‘Life’s unbearably boring’: These young people haven’t had sex in a year due to lockdown

‘I feel lonely, isolated and undesirable’

Look, a year of seemingly endless lockdowns, restrictions and convoluted tier systems has been fun for exactly no one. But we need to start talking about the group of people who have had perhaps a worse year than anyone else: Those who haven’t had sex since before March 2020. Whilst some of us have spent the last year merrily shagging away until whenever lockdown ends, many young people have been legally enforced into celibacy.

Whether they’re back home and don’t want to answer awkward questions from their parents, have swiped to the end of Tinder and can’t go clubbing to meet anyone fit, or are just scared of breaking lockdown restrictions, they haven’t had a shag and they’re fed up. They miss sex, of course, but many say they’re also just missing intimacy and any form of human contact. Plus, they feel they’re wasting their prime years of being young, fit and fun, instead feeling undesirable and, most of all, lonely.

These 11 young people haven’t had sex during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are their stories:

‘I’ll be more nervous when I am intimate with someone again’

“Spontaneity has been temporarily eradicated due to Covid and planning sex takes away much of the fun you gain from having it,” 20-year-old Cyann says. She’s “dabbled” with messaging and going on Tinder, before realising she didn’t want to meet people online “and not get the positives of organically meeting.” Plus, she’s living with her parents: “This is not where I ‘live’ so there is no point in getting involved with people. And over lockdown, talking to people requires more effort and more keen interest. I would rather use this time to focus on myself.”

Not having sex over the pandemic “makes me feel slightly embarrassed,” Cyann says, “but this is silly because everyone is in the same boat. It also makes me feel like I’ll be more nervous when I am intimate with someone again. I mainly miss the intimacy and having fun with people, exploring different things.”

Cyann considered breaking lockdown for sex, due to “wanting to see new people and have company that was new and refreshing”, but decided against it. “I do not ‘need’ sex, I can make myself feel the same gratification from sex in other ways.”

‘I would definitely break lockdown if my mum wasn’t just downstairs’

Jennifer last had sex in February 2020, right before lockdown when she returned home from uni. She went back to uni in September, but is once more at home for this lockdown. “It’s very lonely being stuck at home all the time, especially when close friends have partners. I would definitely break lockdown and have a guy over if my mum wasn’t just downstairs,” she says.

Jennifer’s been on a couple of dates, but “neither of them went particularly well. If someone offered to come over (and I wasn’t stuck at home with my parents) I would say yes,” she says. “It’s very difficult to find hookups on Tinder and stuff. I used to just take home one night stands from the club. I can’t do that anymore and am not really confident enough when sober to be upfront about the fact that I just want that on Tinder. Now I’m stuck at home again and can’t go back to uni for ages.”

She feels “very isolated”, and is jealous of her friends and housemates who can have partners over whenever they like. “It makes me feel undesirable too. I went on a couple of dates [over lockdown], just that no one liked me enough to go home with me. I really miss being able to live freely and get with who I wanted to with little to no consequences. Life is so unbearably boring now.”

‘I miss human connection’

Grace, 20, echos this. “As students in lockdown, unless you’re back at your uni houses you can’t go on a whim to someone’s house as the parents would surely say something.” She’s considered breaking lockdown for sex as she misses “being intimate with someone and a human connection” – but being at home, she doesn’t want to have to lie to her parents. “My family and I are very close, they definitely would’ve asked where I was going and I can’t lie,” she says.

‘I’ve got my orgasms down to a T now’

Lily, 20, hasn’t had sex since November 2019. She says it “doesn’t feel worth it” to break lockdown and risk getting Covid or a fine. She hasn’t dated during lockdown and it’s difficult to meet people – she usually finds them on a night out, “so not having them makes it much harder. It’s so intense meeting someone and going to your/their place without the initial context of the club or pub.”

There was a time when Lily was close to having sex with someone, but “there were just so many obstacles we were exhausted and over it by the time it was close to happening”. There were issues with getting Covid tests and flatmates worrying about getting fines for mixing, so it didn’t end up happening. She’s been tempted to break lockdown for sex because she usually enjoys it – but one big positive is “I’ve had a year to explore myself exclusively so I’ve got my orgasms down to a T now”.

‘There are zero opportunities to have sex’

Poppy, 26, moved back home to the countryside from London in March 2020 “because it felt too expensive living in the city when it was shut down, so haven’t had sex in a year”. She says: “I’ve found dating at home near impossible – the boys on Hinge are unfortunately people I know from school or jockeys – not my type. When I have dated, my parents ask 101 questions: Where I’m going, what time I’ll be back, did we kiss (urgh!). Obviously there are zero opportunities to have sex.”

