sex diaries

The Social Worker Missing Her Active Sex Life

Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher

This week, a woman Zoom-chatting her husband, texting her ex, and getting a long-overdue afternoon hookup: 41, married, Harlem.


5:30 a.m. My cats begin their morning routine of waking me up and demanding food with increasingly obnoxious tactics. I finally get up to feed them. I go back to bed and try to go to sleep. It has been a rough several months — insomnia is a nightly struggle. I figure I can at least get myself off to help me go back to sleep. I do, and wake up again two hours later.

8:00 a.m. I lie in bed scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. My phone rings. It’s my husband, and we FaceTime briefly. He has been in Atlanta for the past year for work; I stayed in the city for grad school. Changing careers at 40 seemed like both a great idea and totally foolish, though the need for more social workers is hopefully becoming more apparent as the national consciousness is raised around over-policing and institutionalized racism.

9:00 a.m. I finally drag myself out of bed and make coffee. I begrudgingly put on my workout clothes and go for a run. I spend the day cleaning my apartment. I do some reading for class and try to catch up. Online classes have required a lot of adjustment for me. I struggle to stay on top of all the work when I don’t have the structure of going into class.

9:00 p.m. Sundays are generally a quiet day for me. Before I get to bed, I text with an ex, and the conversation gets a little steamy. The rules for my poly marriage are that I let my husband know if I plan to see a partner but mostly only if I am going over to their place. He doesn’t want to meet anyone I see or date, but I have met most of the women he sees. We opened our relationship a couple of years into dating and have continued throughout our marriage. I masturbate and fall asleep for about an hour before the nightly insomnia starts.


6:00 a.m. The same routine with the cats every morning. Thankfully, I am able to keep some routine. It has helped with my anxiety, though as the summer approaches, I can feel my depression sneaking up on me. Before the shutdown, I had a healthy sex life; between my husband and other poly partners, I kept myself generally sated. Though the demands of school, working in a bar, and field placement kept me rather busy, I was still able to find time. Since the shutdown, I have generally avoided seeing anyone, only going to the grocery store about once a month. I have started to feel the impact of being totally alone. I am a self-described socially awkward introvert, so generally I have enjoyed being by myself but the lack of physical sensation is starting to take its toll.

11:00 a.m. I do a workout on Instagram, and I head out for a run, though today may be more of a walk/jog. It is hot, and I am finding my motivation lagging. I have gotten a lot more physically fit during quarantine, for whatever that’s worth.

1:00 p.m. Once I get back, I shower and get ready for class. I get a text from a former partner asking for more of the face masks I’ve been making and plan to make more for him later today.

7:00 p.m. I spend the rest of the night sewing.


6:00 a.m. Again with the cats. This morning, the little one climbs into bed next to me to cuddle after his feeding. He is really cute and very cuddly; the other one only cares if there is food involved.

10:00 a.m. I work out and then off for a run.

3:00 p.m. In the middle of the day, I get a really dirty text message from M., the last person I saw before the shutdown. We exchange dirty texts, and I am feeling very frisky. I get myself off and return to working on masks and readings.

10:00 p.m. I try to go to bed early, when my best friend texts. We text back and forth, and before I realize it, it’s already 1:30 a.m. Oh well, I guess I can try to go to bed early another night.


8:00 a.m. This morning it is hard to get out of bed. I know I am going to be on call all night for my volunteer job — I’m on call at an emergency room, working with survivors of sexual assault or intimate-partner violence — so it is really hard to want to get up. But I eventually do, make my coffee and then do my workout and run.

10:00 a.m. I get a text from F., the one person I have decided to see since both of us have avoided people for months. It is always a little awkward between us. I’m not sure if we have a lot in common, but the sexual connection is really great. Though the sex is a little on the vanilla side for my taste, it is still really good and a lot of fun. We are texting about seeing each other tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it — I really need to feel the touch of another human.

6:00 a.m. I sit up all night watching random shows on Netflix trying to ensure that I stay awake. Since the shutdown, I have been working as phone support instead of going to the ER, so I just wait up all night to see if my phone will ring.

6:30 a.m. I fall asleep for a couple hours while the cats demand their food.


8:30 a.m. I get up after only two hours. I have a 9 a.m. Zoom call with my therapist. It is very odd to be doing therapy over Zoom, but it works. I address the creeping depression and my general frustrations.

10:00 a.m. I’m not sure I feel any different, but I head out for my run and complete my daily workout.

1:00 p.m. I clean up a little before F. gets here. He has limited time, which is fine with me — I have the rest of the afternoon to try to take a nap. He comes over, washes up, and bends me over the kitchen counter. He’s so much taller than me that I have to stand on my toes. Then he lifts me up and carries me to the bedroom. It feels so good to have the weight of another human being on top of me; I realize how much I needed to have physical contact. Three months without any physical touch has been really activating my anxiety and depression. We both finish and collapse exhausted.

3:00 p.m. After F. leaves, I just want to lie and bask in the glow, but I need to finish making more masks. I have my daily FaceTime with my husband, and he complains about the challenge of living in a state where people don’t take masks seriously. I feel for him. I don’t think I could ever live there.

9:00 p.m. I finish my evening watching Watchmen, which I’ve been told to watch by E., my friend and former partner, who I haven’t seen since the end of February. He was the first person I ever told I loved. The word is so loaded to me, and I know he has the same experience with it too. It took me a long time to say it, and it was at the end of our sexual relationship as he was getting more serious with another partner who wanted monogamy. But I really want to stay in his life, even just as a friend. I love him and care for him tremendously. I text with E. and tell him I’m finally watching the show. We text for a bit, and I get sucked in before realizing it’s 2 a.m.


7:00 a.m. My daily routine begins. I hope once I finally leave my house again, likely when there’s a vaccine, I’ll look like I could survive in a postapocalyptic world. I’m working really hard to develop any sort of muscle tone, which I don’t think I have had since I was a teenager and dancing every day.

9:00 a.m. I head to the post office to mail the masks out, and I spend the rest of the day planning what I will need from the grocery store for my monthly venture. My little cat is very demanding when he wants cuddles. He jumps in my lap and refuses to move. So I move on to cuddling.

4:00 p.m. It’s hard to feel like there is a difference in the days as we go into the next month. Summers are always rough, but this summer has been really tough as I try to navigate my own feelings and try to feel useful.

7:00 p.m. I make some tea and finish watching Watchmen until 2:30 a.m. Another restless night.


10:00 a.m. My runs are so slow lately because of the heat, and I have little motivation to do more than maybe a mile or two. I make it and shower, then head off to the grocery store. I have to gird myself for the insanity as people are not quite as observant of social distancing.

12:30 p.m. I spend most of the day preparing food for the week. I take a few breaks to exchange some dirty text messages with M., and I FaceTime with my husband a little later. Saturdays tend to be my lazy days. I’m supposed to have a Zoom happy hour with friends a little later, but I’m not really looking forward to it.

8:00 p.m. Thankfully, the Zoom gets canceled and I spend the evening reading. I finally get to bed early, hoping yet again that the insomnia will subside.

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The Social Worker Missing Her Active Sex Life