The lockdown measures offer the perfect opportunity to engage in self-reflection, says relationship and sex therapist Bert Van Puyenbroeck. This is the ideal time to think about what we truly value in our lives, including when it comes to relationships and sex.

Relationship and sex therapist Bert Van Puyenbroeck is a lecturer at the faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, and a researcher at the Mental Health and Wellbeing research group. His research focuses on family relationships, identity and sexuality.

Bert Van Puyenbroeck’s tips

1. Use social media for what it’s meant for: to be social

It’s vital that we physically distance in this moment, but we should maintain ample social contact. So use the many possibilities social media offers to stay connected to your friends, partner and loved ones.

2. Create time for introspection

Turn inward now that we’re not allowed to go outside. Now that are busy and hectic routines have been upended, it’s the ideal time for self-reflection. What is really important to me? What do I want to create more space in my life for when it comes to relationships and sex? Take the time to truly reconnect with yourself, so that you can find each other again later with the self-knowledge you’ve acquired.

3. Break the taboo on masturbation

Masturbation all too often continues to be a taboo among couples. This is the ideal moment to tackle the subject with your partner. Especially now that people who don’t live with their partners aren’t allowed to have sex, masturbation is more or less the only sexual activity that’s still allowed. It’s moreover a great way to relieve stress.

4. Experiment with social media

Why not use WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype to arouse your partner? This can especially be fun for couples who don’t live together. Or, take a virtual bath together; ask three questions about each other’s erotic preferences; write an erotic story together. Know, in any case, that this quarantine will pass and that a time will come when we’ll again be allowed to touch, kiss and sleep with each other. In this way, you’ll both have inspiration when it does.

5. Don’t let yourself be ruled by fear

The danger is real, but don’t let fear be your response to dealing with this situation. Every cloud has a silver lining, and this situation, too, holds opportunities. Try to relax and to explore what is still possible. What creative outlets do you still have? What are the meaningful ways in which you can fill your days? Also, sometimes not doing anything at all, is doing a lot.

How well have you heeded your own advice the past few weeks?

“This is the perfect time to toil in our little garden, to have picnics with the children, but also to regularly relax. Aside from my academic work, I also take photographs and I now regularly make time to shoot in a different way. We’re also preparing a research project around intimacy and photography. Being removed from my comfort zone during these quarantine times has stimulated me to go about a number of things differently and to take time to explore new ideas.”

Relationship and sex therapist Bert Van Puyenbroeck is a lecturer at the faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences.