Sex expert Suzi Godson answers the dilemmas for lovers out of practice
Q. We've made all kinds of fruity promises to each other on late-night calls during the past few weeks. I'm worried about delivering on them.
A. Relax. You've had to make up for the absence of physical stimulation by escalating the erotic narrative. Not being together meant pushing plenty of boundaries a bit. Just because you made saucy suggestions then doesn't mean you want to act on them now. When you finally meet, just being able to touch and rediscover each other will be enough to make that fantasy narrative redundant.
Q. My partner has only seen me looking pretty great from the neck up on video dinner dates, but I've gained a few pounds.
A. Don't worry, chances are that after three months tethered to a full fridge, so has your partner. A recent King's College/Ipsos Mori poll found that 48% of people have gained weight during lockdown. Yes, it would have been helpful if hairdressers had reopened before date night, but after all this time apart you'll be so delighted to be together again that 3in roots, love handles and facial hair will all be fondly remembered in years to come.
Q. I haven't seen my girlfriend for nearly three months. She is very excited about finally getting together. I am worried I might underperform.
A. Enjoy her butterflies and yours while they last. They'll work in your favour. Unlike real fear, this anxiety is more likely to help than hinder your sexual performance. The physiological symptoms of mild anxiety and sexual arousal are so similar that the brain can't distinguish the difference, so when you feel both simultaneously, levels of sexual desire and excitement are heightened.
Q. I live alone and have been virtually dating someone I "met" six weeks ago. I feel I know them well, but it doesn't feel right to jump into bed the first time we are together.
A. There is a certain chemistry that can only be tested in the flesh. However well you think you have got to know each other, wait and see how it really feels to be together, and know that you are under no obligation to get between the sheets. Don't make the mistake of letting alcohol make the decision for you either. A glass of something may take the pressure off, but there's no joy in agreeing to sex that you don't feel comfortable about having. Pack some condoms in case you decide you do want to, of course.
Q. Is it acceptable to NOT have sex? I'd like to take it slowly after all this time.
A. If the relationship was new before lockdown, then it is absolutely fine to take your time reintroducing sex. If you were in an established sexual relationship, not wanting to have sex indicates a certain degree of discomfort or lack of interest that you might want to think about.
Q. I'm worried absence hasn't made the heart grow fonder. I'm not as thrilled about seeing him as he is about seeing me. Do I just tell him before we meet?
A. Lockdown has given us an opportunity to pause and think about what we really want from life, work and relationships. If you aren't excited about getting back together, maybe it's time to bite the bullet and talk about the relationship not feeling right for you. It is better to be honest, and fairer to have that conversation sooner rather than later.