When it comes to alcohol and sex, their relationship status is best described as: “It’s complicated”. In moderation, alcohol can help to calm pre-sex jitters or give you the courage to have a tough sex talk with a partner. Consumed in excess though, alcohol gets people into trouble when boundaries become blurred through beer goggles. Sexual decisions we make while intoxicated may not reflect what we would have done sober. On the other hand, some people feel that “I was drunk” is a valid excuse for poor behavior or even violence and sexual assault.
It’s time to take a hard look at the complicated relationship between alcohol and sex and get real about how we want them to be linked (or not) in our own lives.
Here are some common assumptions about this tempestuous duo and ways to avoid getting tangled up in their drama.
Assumption #1: Dating Revolves Around Alcohol
A common first date scenario involves meeting for happy hour drinks or having a non-committal cocktail so that each person can decide whether they want to spend more time with the other. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t have to be the norm if it doesn’t feel right to you.
In fact, if you are trying to determine if someone is a good match for you (purely sexually or more), it might be best to have that first meeting sober. Coffee/tea dates are cute and offer you the same amount of time and space to get to know someone without getting tipsy.
Assumption #2: Sober Sex is Scary & Drunk Sex is Better
If you’re like a lot of people out there, you may have to think long and hard about when the last time you had sober sex was. That’s because it’s super common to use alcohol as a social lubricant and a way to get into the mood to have sex. The expectation that you have to drink before having sex can be heard echoed in tons of radio hits (“I been drinkin’, I been drinkin’”), so no wonder we think drunk sex must be better than sober sex.
The truth is: drunk sex can be great and it can be awful. Sober sex can be mind-blowing or super weird and awkward. They both have their benefits and drawbacks.
The most important thing to think about is: are you avoiding having sex sober and if so, why? It can be illuminating to think about your own relationship to alcohol because it’s different for everyone.
Assumption #3: Alcohol Helps with Sexual Anxiety
Alcohol can sometimes foster a sense of openness and playfulness, reducing sexual anxiety. But overconsumption can actually have a dampening effect on mood. It’s a depressant and people react differently to it depending on their disposition. While drinking can break the ice and provide “liquid courage”, alcohol can also negatively impact our arousal responses like our ability to lubricate or experience an erection.
Give some thought to how you want alcohol to impact your sex life, or how it already has impacted it (positively or negatively). Also, remember that everyone is different. Your limit might not be the same as someone else’s. If you do drink on dates, there’s no reason why you have to keep up with every round your date orders or even drink at all.
The relationship between sex and alcohol is complicated, but not impossible to work through. If you feel that you may have a problem with drinking, take a look at these assessment questions and seek help if you need it. Sex coaching can also help you identify ways to untangle sex and alcohol if you think it’s a problem in your dating life.
Drunk or sober, always remember to wrap it up! Shop condoms.
Written by Myisha Battle