Get Real! How Do You Have Good Sex Sober?

Mia asks:

not a virgin but I have only had sex being drunk and have never had sex
sober. How do you have good sex sober? How do you be on top and be
comfortable with what your doing. And know what you’re doing, right?

Heather replies:

what? While alcohol can reduce a person’s inhibitions, another thing it
often does reduce how aroused — how turned on — a person can get. It
also tends to inhibit orgasm, as well as female lubrication. And that’s
just the minor stuff. Date rape is far more common when alcohol is
involved, and STI rates are higher when it’s in the picture, too.

If you’ve had the idea that booze is the secret ingredient for great
sex, you’ve probably been pretty seriously mistaken. If you’ve only had
sex drunk, chances are good you haven’t even HAD great sex yet, since
alcohol can stand in the way of so much of what makes sex great,
physically, intellectually and emotionally. So, if you’re changing
things up for the better and coming to sex sober, it’s pretty likely
you’ve got some good surprises in store for you!

Sex sober is not only likely to be better for you in terms of the
whole experience, lord knows the less often you get wasted, the better
off your physical and mental health will be.

No one has to "know what they’re doing" to have great sex. In fact,
some of what can make it so exciting is NOT knowing that: is the
exploration and adventure sex is. Sex with another person is supposed
to be about you two exploring one another, making the discoveries of
what feels great. It’s not a job, nor should it feel like you have to
put on any kind of performance. Sex with someone isn’t about putting on
a good show or impressing them. It’s about pleasure and joy and
personal expression.

As well, sex is NOT just intercourse, which is really important for
women to remember since (we say this a lot, but we also seem to have to
remind people of this a lot) the majority of women will not orgasm from
intercourse alone, and many don’t even find it all that interesting or
exciting. Generally, we only know what we’re doing with a partner when
we’re communicating clearly with each other — tough to do when you’re
slurring — and when, over time, we get to know each other and what
works together. No one can know what they’re doing right off the bat
with any new partner unless they’re a psychic.

If you DO enjoy vaginal intercourse, what position you have it in is
up to you and your partners. If you don’t feel comfortable being on top
or don’t like it, it’s certainly not a requirement. If you do want to
do that position, but feel like there’s pressure, or feel
self-conscious (which may be some of what you were trying to hide or
excuse by being drunk), maybe you need to be sure you’re only having
sex with a partner at a pace that works for you, and with partners who
you are okay being yourself in front of. I know that so often the media
shows sex as super-duper-sexy, but a lot of the time, you know, parts
of it are about any of us making asses of ourselves in front of our
partner. When our partner likes and cares for us, and vice-versa, and
is willing to be just as vulnerable, that shouldn’t be some huge deal.
If anything, those awkward moments will tend to bring us closer and
make for great private jokes. :)

Maybe you’re rushing into sex with partners too fast? If you’ve only
had sex drunk, that’d be unsurprising, since another effect of alcohol
is that it tends to increase risk-taking, and cloud people’s judgment.
Ideally, you want to be having sex with someone only when you do feel
comfortable with it, them and yourself. If that’s not something you
feel immediately — and it’s pretty rare to feel all that right off the
bat — then you want to wait, take your time, and spend time with that
person without sex, only adding sex to the equation when you DO feel
more comfortable, feel okay being you with them, and know that with the
right partner, it’s okay to have times when we feel silly, awkward or
like we don’t know what we’re doing. I’d also think about if you really
are ready for sex right now, and if it’s right for you. What feels
right when we’re drunk often only does BECAUSE we’re drunk. If you feel
uncomfortable with the idea of sex sober, it may just be because sex
isn’t right for you just yet, or you don’t have a partner yet who is
the right person for you to be sleeping with.

And when it comes to choosing partners where that feels better? I
don’t know what your social circle is like, but if it’s generally a
drunken bunch, it might behoove you to expand that circle and get some
friends and potential partners in it who are sober, okay?

Here are a few links to help you figure more of this out:

Lastly, if you’ve been having sex drunk a lot, chances are you
haven’t been making the best choices ever, and you may also have been
at some extra risks you probably weren’t even aware of. Do be sure
you’re up-to-date with your yearly screenings for sexually transmitted
infections. While we’re on the subject of your health — physical and
mental — I also want to encourage you to look at the why of you’re
drinking, particularly before it becomes a real problem for you. A lot
of people drinks trying to self-medicate for things like social anxiety
or depression, and it’s really not a good treatment for…well,
anything. Using booze as medicine or social lubricant doesn’t solve
problems, it just makes one more of them for you, particularly as time
goes by. Suffice it to say, if you’re underage, you’re also looking at
possible legal problems.

