IU junior Anna Ahmed was single at the onset of the pandemic. During announcements of closures, cancellations and an array of new precautionary measures, her romantic intimacy seemed a secondary concern.
As the months of quarantine dragged on, Ahmed said she felt she was missing something.
“I think you just get into junior year and everyone’s getting to that point where relationships just make sense,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed is not alone in feeling the strain of the pandemic on intimacy and relationships. A Kinsey Institute study looking at the pandemic’s effect on marital quality found 24% of respondents reported having less frequent sex with their spouces. Additionally, 63% said the pandemic was stressing their family and 54% said it was testing their marriage.
As the pandemic left many feeling socially isolated, people began to seek out adult shops. Bloomington adult entertainment businesses such as Lovers Playground experienced an increase in customers after the pandemic began.
Lovers Playground store manager Michelle Miller said she noticed more customers coming in after the store reopened in May.
“It was slow at first and then it really picked up,” Miller said. “We thought it would be slow with all of the students gone, but the townies really helped us out and really stepped up.”
The influx of customers at the start of the pandemic could be attributed to quarantine boredom, since locals found themselves spending more time at home, Miller said.
“I think that since people were kinda stuck at home, they get a little stir crazy,” Miller said. “You get a little bored and you realize maybe the spark isn't there anymore, so you need to kinda freshen it back up, and that’s where we come into play.”
Compared to restaurants, Miller said shops not specializing in food consumption may have had an advantage when it comes to adapting to COVID-19 safety measures because masks were more easily enforceable.
“I think that for the restaurants it was really hard, they didn't really have a choice, they had to stay shut down,” Miller said. “You can't really wear a mask and protect anyone while you're eating in public, whereas in here we are very strict with our policy.”
Major retailers also saw an increase in sales. Adam and Eve, an adult entertainment company, saw a 30% increase in online sales in the months after the start of the pandemic, according to a June article from the New York Times. Cotr Inc., a company that owns various female sex toy brands, also experienced sales that were three times as high as those of the previous year, according to an VICE article in April 2020.
Night Moves, a local adult entertainment club, depends more heavily on the physical presence of customers and faced some difficulties at the start of the pandemic due to new safety restrictions, according to manager Matt Mounce.
“It was an adjustment,” manager Matt Mounce said. “There were precautions that had to be taken that made this particular type of business difficult to operate.”
Mounce said there was little change in Night Move’s clientele.
“The people who came in before are still the same people who come in now,” Mounce said. “You know obviously we can't be at the same capacity we once were but there’s still a demand.”