As the pandemic drags on, you’re likely finding that you have more free time than you know what to do with. To keep the boredom at bay, some students are experimenting with sourdough starter, binge watching The Great British Baking Show, or even adopting a pet. But if you’re still looking to fill the void (or something else) more wisely, we have another suggestion: sex!

Whether you’re reconsidering your purity pledge or already a freak in the sheets, NBN’s tips, tricks and advice — with the help of sex therapist Courtney Geter — will put the “cute” back into “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2.”

Before we get flirty, remember that the most important part of getting it on is consent – both given and received. Consent is given by free will and can be revoked at any time. It’s also an essential part of any intimate relationship. Just remember that if someone hasn’t said yes, it’s a no, and if you haven’t asked, don’t assume!

illustration of a dildo

Getting comfortable with yourself

Masturbation: It’s natural, it’s fun, it can also be crazy awkward. But Geter says don’t be shy. For beginners, Geter says to create a safe space — “something that’s comfortable where there’s no distractions like people, phones or pets.” She also recommends you begin with different areas of your body and work your way up to (or perhaps down to) the genitals and other sexual areas.

Set the mood. Getting your mind in the right place is key. Turn the lights down low, light a candle or two and start exploring. You can finally get some use out of that $300 Bath & Body Works candle you got in middle school. If you need some sensual music recommendations, try on Spotify.

Take your time.Your body is specific to you, so take some time to get to know yourself. Explore the area and come to understand what parts really get your engines going. Who knows: you might even discover a new kink (or a new birthmark).

Don’t shy away from videos and toys. While the pornscape is a never-ending abyss of what’s wrong with the world, it exists for a reason: to help pleasure you. Just go to incognito mode and search some videos that will get you going. And, of course, don’t forget to find one that will last as long as you will.

Make like Ari and switch up those positions (or hands). If lying on your back isn’t working, or you’re just bored of the same old same old, try something new! Sometimes people need to be on their side or propped up to hit the (g–) spot –– no shame in some acrobatics. Additionally, each hand can cause different sensations that can lead to a more pleasurable experience.

Advice No One Asked For: Sit on your hand until it’s numb to make it feel like someone else is doing it for you.

illustration of a butt plug

Getting Sexy Thru The Phone

Ah, phone sex: the modern love letter. It’s like your Zoom chemistry class, except while both will leave you exhausted and drained, phone sex will leave you stimulated with no D in sight. This option is great if you’re in a long-distance relationship and in desperate need of some “rest and relaxation,” or if you’re quarantining with a partner and can't stand the sight of their stupid-ass face anymore.

Trust is key. Geter says communication needs to begin early — especially if you’re new to the phone sex game. “You can’t control everything, so knowing that you have a lot of trust in the person you’re doing this with [is important].” She suggests having an initial conversation to talk about each of your “needs and wants and fantasies,” as well as your boundaries — and what to do when a Georgia Senate phone banker is on the other line.

Know the language. People are turned on by different things: Some like being called daddy; others like talking dirty in the voice of Gilbert Gottfried. Find out what words or phrases make you both feel turned on and connected. The last thing you want on the other end is someone whispering sweet nothings when all you want to hear is how they’re gonna throw you against a wall.

Play games! Geter suggests playing games like strip poker or virtual sexy Jenga to add some structure. (You can even bring in role play: There is one naked impostor Among Us?) If that resurfaces beef from your last Monopoly night, buy sex toys that either partner can control from their phone. You’ll be able to give and receive pleasure from anywhere and any time (like while you catch up on eight weeks’ worth of that asynchronous class you forgot you were taking).

Advice No One Asked For: If setting the mood and scene isn’t your thing, don’t be afraid to stroll around while on the phone. You finally have the chance to have sex on every surface in your apartment!

Getting Intimate With A Picture

Nudes can be works of art — but for someone who hasn’t taken one before, the idea can be daunting. Or maybe you have taken some, but they never felt perfect. Conveniently, you now have the time to perfect them!

What makes a good photo makes a good nude. That means lighting, location and angles! Find out what background works best for you and where your partner likes to see you (like in front of the Cheesecake Factory, holding a basket of their brown bread — now that’s hot). Use those photography skills to your advantage: golden hour, rule of thirds, it all applies. And don’t forget that good lighting can make or break your nude — neither party should have to squint.

Practice self-love. A good nude is only as good as the vibe from your end. Forget about that crush who’s been “taking a shower” for the past five years. If you see yourself as sexy, hot and amazing, the camera (and recipient) will too.

Be spontaneous. Like elected officials, sometimes the best nudes come from out of the blue. The consenting recipient is taken pleasantly off-guard, and you get the satisfaction of surprising them. Plus, those impromptu pics require some discretion and sneakiness: Whether it’s a slip away to the bathroom or a quick pop into your room, it’ll add some spice to your day. Who doesn’t love a little risk? (More manageable than the risk of disease transmission, at least.)

Advice No One Asked For: If the nude isn’t turning out the way you thought, just turn it into a TikTok dance:“Now that we’re done with that, you guys wanna see my Renegade?”