How to Do It

Do I Need to Stop Sleeping With New Guys Because of the Coronavirus?

It’s better than going to a party, right?

A man and woman kiss, as a COVID-19 germ lingers over them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by tBoyan/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

This week, the bonus chat question comes early.

Dear How to Do It,

For lack of a better way of putting it: Do I need to stop hoeing around because of the coronavirus? I recently got out of a relatively short but very intense and stressful relationship—it got serious very quickly, and ended just as quickly—and dating and having sex again without all the fuss has been a godsend. But as I’m about to go out with my third guy of the week, with the full intention of making out with him and probably more, I’m wondering if I’m part of the problem, in terms of spreading the virus and burdening our health care system’s capacity. It’s better than going to a party, I’d say, and it’s great stress management. What do you think?

—Love in the Time of Etc.

Rich: Given how fast things are changing, I’m sure that this seemed more ambiguous just a few days ago when our writer sent it.

Stoya: For sure. And you handled an earlier question last week.

Rich: Yes, and even that seems out of date at this point. It’s pretty clear now that all interpersonal contact must be limited to the absolute necessity.

Stoya: I know this is going to blow minds, but here goes … sex, in the short term, is not a need. Definitely not in this case.

Rich: I agree. And expressing that feels really at odds with everything we’ve been espousing for over a year in this column. But here we are. This is not about sex negativity. It’s life or death for many people. It’s about every individual’s responsibility to help contain this virus.

Stoya: Unlike, say, deciding to forgo a condom without proper testing, unnecessary interaction with the outside world right now could easily affect large amounts of other people.

Rich: Right. Even if you aren’t concerned about the potential effects the virus may have on you, say, if you are a young and healthy person who could bounce back from it, you have to see yourself as a potential vector and limit contact with anyone outside of your immediate household.

Stoya: Exactly.

Rich: It’s beyond sex. And the other point of doing this now is to shorten the amount of time we’ll spend sequestered. Give hospitals, and researchers searching for a vaccine, as much lead time as possible.

Stoya: Reduce the strain on the health system.

Rich: This article has been my bible in terms of what to do right now. I’m wondering if the permissive attitude toward going outside will change in the coming days. Right now, long walks are helping to keep me sane. I am staying 6 feet away from people.

Stoya: I’m used to long periods of time alone working from home. And because of my career in porn, I’m accustomed to not being able to have sex for extended periods of time. I think people are aware that sometimes the adult industry has a positive HIV result during regular testing and shuts down; it’s called a moratorium. During those holds, while the test is confirmed and potential exposures are traced, we aren’t allowed to shoot anything with the possibility of fluid transmission. Until performers know if we may have been exposed, it’s a very bad idea to have sex.

So I have some tips: Get a couple of different kinds of sex toys. Do situps or pushups or anything to help burn off that excess energy you aren’t venting sexually. Skype or sext for erotic interaction.

Rich: Speaking of porn, there’s a trove of it online! Use it.

Stoya: Yes!

Rich: What’s interesting to me is that the long-bemoaned isolating nature of the internet may turn out to be our salvation. What a world. I wouldn’t even recommend, at this crucial juncture, hooking up with regulars who’ve been out doing God knows what. I certainly haven’t been doing so this week, and I’ve been off the apps too.

Stoya: I was seeing the one person I’m seriously dating who lives within walking distance. He went home today to a different state.

Rich: The way I see this is as a time for hopefully minor sacrifices to save us from having to make major ones later. Casual sex with randoms is so much fun, but there are other ways to occupy your time. Find them.

More How to Do It

My husband and I have been married for seven years. We started out very strong sexually, but over the past few years, he has stopped bathing and brushing his teeth regularly. Sometimes he goes more than two weeks without bathing. He’s dirty (he works a manual labor job) and he smells awful. So we aren’t having sex and haven’t been in a while. I tell him that I can’t consider a physical relationship with him because of this, but he doesn’t believe me—he tells me that it’s my problem, that I don’t love him or I’m not attracted to him. He is very angry a lot of the time and blames his attitude on me “withholding sex.” I’m not sure what to do.