'Porn doesn't even spark joy anymore': Alone and sexually frustrated amid COVID-19 pandemic | Inquirer Lifestyle

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‘Porn doesn’t even spark joy anymore’: Alone and sexually frustrated amid COVID-19 pandemic

JAKARTA — Like many others who are required to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fachri – not his real name – has been busy filling his spare time with an assortment of activities, from polishing his writing skills to playing video games, on top of doing the day-to-day work-related stuff.

But as the situation in Indonesia shows little progress in recovering, with more than 9,500 people officially infected by the disease as of Tuesday afternoon, the 28-year-old researcher felt a sense of frustration set in, as he found out that trying out new things could not always replace his pre-quarantine routines.

This frustration is further offset by the fact that Fachri lives alone in a kos-kosan (rooming house) in Jakarta.

The endless stream of information on COVID-19 that populates his news and social media feed and dominates discussions in his work and friendship circles has him feeling more mentally drained and lonelier as time passes.

To nip those feelings categorically in the bud, Fachri would usually resort to the cheap and instant gratification that comes from sexual self-stimulation.

“One of the things I like to do is masturbate or watch porn, which are not new things for me. In this kind of situation, I feel like those two are the easiest ways to cast away my frustrations,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.

But sometimes not even self-pleasure may be enough to weather the large-scale social restrictions currently in place.

The unforeseen impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on his mental condition, Fachri believes, has affected so much of his sex life that getting pleasure out of sexual activities is no longer as fulfilling as it used to be.

“Although I feel like the intensity of my masturbating has increased markedly from [pre-pandemic] times, I am slowly getting bored from doing it all the time,” he said. “The sensation is lost on me.”

Sex, as much as Indonesia’s largely conservative society tries to disregard, has offered solace for many people during this time of restricted physical and social interactions. As such, the shelter-in-place orders set up as a form of physical distancing have unwittingly affected the sex lives of many people as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

AFP reported earlier this month that contraception giant Karex from neighboring Malaysia had witnessed an increase in demand for its condoms “as people worldwide are confined to their homes”, despite a gloomy forecast that sees fewer condoms produced due to massive restrictions implemented across the country.

Meanwhile in India, the same report notes that sales of contraceptives rose between 25 to 35 percent in the week after the country announced its nationwide lockdown last month.

Adult entertainment sites such as Pornhub have even offered 30 days of free “premium” access to its large library of videos, becoming a spoil for many people and an extra incentive to stay at home during quarantine season.

Risks and remorse

While couples can still fulfill their needs while sheltering in place, sexually active lone wolves like Fachri often have to settle for themselves, as finding a hookup or meeting noncohabitant partners still bears the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“In the past five weeks, there was one instance when I felt really [sexually frustrated] and I ended up breaking my own rule of not hooking up with one of my friends. I realized that I took a really big risk by doing that,” Fachri said.

“And surprisingly, instead of getting pleasure out of it, I didn’t enjoy it at all,” he added.

The experience has him considering sex toys and exploring genres of pornography that he never thought to try.

Nadya and Wahyu – also not their real names – suffer from a condition similar to Fachri’s.

Wahyu, 25, a photographer living in Bandung, West Java, admitted that the quarantine policy had left him emotionally weary and sexually frustrated, to a point where he felt he could not handle it anymore.

“A week ago, I decided to give dating apps a go as I was quite fed up with masturbation and porn. I needed a real person [to be with]. But after the hookup, it felt like this wasn’t what I was looking for,” he said.

“I am utterly confused because I can’t figure out the answer [to my frustration].”

An Indonesian based in Malaysia, Nadya said she could not even resist the urge to meet with her friends-with-benefits a few days after the country announced its movement control order (MCO) last month, in which residents are only allowed to go out of their homes to buy food, groceries and medicine.

Malaysia imposed the MCO on March 14 for an initial two-week period but as of April 23, authorities extended the policy until May 12. Going that long without sex was simply out of the question for the 25-year-old woman.

“Porn doesn’t even spark joy anymore; there’s no communication or touching that arouses me. So I’ve been meeting him twice a week since the MCO came into effect,” Nadya said.

“We have talked about the risks of meeting one another during this situation, but we trust each other. We take care of our own hygiene and health,” she added.

Sexual frustration is normal in a pandemic

Sex psychologist Baby Jim Aditya said that experiencing social frustrations during the pandemic was a probable occurrence, as the uncertainty that arises from the current situation would be felt in every facet of people’s lives, whether economic, psychological, social or sexual.

But the probability of sexual frustration is even greater among those who live on their own.

“The inability to meet directly or have physical contact with other people already creates frustration. There is also the possibility that people who are sexual frustrated are also the ones who had lost their jobs [as a result of the outbreak],” she told the Post last week.

Baby likens substituting sexual intercourse with masturbation or porn to reading the wrong indicator when driving a vehicle. “When our vehicle runs out of fuel but we fail to read the right indicator, we may think that it is only lacking water. So when we fill it up with water and it doesn’t work at all, the craving for [the other] still remains,” she said.

For another renowned sex psychologist, Zoya Amirin, the COVID-19 pandemic should be seen as an opportunity for those who are single and sexually active to explore their sexuality, by properly learning to satisfy themselves without porn.

“Masturbation is our safest sexual expression, but we also need to do it in a healthy way. We need to masturbate to explore our own bodies – we aren’t supposed to be encouraged by desperation,” Zoya said recently.

She said that people should stop comparing their current sex lives with the normalcy they felt before the COVID-19 pandemic. “If we keep saying things like, ‘I am so desperate’, ‘I don’t have anyone’ or ‘I feel lonely during this pandemic’, this will only lead to more [frustration] when we masturbate.

“We also have to think of it as the new normal in terms of sexuality. The challenge for those single and sexually active now is how to spoil themselves,” Zoya told the Post.

“If we can empower ourselves through sexual fantasy, it will help us manage our sex lives without judgment. It will lead to a better, healthier sex life.”