can be more intimate during the pandemic, some of what she was talking about applies to dating. She explains that sex is about much more than penetration and that it does not have to have a particular goal like an orgasm. So when you're ready for sex, get creative, and encourage your date to be creative as well. The point is to find out if you enjoy one another—without putting yourselves at risk.
P ay attention to emotional needs—yours and the person you are trying to bond with. Suzanne Iasenza, a psychologist who specializes in sex therapy for individuals and couples, writes in her book Transforming Sexual Narratives that sexual relationships can be dysregulating, that is, they can upset our sense of comfort, security, and balance. We have different needs and experiences around sexual connections. Sometimes sex brings us closer to a partner, and sometimes we feel less sexual when we get close to someone.
So it's important to be attuned to your own emotional needs as you consider sexuality in the context of any relationship. In an interview about coupling in the pandemic, Johnson said that while people are worried about contracting coronavirus , they are also struggling with all of the uncertainty related to the pandemic.
But the same is true in reverse. If your potential partner feels unsupported by you, they may not feel inclined to move forward. Again, there is good news among the bad. So if you and your date work on finding ways to talk honestly and openly and listen to one another from the beginning of a relationship, you will have created an excellent base for going forward. Which is another important tool for managing the uncertainty and vulnerability of the pandemic—and life in general. Diane Barth, L. Diane Barth L. Off the Couch. Sex Essential Re. About the Author.
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