While the UK faces the threat of a ‘third wave’, kissing is still reserved for those who live together. So is a day (International Kissing Day) celebrating this most affectionate of daily gestures around the world, appropriate right now?
Therapists at Tavistock Relationships, the internationally renowned couple therapy charity, believe it is. Marian O’Conner, couple and psychosexual therapist at Tavistock Relationships, explains: ‘Although this simple expression of affection may remain off-limits for many, kissing is a good place to start when you’re rebuilding intimacy, a challenge for many couples post-pandemic.
‘For many couples lockdown has shut down their libido. Seeing your partner at breakfast, lunch and dinner, hearing them shout at the dog, or watching them disappear for another Zoom call just as your kids spill milk all over the kitchen table, has increased stress and irritability and dampened desire. A kiss – whether it’s a simple peck of a full-on smooch – will show you care.’
Any sort of sexual difficulty can damage the whole spectrum of intimacy, from holding hands to sex itself, with the ‘bit in the middle’ – hugs, kisses and closeness – starting to reduce. Very few couples are happy when this kind of undercurrent takes hold and on the whole, the quality of a couple’s sex life relates to the quality of the relationship, and vice-versa.
Tavistock Relationships has been offering relationship and sex therapy online throughout the pandemic and has seen a big increase in demand from couples seeking support with intimacy issues.
Is sex therapy the answer?
The challenge for couples considering therapy is that sex is a very emotive subject, issues like embarrassment and shame can make it hard to talk about. Other topics like money and views on parenting are also emotive but these can be easier to discuss.
In sex therapy, therapists work with couples to find ways for them to get back to each other. They look at what the blocks and stops are that are making people behave badly, or turn away from each other. Sex therapy is about finding out with the couple what has happened, and why their relationship has broken down.
Marian adds: ‘People in long term relationships don’t tend to talk openly about their sex life with their friends, or even with one another, but they do discuss sex with therapists. These issues are very private and there can be a lot of secrecy and shame when things go wrong.
‘It is a very brave and bold step to choose to come to psychosexual therapy, and it can take a long time to make this commitment, but the good news is that the success rate is very high. When issues are resolved, the joy of intimacy returning can boost the relationship.’
Therapists at Tavistock Relationships work with both couples and individuals, gay and straight.