Thanks to the pill, Poppy doesn’t have a “huge libido” – what she’s missing far more than sex is intimacy. “Going for drinks after work on a Friday, sharing a ciggie in a pub smoking area, catching their eye, holding their hand under the table, knowing it’s on for the night, having a kiss on the Underground platform, waking up a bit groggy and going to work with a sense of achievement, minimising your hangover because you just had sex. I really, really miss that.”

‘Not being able to sleep with men over lockdown helped me realise I’m gay’

“I’ve only ever had sex with men, but over lockdown I realised I’m gay,” 22-year-old Rosie says. “So I haven’t been able to properly explore that yet.” Rosie thinks the legally enforced break from men was good for her, as it helped her come to terms with her sexuality. She says: “In lockdown I had to stop distracting myself with dating and getting with random men, and without it I don’t think I would have realised who I really was. So in a way I’m grateful for it – but I wish I could date properly right now.”

Rosie hasn’t had sex since the end of 2019, and like Poppy, she’s spent the last year living at home in the countryside, where dating opportunities are slim and she wants to avoid awkward questions from family members. She says: “I could never bring a girl back to my family home, and honestly my parents wouldn’t let me stay at someone else’s right now. My mum’s at additional risk from coronavirus, so we’re all having to be a bit more careful. Which is fine, but I’d find it really hard if I started talking to someone I really liked and couldn’t have sex with them because of that.”

‘This should be the time to gain sexual experience and have fun’

21-year-old Keira hasn’t had sex in almost two years. She puts this down to not being able to find anyone she wants to date, which is only harder over lockdown: “It’s been difficult to find people I’d like to date without being able to actually meet them – always a bit nervous they won’t be anything like they are on text in real life. I prefer to go out and meet people but obviously that hasn’t happened in a VERY long time. It just seems difficult to get to know someone well when you can’t spend time with them in person.”

Not having had sex for this long is “tough”, Keira says. “Being 21 I feel like this is the time to gain sexual experience (and flaunt my body while I’m young), and just a time for fun. I miss being able to talk to my girls about it and hear all of their sex stories too, brilliant or awful. And just the excitement, anticipation and butterflies in your tummy kind of feeling from it all.”

Despite this, Keira hasn’t been tempted to break lockdown for a shag either: “In my head I would have liked to but I’m way too worried about breaking the rules and getting caught.” She says she “ruled out” sex at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. “Nothing has gone further than just having a chat because it gets complicated with Covid restrictions and people having their own take on the rules so it puts you in a bit of an awkward position.”

‘The consequences of having sex could be worse’

Libby, also 21, isn’t “overly desperate for sex, when the consequences could be worse” in the midst of a pandemic. She misses sex though, as well as “the intimacy and the pillow talk. My fingers are good but no comparison to an actual guy.”

With clubs shut it’s hard to meet people to have sex with – even if you were allowed to travel to go and see them. Libby’s been on dating apps during lockdown, but says: “I’m not a huge texter, so it’s difficult to motivate myself on dating apps and usually I would start chatting at a bar or pub, something organic.” She’s spoken to a few people, but not dated anyone during the pandemic.

‘When it’s been so long you forget what it’s like’

Like Keira, 22-year-old Sophie hadn’t had sex for a year – and then lockdown hit. She’s been on two walking dates over lockdown, and says “You can’t meet people naturally any more! Walking dates are alright but it’s hard to be flirty when you’re trying to stay distanced. I would much rather a drink at a bar.”

Sophie wasn’t tempted to break lockdown for the people she went on walking dates with, but says she would if she sound someone she liked. Despite not having sex for two years, she doesn’t feel “too bad” about it, saying “when it’s been so long you kind of forget what it’s like”.

‘The usual places to find hook ups are all closed’

20-year-old Emma has also found it hard to meet people organically, with all nightlife venues shut. “The usual places were you’d meet people to hook up would be clubs and bars, but seeing as clubs have been closed for almost a year and bars are restricted to household bubbles, it’s difficult to find people.”

She hasn’t had sex for about a year and a half now. Emma hasn’t properly dated anyone over lockdown, but has spoken to a few people over social media. This got difficult, though, when it got to the stage where they normally would have shagged. “I would’ve met up with them for dates and probably had sex,” she says.

‘I don’t miss boys, but I miss sex’

Kate, 21, now hasn’t had sex for just over a year – but, as she puts it, “I can’t be going around shagging randos when I’m still seeing some members of my family.” She’s dated through Tinder during lockdown, and is “horny af” so considered breaking lockdown to have sex with them or an old “fuck buddy I know – but he’s living at home”. Kate says: “I miss sex, simple as. Don’t miss boys, they’re annoying but I miss the peen”.

Are you getting any? Take The Tab’s lockdown sex survey here (of course, it’s all 100% anon):

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* Names have been changed