This winter, the Kinsey Institute partnered with Hearst magazines Cosmopolitan and Esquire to investigate how Americans are coping with the pandemic in their sex lives, and what they think post-pandemic sex will look like.
The survey, designed by the Kinsey Institute’s Dr. Amanda Gesselman, asked a national demographically-representative sample of 2000 Americans a variety of questions about the impact of COVID-19 on their relationships and sexual activity.
Despite predictions from pundits and in popular culture at the start of the pandemic about a rise in divorce and break-ups due to lockdown, over half of study participants who experienced the pandemic as part of a couple feel their relationship has improved. In fact, many participants report having more sex during the pandemic (43% of straight men and 31% of straight women), and 30% of women say they were having better sex than before. The number of participants reporting a desire to end their relationship or leave their partner is low – 8% say they had considered it but have decided against it, and only 7% of people who fantasized about leaving their partner actually intends to do it. Only 23% of men and 14% of women report they would have been happier being single during the pandemic.
Study results also point to several trends among respondents: an increased interest in commitment, an increased consideration of health factors when approaching dating and sexual activity, and a willingness for sexual experimentation.
- More than half of respondents are not interested in one-night stands
- 68% of respondents say they’re less likely to cheat
- 64% are less interested in having more than one partner at a time
- 44% feel commitment itself is more important than before
- 52% of singles say a committed relationship is what they want next
- 33% want to wait longer before meeting someone in person
- 37% want to wait longer before having sex
Health and dating:
- 53% of Gen Zers and millennials say they are more likely to cancel a date if they don’t feel well
- 42% of respondents say they are more likely to ask potential partners about their physical health before consenting to sex
- Respondents report being more aware of their health generally, and 51% report they are more likely to use a condom
- 19% of the respondents say they are more inclined to pursue an open relationship in the future
- 46% say they’re engaging in more sexual experimentation
- 1/3 of women reported sexting during the pandemic, and majority intend to continue.
- Of people who added video chatting to their repertoire, 70% intend to keep doing it before committing to a date
As we emerge in the near future from pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, researchers say it looks like post-pandemic sex will be about taking our time seeking out new relationships and partners, and demanding more and better in the relationships we have.
You can read about the study at:
“Inside the Post-Pandemic Bedroom” in Esquire
Or listen to Sex and Psychology Podcast with Dr. Justin Lehmiller, featuring and interview with Dr. Amanda Gesselman, Associate Director for Research at The Kinsey Institute, and Jessica Pels Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan.
You can find more information about all our COVID-19 research on our website at https://kinseyinstitute.org/research/covid-19.php