March 27, 2020 at 4:43 pm EDT | by John Paul King
Dating app #open offers free virtual sex-ed class to help ease the ‘self-isolation’ blues
The dating app #open will host “Iso-dating 101” on March 28 (Image courtesy #open)

While self-isolation and staying “safer at home” are undoubtedly the right thing to do for the overall health and well-being of ourselves and the larger community, they aren’t necessarily great for our sex lives.

With efforts to “flatten the curve” on the spread of COVID-19 already stretching out into weeks, many single and non-monogamous people – or even monogamous couples, if separated by circumstance during the quarantine – are sure to be feeling the call of their libido. Rather than giving into the potentially catastrophic temptation of risking an in-person meet-up, many of those with the urge to get their groove on are turning to the many options for remote connection available to us in the age of smart phones and video conferencing.

While the virtual approach to shared sexual experience may be familiar enough for many of us, there are also many for whom it is a challenging journey into unexplored territory – and in terms of finding a meaningful connection that goes deeper than an impersonal and anonymous hook-up. Rather than letting that be an obstacle to participation in a little sexual self-care, why not get a few tips from an expert so you can be ready to dive in with confidence?

To that end, #open, a dating app for women and other marginalized groups including people seeking open or polyamorous relationships, has partnered with sex and relationship educator Sarah Sloane to offer a virtual video sex education workshop on dating in isolation (or iso-dating), which is happening on Saturday, March 28.

Sloane, according to her website, wears “a number of different hats” in both her personal and professional lives. An educator with twenty years of experience teaching thousands of people throughout the US, Canada, and overseas, she’s also written “hundreds of articles, essays, advice columns, book chapters, and blog posts on topics ranging from sexuality and pleasure to mental wellness, personal growth, aging, and trauma recovery.”

Her writings have been featured in magazines such as the adult industry retail magazine StorErotica, as well as online in places like PopSugar, and in books like Tristan Taormino’s “Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play, and the Erotic Edge” and Lee Harrington’s book, “Rope, Bondage and Power.” In addition, she was Ms. Illinois Leather Pride 2016, was nominated for the Pantheon of Leather’sWoman of the Year award for 2009, was first runner-up for International Ms. Leather 2009, and was a past nominee for the Vaughan Keith National Educator award from Black Rose.

As for #open, the relative newcomer among the array of dating apps was launched by co-founders Amanda Wilson and David Epstein, who themselves met on a dating app in 2015 and decided to build one of their own a year later. In the words of Epstein, “it’s an app that’s been built for people with a fairly open mindset, when it comes to human sexuality.”

The fledgling app has already been proactive during the current coronavirus crisis, advising its users to look to the virtual sphere for a healthier alternative for sexual exploration and encouraging them to use the opportunity to work on other aspects of dating, such as their communication skills. Now, they’re going a step further by presenting Sloane’s online workshop to help us get the most out of the experience.

“The spread of COVID-19 has been hard on our community at large. Sex-positive outlets have been disporpotionately affected by this pandemic and for many it feels as though the community we have all worked so hard to pull together has been pushed apart,” says app co-founder Wilson. “More now than ever we need connection and commonality, which is why we’ve joined forces with Sex Educator Sarah Sloane to bring you a virtual dating workshop that is open to all!”

She added, “This Saturday evening’s class ‘Iso-dating 101 (with Q&A)’ has all of your favorite sex-ed workshop components without any work (getting out of bed is not required)! Whether you’re new to online dating or you’re trying to figure out the best way to frame your needs and expectations when in-person meetups are out of the question, this free educational ‘social gathering’ is for you.”

You can attend the virtual workshop on Saturday, March 28, at 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT, at hashtagopen.com/live.

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