OK, people, let’s get real. Getting naked with another person can be super awkward in the best of times. (Which is, as far as I can tell, why bars exist.) So what might it be like, say, after a year of standing 6 feet away from everyone while hiding half your face? Or, say, after a year of seeing only one person, who is in your personal bubble during every waking second?
Um, pardon the pun, it’s hard.
For single people who are getting back into the game after a year of quarantine, the thought of a new partner can be extremely anxiety-provoking. It can be stressful to imagine how your body looks and feels, especially if it changed during the shut-down. There’s also the ubiquitous fear of performance, along with apprehension about how to please someone new.
Those in long-term relationships aren’t immune to body image or performance anxiety—they have the same fears. Also, couples who have seen a little too much of each other over the last year (“Have you brushed your teeth today?”) might struggle with keeping things new and exciting. And for those who had a little bundle of joy during COVID? The formula is simple: 0 babysitters + 0 sleep = 0 sex.
But before you give up and throw in that proverbial towel (which is probably stiff enough by now to stand on its own anyway), we might be able to help. According to our favorite “sexpert” and self-proclaimed “cannasexual” Ashley Manta, adding CBD to your toolbox can help you get back into the action.
Here’s what she had to say about how to conquer anxiety in the bedroom—or kitchen, shower, living room, basement...You get the picture.
Q: We’ve basically been shut-ins for the last year. Have you seen people experiencing more anxiety around dating and sex?
Manta: Anxiety is a thing a lot of people are experiencing broadly. One thing that’s causing it is all of the changes our bodies have undergone. I’ve found people’s mental health has been massively exacerbated.
Q: Generally speaking, do you think CBD can help?
Manta: I think CBD can help in the way that taking a multivitamin can help your body. But will it fix everything? Absolutely not. I find CBD to be best for low-grade anxiety—if you don’t like the way your body looks, or you don’t like the sex you’re having. But for real capital-A anxiety, CBD is probably not going to be enough for you.
Q: OK now how about specifically how it helps…
Manta: CBD can help with discomfort and anxiety and slowing down and being more present. For sure it can help give you more peaceful peace of mind. It can help with fear that comes up around performance. It can really help people feel soothed. CBD has also shown some promise in reducing inflammation. So if there’s pain with penetration or inflamed tissue or discomfort, it may help calm that down so you can focus on good sensations.
Q: What kind of CBD do you recommend?
Manta: Full-spectrum is the best. Yay, full-spectrum!
Q: What about CBD makes it a better choice before sex than some than other cannabis products, which contain THC?
Manta: Well, it’s not intoxicating. You’re not going to get high, so you don’t have to worry about consent.
Q: Body image has come up frequently in the post-pandemic world because most of us have been holed up in our living rooms, eating Cheetos and drinking beer. But it’s certainly not a new thing. How do we conquer anxiety around how we look?
Manta: We live in a culture that’s designed to make you hate your body and then sell you the solution. I’m a big anti-diet person. I’m a big critic of what Emily Nagoski calls the “bikini industrial complex,” [which encompasses businesses that profit by setting an unachievable aspirational ideal and then selling us ineffective but plausible strategies for achieving that ideal]. We have filters on our phones that make us look totally different. People compare themselves to social media. I think we need to redefine what’s attractive—on our own terms.
Q: You have an amazing way of making this topic feel, OK, not comfortable, but not as awkward as it ordinarily is. Why is talking about sex so challenging?
Manta: People are so afraid to have these conversations. They prefer that their partners be mind readers. That’s just not really how it works.
I think one of the biggest things is a broad cultural and societal shame. There’s a Madonna-whore complex. You’re supposed to be chaste, and if you acknowledge that you’re a human who enjoys sex, then you’re a whore. There’s also a fact that we lack positive role models. We can’t have healthy dialogs about sex. All the rom-com movies are toxic, gas-lighty, and manipulative. We don’t have any positive models for this, so when you become sexually active, it would be as if you’ve never cooked in your life and you’re, like, ‘OK I’m going to make a four-course meal with no instructions.’
Q: Maybe CBD can help encourage more openness?
Manta: I think CBD does help quiet the anxiety. It’s not a panacea, but if it feels like the noise is too loud, it helps turn the volume down a little bit.