If you need some help when it comes to dealing with alcohol, you can
talk to your doctor about it, or a school nurse or counselor. You might
also just want to file away some information on teen alcoholism and
help with that just in case, and the best place for that is Ala-Teen.
If you suspect drinking is a problem for you you don’t think you can
easily kick, I’d encourage you to be proactive and take an aggressive
approach now, both for your sex life and your whole life.

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  • invalid-0

    I find that the closer are with your partner the better the experience is.

  • invalid-0

    It sounds to me that the person has inhibitions about having sex, including to “be on top,” and might require alcohol to have such inhibitions decreased.

    The “top” part is a flag for me, particularly because she is a woman, and might have been taught somehow this is not a “proper” way of doing things, or is too dominant. Apparently, also, “on the bottom” suggests the partner will lead. How could she be “on top,” after all, since she is unclear on what to do.

    Thus, I think talking about education and being comfortable with your partner (and yourself) makes sense here. I’m not sure if it is a matter of abusing alcohol in some fashion. I didn’t get that from the question.

    • heather-corinna

      My perception was that since she came to ask about it, it sounded like she clearly felt it was a pattern of her behavior.  And if she is worried she can’t have good sex sober, it also sounds a bit like she may be drinking — in part — in order to feel comfortable having sex, which does fall under abusing it for me.  But by all means, your interpretation could have been the case, as well.

      I agree with your second paragraph, save that I think it’s very important for a LOAD of reasons that young women understand they do not HAVE to know what to do to try something, and that too, the expectation male partners DO know is often not a realistic or fair one (especially since it also then puts all the risk-taking, and possible-making-an-arse-of-oneself on guys).

  • invalid-0

    I have been sober since I was 16 years old (I am 38 now) and let me tell you that negotiating sexual activity sober is just hard. You can give all the advice in the world but when it comes down to you and the other person in a sexual situation it can just feel awkward at times. Many of my peers when I was younger (and now) used alcohol to “loosen” up to have sex. So that is not unusual behavior. Telling young people that they are supposed to feel confident or comfortable or have some kind of communication skills that will make sexual moments feel less bizarre and unsexy – especially if your partner is new or if you are new to sex – is just setting them up for more frustration and confusion.
    I believe having sexual experiences sober is ideal but it is also very strange and awkward-no doubt. AND totally worth it.
    Sex can be unpredictable. Weird, boring, a let down, exciting, mind blowing, no matter what position you are in! Eventually you get more comfortable, know what you like and learn to move at a pace you are comfortable with. We never learn that stuff if we check out to have sex.

  • invalid-0

    Does Mia really think she will only have non-sober sex for the rest of her life? This makes me think she doesn’t even have a good reason for having sex. I’m all for sex, but if your sex life only exists to “fit in” or because it’s the “thing to do”, I’m thinking you may want to spend time thinking about what you’re actually doing.

  • heather-corinna

    I just want to add to this that communicating and negotiating all of this is not always just hard.  It very much depends on the person, the situation, the setting, and also with what skills a person came to sex WITH.


    I’ve often seen older women (I’m the same age as you are) presume that young women now came of age the same way we did, with the same tools or lack of tools in this department, when sometimes, that’s very far from the truth. Too, when young people come to Scarleteen, we have a ton of ways for them to learn more about these skills, what that involves, to walk through some scenarios (and information on how they might want to chill out on sex until they get better at communicating or have more time to feel more comfortable with sexual partnership), so it’s not like I’m saying "Just communicate," and then sending them off without more on how to do that.


    And I love your last paragraph: we try and give them that message a lot, and it’s such a good one. One can’t say it enough!


  • invalid-0

    I personally believe that you should have sex at all times when you are sober. Intimacy and the closeness between two people would be best when sober, not drunk. If you are not in control of what you are doing, it would be risky in my opinion to be drunk and have sex. You might not even remember the next morning who you had sex with… Good discussion piece though. thanks.