With the most recent stats showing a surge in new coronavirus cases as recently as yesterday, it's more important than ever for people to wear a mask in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, of course, after a period of several quiet months of quarantine, there are going to be more hookups now than the previous few quiet months (we all basically agreed to take a tacit vow of abstinence these past few months for the collective health of other people, right?). And if you're not already wearing a mask, here's your daily reminder that they work, and that you should absolutely be wearing one—if not for yourself, for the health of others around you.
For most responsible people, this means future casual hookups will include wearing a face mask during the act. The New York City health department has even included mask wearing during sex to their list of safer sex precautions during the pandemic.
Think of it like the ultimate public health condom. Unless you're in a serious, committed, monogamous relationship with someone you've been quarantining exclusively with for the past few months, it's better to be safe than sorry. But unlike STIs, coronavirus has no cure and it's way easier to transmit to people unknowingly. Although the research is still unclear on whether or not COVID-19 can be spread through bodily fluids like semen, doctors do still say that the risk of infection is mainly via respiratory droplets, so please, mask TF up.
If you're wondering what it's actually like to have sex with a face mask on (like, hi, how does that conversation go down? Does it make sex different?)—below are five people who get very real about how masking up changes hookups:
- "I hooked up with this girl I'd been talking to before quarantine and had been talking to for the past two months. We had previously gone on some social distancing walks, but wanted to take things to the next level. We hadn't discussed the masks beforehand, but once we arrived at my place, I took my mask off and noticed she was hesitant about removing hers, so we realized it was for the best to leave the masks on. It was strange because we couldn’t really engage in foreplay, as it involves the mouth. It felt weird and a little primal, even, because without taking masks off for foreplay, we had to just jump into the part where we were both completely naked except for our masks. Imagine having sex with someone who has their socks on but on their face. We couldn't perform oral on each other, so we had to get creative with foreplay. We obviously used a condom—imagine wearing masks but no condom. We also incorporated doggy style a lot, as I figured we wouldn't breathe on each other's faces quite as much that way."—Sriki*, 29
- "My girlfriend recently came from abroad so she finished her 14 days of quarantine alone and we waited until the 15th day to be extra safe. We both agreed to wear masks—she kept hers on the whole time, but we'd find it difficult to perform oral or breathe when things got intense so I'd take breaks and take it off for moments just to catch my breath. Whenever one of us took it off, we'd put it back on later, to be extra safe. Experience-wise, it was funny, awkward, and weird at the same time, but worth it as a precautionary measure, given there's no cure. Go slow and you'll be fine. It's not tough, but it's a whole new experience. I'll also say that if people think they need to take extra precautions because of a high risk of transmission, it's probably better to avoid being intimate altogether with your partner than to wear a mask. It's a bit weird at first, but we have to come up with unusual ideas in unprecedented times. It's also better to discuss the whole mask thing beforehand, because like anything with sex, it's best not to spring things on your partner in the moment (or right before)." —Kris, 26
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- "In mid-May, I matched with this guy on Tinder who was also quarantining alone and we talked about meeting up and having a mutual masturbation session in our cars. It quickly became apparent that not touching each other was going to be very difficult, as there were a lot of sexual chemistry and my own pent-up sexual frustration. We drove to his house in our separate cars, both kept our masks on, and went into his garage where he laid a tarp and blanket down on the floor. I got on all fours and he penetrated me from behind, in doggy style, to minimize breathing in each other's faces. We kept the masks on the whole time, which felt weird but also slightly comforting because it was way easier to forget about kissing when our mouths were covered. It was an interesting adventure because it felt slightly taboo, oddly refreshing, creative, and interesting. If you're considering mask sex, remember that all the same rules of safe, consensual sex apply here: Both people need to be on board from the beginning, understand boundaries, and communicate well."—Rachel*, 30
- "I chose to use a mask when I met a sugar baby for the first time, since I've been super careful about doing all the recommended COVID-19 precautions. She also wore a mask and was glad when I asked her to before we met. When we were texting beforehand, I had asked upfront if she would mind if we both wore masks, and she was immediately agreeable. We didn't kiss and kept them on at all times, except when we were giving each other oral (the person giving oral would take their mask off, but the receiver would keep theirs on). The lack of kissing definitely diminished the intimacy aspect, but I think the masks also added some allure, like an Eyes Wide Shut kind of thing."—Carlos*, 45
- "I've been having sex with my partner while we both wore masks, because he works as an essential worker as a firefighter. He had extensive precautions at work, but I am immune compromised and we both didn’t want to risk it. Wearing a mask definitely took away some intimacy, so once he began testing regularly for the virus in our state, we decided to not wear them. If you are considering mask sex, make sure to be open with your partner about it. Lay out your reasoning, especially if it is with someone who may come into contact with COVID-19."—Allison*, 22
Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
*Names have been changed.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.