I would kill to have an orgasm, but I refuse to die for one. This is my daily quarantine mantra. I whisper it when I get a Raya alert. I scream it laughing with friends. Eventually I send it straight to a director – the kind who thinks that if he slips in my DMs, I’m going to slip out of my clothes. Of course, this is forbidden during quarantine, but I admit it is tempting to make an exception, especially when it texted “You are funny” instead of “LOL”. As HamiltonAngelica cherished “a comma after” dearest “,” modern women know that the secret code of attentive lovers is a fully typed contraction.
Still, there’s no way I’m meeting a stranger right now, because (1) we’re still in a pandemic, and (2) as a peak in sex toy sales shows, the sisters are doing it. for (and for) themselves. If I get sick just because a guy can use words instead of emojis, I will die of shame before I die from COVID-19.
“Everyone I know is scared of being on a fan because of a nightstand,” admits Serena Kerrigan, 26, host of Let’s Fucking Date, a show examining aspiring suitors via Instagram Live. . Bumble sponsored one episode and may sponsor future ones in Season 2. Until then, Kerrigan is virtually dating new people (and has a low-key date with his neighbor). “The nightstands are too risky at the moment. Instead, you get a COVID test, the guy takes a COVID test, and you turn it into a one-month stand. It’s very useful. Many of my friends have them too. “
Once called a “mini-relationship” by eharmony and “a party for your engagement issues” by my mom, the one-month stand is an arrangement merging casual sex with temporary intimacy. If a one-night stand is, to quote sex therapist Shan Boodram, “the burrito of microwave sex,” then its four-week equivalent is the blue apron: practical, organized, and branded – like all good food – with a clear expiration date.
“I see the month-long booth as an evolution of the hookup culture,” says Helen Fisher, PhD, senior researcher at the Kinsey Institute and expert in female sexuality. “Truly random sex is unlikely during a pandemic – you aren’t bringing home a stranger from a bar, hopefully. Now there is an extended dating process going on as it all starts on a virtual level. While apps like Bumble report increased activity, video chat has replaced a first date … and a second and a third. “When you’re ready to meet in person – a step that has added weight during the pandemic – it’s more of a deal,” says Fisher. And because 2020 is a time of profound change, the usual concerns about “going too fast” or “ending things too soon” don’t really apply. How can our friends or our own inner voices say, “This relationship is not normal” as the whole world blindly stumbles to a new normal?
But despite a changed world, some truths still hold true, such as that sleeping with someone doesn’t guarantee true love, even if the connection lasts 24 days instead of 24 hours. According to statistics from an annual national Match.com survey, on average, 35 percent of respondents who had “friend-with-benefits” relationships progressed to a long-term relationship. Meanwhile, four weeks is a natural endpoint for casual sex, says Fisher, “because the dopamine rush we get from arousal often wears off. [that] time.”
“That’s exactly what happened to me,” says Stevie, * a 39-year-old event planner from Brooklyn who recently ended her month-long booth with 32-year-old Ana. “Initially, we bonded because of physical attraction, plus we both had been put on leave. But Ana stayed super focused on her career, and I said, ‘Go on, I just wanna go [mountain] climb and be outside. We were both cool with the ending; it was just time.
“People are definitely trying to set up new types of connections,” says Jean Yang, PhD, an MIT-trained computer scientist and founder and CEO of Akita Software, whose quarantine experience, JeanDate, has matched hundreds of couples using human shape recognition (she matched people based on what she knew about them). “But the four week mark is often when I hear from women, ‘This is done; put me back in place! If there isn’t a really deep connection, it just loses steam. “
A 37-year-old musician named Heather * learned this truth after moving from SoHo to New York City, South Carolina and having a one-month booth soon after. “Normally my heart can’t accept casual sex,” Heather says. “But I don’t even remember what day it is! Right now, a month of privacy is all I have to offer. We have remained friends, because after four weeks there is no bitterness. Ironically, I had long-term relationships that were ‘serious’, but this [one-month stand] was the healthiest I have known in a while.
If it were a movie, the month-long booth would turn into a self-conscious, yet still serious romantic comedy one of the genre with a Lumineers soundtrack and a teary epiphany from Issa Rae. “People assume that for single women, lockdown means we have to lock up a mate or we’re just sad,” Kerrigan says. “In reality, it is the opposite. We save so much time eliminating people who are not worth our energy. To be true with you, even after it’s safe to log in or out again safely, I don’t see the point in going back to such a broken system.
Honestly, why would we do it? A month-long stand is a way to tackle the crucial ‘pleasure learning curve’ for women’s sexual development, to test a potential connection in times of madness, and to come away fairly unscathed if the going. take their course. The concept even accords with guidelines from health experts, such as those published by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which seksbuddies (which, yes, are exactly what they sound like). Studies even show that having regular sex helps to increase antibody levels.
Back on my bed, the texts continue: Come for a walk? asks the director. A walk to where? I retaliate. The three point dance unfolds on my screen as he types a potential response, erases it, retypes and finally hits Send. Let’s walk into the future. Next year? Next month? It might be better there. He has no idea.
* Some names have been changed.
This article appears in the October 2020 issue of ELLE.
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