Of all the things I knew would change from putting down alcohol, I never expected SEX to be impacted. It just wasn’t on my list of things to prepare for.
Early in my journey, every book, podcast, and social post around sober sex I would hear:
SOBER SEX IS AMAZING!
SOBER SEX IS THE BEST!
OH MY GOD, THE ORGASMS!!!!!!
And yeah, it was…as soon as I got the lady balls big enough to actually have it, that is.
This once “sexually confident” woman had no problem putting on something that cut off the circulation to my nether region or being called something dirty, all in the name of a sexy time, all of a sudden felt shy, embarrassed, and SCARED.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
Enter: Overthinking, negative self-talk, and attempts to diagnose my “problem.”
Maybe it's a hormonal change?
Is menopause hitting early?
We are in the middle of renovating our house, so it’s normal to be distracted.
What if I don’t like sex anymore?
Should I start dressing up like an animal?
Me: Alexa, why am I not in the mood?
Alexa: What kind of food would you like me to order?
It was time to get out of my head and start finding some answers. I dove head-first into the research to figure out what was going on. And I found it. Turns out it was…
Nothing. Absolutely nothing was wrong with me. And if you are experiencing this, nothing is wrong with you either.
I have been drinking since I was 14 years old. I lost my virginity at 15.
It was a hot summer day. He was a musician. We drank a few beers and smoked a little pot. He played the guitar and sang for me. That was it. I loved him. I laid down on that twin bed with striped sheets and an Alice in Chains poster over the bed with hardly any fear in me at all. It was magical. (Hi George, if you’re reading this).
We always remember our first time, and I would love to tell you that we stayed together for the remainder of our high school days. Turns out he had a girlfriend (with whom I am still best friends) and he left both of us for Tracy.
Don’t worry, I am not giving you every detail. But why is this important? Because this was the beginning of not just my sex life, but my sex with alcohol life.
I can’t really remember being intimate with someone without the veil of alcohol. SINCE I WAS 15! Between 15 and 39 years old, I had associated alcohol with sex, and because of that, many times, sex with self-worth (that’s another story for another day – maybe a couple of days).
No wonder I was having a hard time with sex as a newly sober woman. I HAD NO IDEA HOW TO DO IT.
When we decide to give up drinking, many of us have to relearn things. Relearn how to have fun, relearn how to socialize, relearn to love ourselves.
I didn’t have to relearn sex, I had to LEARN it. I had never experienced a true, authentic connection without booze.
I had to talk with my husband. Turns out, he was feeling very similar to me (he stopped drinking too in support of me). Both of us wanted to express our love in a physical way and we were committed to figuring it out. It took some trial and error, and we are still working on it, but I’ve narrowed it down to four things that were REALLY important for us, and I hope it gives you some insight as well, whether you are married, dating, or even single!
1. KNOW YOURSELF
Whether you are in a committed relationship or single, it is important to know what you like. Not just physically, but your mind and soul too. What gives you that tingly sensation? Know what I mean?
Look at yourself in the mirror. Compliment your body. Take a bubble bath. Light some candles. Read some erotica. Watch a movie (there are plenty of movies that aren’t quite so…graphic). And as a wise woman put it so perfectly in a recent seminar I gave on Sober Sex: "It’s not just about a boyfriend, it's about that toyfriend!" Yes, girl!
Get a toyfriend, not a boyfriend!
A common misnomer is that foreplay is the physical act that happens leading up to sex. Kissing, petting, oral sex. But guess what, that is the SEX! If we think about foreplay through this lens and we are feeling extra vulnerable without the alcohol, then it is just as scary as the P in the V part.
If the purpose of foreplay is to oil the gears, so to speak, we can’t start in the bedroom. Maybe it is the special candlelit dinner you had with someone with that soft jazz in the background. Maybe the two of you discussed some of your favorite things about each other. I love asking my husband to tell me what he thought when he first saw me. He has told me a million times, but it never gets old. It is how I love to be loved, and that is a turn-on. Also, I still love musicians, so if he ever plays an instrument, I am puddy in his hands.
If you ever meet him you should ask him about the first weekend away we spent together and he found a set of drums in the basement ;).
3. BUILDING INTIMACY
Just like with foreplay, intimacy isn’t just in the bedroom. It is that deep connection that gives you a sense of safety and belonging with your partner. The fact that I was drinking for the majority of our relationship meant I had an opportunity to build something even stronger than what we had before. I came up with a list of questions for us to ask each other. I already gave you one (What did you think about me when we first met). But here are a few more.
Tell me about your first kiss.
Tell me about your first love.
If you won 200 million dollars, what is the FIRST thing you would do?
Where would you like to go on vacation with me and why?
When do you think I am at my cutest?
When do you think I am at my sexiest?
What is your favorite sexual experience we had together?
Want to recreate it?
Most of these questions are open-ended. Let them flow with the goal of learning something about your partner you didn't already know. Side note, I highly recommend the Five Love Languages. Understanding how you show love to each other is incredibly valuable.
Ahhh, this is the hard one. This is one that could be almost as scary as the act. But here is the exciting part. Because I associated sex with alcohol for all these years, and I caused a sort of arrested development in my sexual growth as a teenager, I can now, be an adult. A lot of people say sobriety is their superpower. In my mind, it's not the sobriety that is the superpower, it is the courage, strength, conviction, resiliency…I can go on forever…that got us to this alcohol-free life that is the superpower. So now I feel like I can do anything. Including communicate.
I often start convos with my hubby, "I don’t know where I am going with this. I just want to talk it out." Or I say I just need him to listen. I give him instructions on how I need to communicate with him. And I will respect him if he asks the same of me……unless I have a great point that requires an interruption (just kidding... sort of).
My point is, you can have hard conversations. Because you have those superpowers, you can do this. And the more you communicate about challenges, what you like, what you don’t like. The better that sex life will be.
So, turns out, I am not sexually stunted for the remainder of my days. I am taking this as an opportunity to lose my virginity all over again (NO KRIS I AM NOT GOING TO WEAR THAT SCHOOLGIRL OUTFIT...but if you want to buy me something with leather and lace I am down). I am reframing my thoughts from fear to excitement. I am not tolerating things that weren’t pleasurable for me, and I am asking for things that are. Have fun with it. And when it happens, bask in that afterglow.
Many of us who have put down booze love to reflect on the joy we have found. Having a cup of coffee when the sun rises brings me such a sense of peace. Well, dang it, do that after sex too! Because once we get ahold of this psychological stuff, it is true what they say about sober sex:
SOBER SEX IS AMAZING!
SOBER SEX IS THE BEST!
OH MY GOD, THE ORGASMS!!!!!!
Get curious. Be safe. Reflect. But most of all, the most important thing of all…love yourself.
And beware of musicians.