22.05.2020 change 22.05.2020

Love During Lockdown: Sexpert on Relationships and the Sex Life of Poles During Pandemic

Credit: Fotolia Credit: Fotolia

Interest in online pornography has increased during the pandemic, and in Polish relationships there are more conflicts and domestic violence – and more sex. Social isolation is often a survival test for a relationship, teacher, sexologist and family counselor Professor Zbigniew Izdebski says in an interview with PAP.

So far, stress and fatigue have been the biggest obstacles in sexual relations of Poles. But with the coronavirus lockdown people are forced to spend more time together; they can talk more and have sex more often. But they are not always able to benefit from this for a number of reasons, says Professor Zbigniew Izdebski, head of the Department of Biomedical Basics of Development and Sexology at the University of Warsaw and the Department of Humanization in Medicine and Sexology at the University of Zielona Góra.

According to the researcher, social isolation is a huge survival test for a relationship, especially one that has already had its problems. This applies to both toxic relationships and 'neutral' ones. “More people can decide to part ways. They do not get along, which is even more apparent during the isolation, or they feel lonely despite being together,” he says.

Professor Izdebski's previous research shows that 10 percent of Polish women and men live in so-called parallel relationships. He is interested in the dynamics of these relationships after the epidemic, because - as he says - some people have remained in a relationship until now only because they had a second partner.

Not only parents, but also their children spend more time at home, which can hinder intimate life. This results in conflicts in relationships and in contacts with children.

Izdebski says: “Research shows that in recent years the Polish family has largely left the upbringing process to school. Isolation has made us spend more time together, but this is not a friendly time to raise children and introduce certain rigors. This results in additional tensions in relations with children. And you can't just slam the door and leave the house.”

He emphasizes that the sense of intimacy has to be maintained at home, for example it is better to refrain from entering a teenager's room without knocking. “Children should also knock when they enter their parents' room. This avoids unnecessary conflicts. Everyone needs their own space, especially now during the period of isolation,' he says.

Should a rise in pregnancies be expected as a result of the epidemic and the requirement to stay home? “Not necessarily, because there is a real fear of coronavirus infection and its consequences, as well as of job loss. In addition, we do not know how people in Poland handle the issue of contraceptives during social isolation,' the professor adds.

Izdebski says he is not worried about so-called singles since “some people living alone do not necessarily feel strong effects of social isolation, because they are often happy in solitude, and the Internet, including dating sites, helps stay in contact with others.”

He adds that the number of people dating online has also increased, and they have recently started to meet in the real world, as the fear of infection is gradually weakening.

In his opinion, the demand for help from psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists will increase in the near future, which is already visible. Although he admits that some people, especially in corporations, handle remote work well and it is not as burdensome for them as direct work in the office.

Professor Izdebski is the author of many reports on the sexual behaviour of Poles. Another paper titled 'Health and sex life of Polish women and men aged 18-49 in 2017. A research study against the background of changes since 1997' will be published at the end of June 2020. Currently Izdebski is carrying out a research project on sexual health and relationships during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do not yet have the results of surveys, we can only talk about certain observations resulting from the practice of sexologists and psychologists. Many of them are disturbing,” he says.

Observations to date show that interest in online pornography has increased. “During the coronavirus pandemic, it may be one of the few pleasures for some people. Sometimes it is an inspiration to revive sexual contact in a relationship. But in some cases, people may get bored with pornography they used to watch, and start looking for new sensations, enter websites they haven't even thought of before,” he says.

A more serious problem is domestic violence, which also happens during the pandemic. This applies not only to physical and mental violence, but also to sexual violence, including marital rape.

Izdebski says: “The danger is that such situations do not have to cease with the end of the pandemic. I hope that we will learn a lot about this subject from our research.”


Author: Zbigniew Wojtasiński

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