Intimacy Without Intoxication: Is Sober Sex Better?
The sun is streaming through the curtains of a room that you have never seen before. You squint and rub your bloodshot eyes, as your hand reaches out to feel the prone body of the snoring person who a few hours earlier was a stranger. You notice your own naked body and wonder how the two of you spent the interceding time. You look at the floor next to the bed and see your clothes, strewn across the carpet, wine bottles and glasses, a few joints, and a line of cocaine on the dresser across the room.
You slide out of bed, gather your belongings, hightail it to the bathroom and quickly get yourself street ready. Wondering how you will explain your lateness for work this time, you swear you will never allow this to happen again. That resolve lasts until the next weekend, where you are once again at the familiar bar where you and your friends hang out. You insist that they keep you from leaving with someone other than one of them and they promise, but once you are a few drinks deep, your resolve goes out the window and you find yourself on the arm of a person with whom you have been flirting and dancing, your inhibitions washed away on the wave of alcohol that is now coursing through you.
Alcohol is the most frequently used mood-altering and mind-numbing substance in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that over half of all American adults were current drinkers of alcohol at the time of their 2015 national survey. When enjoyed in moderation, it can be a social lubricant, a shared activity, a way of celebrating life events. When indulged in excess, used habitually, or abused, it can establish and continue a pattern of behavior that can cause serious damage and wreak havoc on your life.
It is also the most oft imbibed date rape drug, according to various police reports and experts who specialize in sexual assault cases. It far surpasses Rohypnol, (a.k.a. ‘roofies’) that is sometimes used to spike an unguarded drink.
The downside of sexual activity when impaired
- Risky sexual behavior
- Increased risk of STDs
- Increased chance of pregnancy
- Lack of ability to consent to sexual activity
- Greater likelihood of physical or sexual assault
- Use of additional substances beyond what was ingested at the onset
- Being abandoned in an unfamiliar place
- Getting robbed
- Loss of memory of what occurred/blackouts
According to a woman I spoke to who was willing to she here experience here, sex while impaired in committed relationships was “missing something. The only time I could feel comfortable in my own skin was after a few drinks. That meant, I couldn’t even get in bed with my husband unless I had a few… and then a few turned into a few too many.”
When she considered where that pattern began, she remembered her first traumatic sexual encounter in her teens when in the basement of a boy’s home, they were mixing drinks and she passed out and the next thing she knew, her pants were around her ankles and he was nowhere in sight. Over the years, she repressed the memory and it came to her awareness in a couple’s counseling session they had to repair the rift that was caused by her drinking.
When she made a courageous decision to get into recovery, she had to face the frightening prospect of being with her husband without a substance between them. Awkward initially, she admitted that she felt like she was a teenager again and in many ways, a virgin, since she had not known what it was like to be fully present in any sexual encounter.