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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Partnership and closeness „in times of plague” – interview with Dagna Kocur, PhD

10.02.2022 - 13:29 update 02.03.2022 - 13:39
Editors: violettakulik

We have another year ahead of us and another celebration of Valentine’s Day. We talk to Dagna Kocur, PhD, winner of the competition entitled “Freedom of research” under the Research Excellence Initiative.  Research project „Intergenerational transmission of attitudes towards showing feelings in a romantic relationship” concerns the intergenerational transmission of attitudes towards showing feelings in a close relationship..

Violetta Kulik: Doctor, has the pandemic really influenced our lives so much? Living with a partner or husband, we do not feel the effect of lockdown or isolation?

Dagna Kocur, PhD: For some couples, this is the second or third celebration of Valentine’s Day in a pandemic world. The pandemic has affected our functioning, both intrapersonal, related to our inner functioning, and interpersonal, related to the relationships we create. Living with the pandemic is associated with numerous difficulties, ranging from the biggest ones, such as: fear for health or our illness or loved ones, through reduced earnings or job loss, ending with those mundane, but strongly influencing the quality of our life, such as the possibility of meeting friends or attending cultural events. All of this has a significant impact on us, on our romantic relationships.

VK: The beginnings of the pandemic were for many connected with a long lockdown. Was spending free time in the so-called imprisonment heating up the romantic atmosphere, or was it related to negative experiences?

DK: While it might seem that partners who spent little time together on a daily basis due to professional duties will have the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company during the lockdown, quite the opposite was often the case. This is indicated by the statistics of the increase in conflicts in romantic relationships, as well as family conflicts during the pandemic. Research shows that the main factors that triggered quarrels were: stress related to the pandemic, financial problems or simply spending a long time with loved ones, which we were not used to before the pandemic. Especially in couples who experienced conflicts over the COVID-19 pandemic, negative changes in sexual life, such as a reduction in the frequency of sexual activity, caresses and other affection, were observed. Although it may seem that spending more time at home with your partner, often alone, can heat up a romantic atmosphere, it was often the opposite. However, the impact of the pandemic on romantic relationships is not just negative. In studies in which respondents were directly asked about positive changes in this period, there were such answers as the possibility of focusing more on the relationship and appreciating it, or the opportunity to spend a more time together. Thus, being “trapped” at home with a partner was not a negative experience for everyone. The quality of relation before the pandemic was probably important here. If people create partner, satisfying and harmonious relationship, it is easier for them to go through various crises together.

VK: The pandemic and its origins were associated with the transfer of a large part of our lives to the Internet. Has remote enjoyment also gained in popularity?

DK: We could observe panic buying in a pandemic very often, but more often in the news or social media than in real terms in a local shop. Nevertheless, in times of a pandemic, this phenomenon was even spectacular. Soaps, pasta and toilet paper were bought most often, but the panic buying also included toys and erotic gadgets. This is confirmed by data on internet pornography viewing, which increased significantly in the pandemic. The popularity of dating applications and the sale of various types of erotic gadgets has also increased. Researchers look for the reasons for this state of affairs, among others, in the limitations of alternative sources of pleasure or the availability of a sexual partner.

VK: The last two years have somehow changed our sex life, that’s for sure. Valentine’s Day 2022 can be a moment of reflection on how to take care of your sex life and relationship. Are there any ways to improve your sex life?

DK: We should pay attention to how the pandemic or recent years have changed our sex life, how satisfied we are with it, or do we have any unfulfilled dreams or fantasies. Such reflection can be a good introduction to a joint conversation, to open up to what the situation looks like through the eyes of our partner. Such a conversation, with mutual respect, curiosity, mindfulness of the partner and himself, acceptance and the absence of any coercion, can truly develop a relationship. Honesty is also important, both with your partner and with yourself.

VK: What can we do to make Valentine’s evening special?

DK: Perhaps a good idea for a romantic evening will be such a conversation, which will become an introduction to spending time in a romantic way. If we are convinced by such a scenario, it is worth remembering that topics that have never been or have not been discussed for a long time may cause some tension, at least in one of the interlocutors. So, based on the knowledge of yourself and your partner, it is worth assessing what effect such a conversation can have and take it into account when deciding whether it is a good idea to start Valentine’s evening this way.

Another scenario for this evening might be to take care of the sensual aspect of the experience. On a daily basis, regardless of a pandemic, we tend to act in a hurry, schematically, and with little mindfulness – this also applies to sex. Our sex life can especially benefit from minor changes, such as starting with a different foreplay than usual (bath, massage), preparing a more atmospheric interior or diversifying with erotic gadgets (in this case, make sure in advance that your partner also finds it attractive). In this variant of spending Valentine’s Day together, you can temporarily abandon the intellectual aspect, replacing it with focus on sensory experiences, remembering, however, to make sure that the specific activity and stimulation is acceptable and pleasant for the partner.

There are many ways to improve your sex life; however, there is no one universal method that would satisfy everyone. It is important to take care of this sphere of our life, devoting time and attention to it, not only on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to this approach, we have a much better chance of a satisfying sex life than when we leave this sphere to itself, and relegate it to the second or third plan, with the assumption that “it will be somehow” – history shows that it probably won’t be.

VK: Thank you very much for the interview.


More information can be found onhttps://journals.viamedica.pl/seksuologia_polska/article/view/1-12/34807


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