Sober Sex? Dear God Help Me I’m Talking About It

At the age of 16 I was truly kissed for the very first time, sure I’d had the fumbling kisses of younger years but this one made my toes curl. I stood leaning against my Father’s car in the driveway of the first “real” love of my life, he leaned in and as our lips met my world changed. In that nanosecond the world stopped and I can remember everything. The way the breeze came off the fields, how he smelled and how his lips were a bit dry and chapped against mine. My 16 year old self revelled in the moment, snatching the feelings and storing them away for eternity.

The first time I had sex was the same, I can recall everything in detail as if it were happening within the moment of recall. These are lovely memories, of a youthful, more innocent time of my life and when I do take time to recall them my focus is on myself and how I love that girl.

Unfortunately not all of my sex life is filled with lovely memories, in fact some of it happened during blackouts so I don’t have the ability to recall them while others have me cringing at my drunken behaviour. At some point in my life alcohol and sex became intricately webbed together, one would inevitably happen when the other was involved. I know I’m not alone in this, ask either a woman in her 20’s or her 40’s and I’m certain we will find that alcohol and sex go together for them as well.

In our society it’s the norm, just look around at alcohol advertisements and one can see that sex and booze are married together and they sell. The names of cocktails reflect this; Harvey Wallbanger, Sex on the Beach, Slippery Nipple and such should have us blushing while ordering.

The fact is that drinking lowers inhibitions, creating a relaxed atmosphere as we let loose. When I wanted to get closer to someone, a bottle would instantly create a feeling of false intimacy as my beer goggles got thicker and my self-image became much larger.

Sober Sex? Dear God Help Me

sober sex

After years of uncorking a bottle to get in the mood without even realizing how heavily I relied upon it, the day came when I got sober and couldn’t unwind this way anymore. Talk about a slap in the face, suddenly I felt incapable of connecting with my husband or even myself on a sexual level anymore.

I can remember sitting in my 12 Step Meeting, looking around the table at a sea of strangers and openly crying about this. Timidly I admitted I had NO idea how to function sexually without  being able to chill over a glass of wine or 2 and I was begging for help.


These strangers totally got what I was talking about, in fact one doesn’t have to be a recovering alcoholic to understand it. Imagine if you were unable to have alcohol ever again……how would your sex life be?

Do you rely on booze to get in the mood?

Sex is an act of trust. We both literally and figuratively strip ourselves naked in order to connect with another human with all of our flaws right out there in the open. If we want spectacular sex, we go all in with our emotions and truly let loose, abandoning all sense of self-consciousness and get lost in the moment. Getting lost in the moment is so much easier with booze, hell it’s designed to allow our hedonistic nature take over.

So how the hell can sober sex be as good?

It took me a while to fully get to the point where I was brave enough to let myself go  This involved many disappointing nights for both my husband and I. There were tears, raging, frustration….all while my poor husband tried to console me. Eventually I learned that I was not going to be the sexy, open minded beast I thought I’d been….because I never actually was that girl. That was drunk Julie who wasn’t actually who I am at the core. It was a journey to learn this but in the end I have found that sober sex is different than alcohol laden sex because I am different.

As I got to know myself more, learned to love myself for who I am right then in the moment my sex life got better. The more I accepted myself, the more willing I was to be vulnerable in the moments with my husband. There was no more veil of alcohol to protect me or to mask the intimacy of the moment.

Sober sex is an experience where you’re TRULY in the moment, with all of their clear-headed thoughts and desires. You’re able to notice more about your partner and the communication is much clearer. The connection during sober sex is stronger, more intense.

If someone came to me, begging as I did for someone to give me back my sex life before sobriety I’d tell them that it does get better. By taking the days as they come, being willing to go slowly and connect with your partner the experience is richer, fuller than before.

These days the moments are as clear in my memory as those kisses at age 16, they are treasured and meaningful. We don’t rely upon sex to connect as a couple but in sobriety we have found a spiritual depth to our sex life which didn’t exist before.

Know there is hope and thank God there’s no more walk of shame after a night of sex! This doesn’t mean that sober sex is boring, it can be as wild as you’d like it to be once you’ve decided what that is, you’ll have a BLAST.




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20 Responses

  1. I get where this is coming from totally. I often say that drunk sex is the best sex only because it is true, you loose your inhibitions and can relax into it more. It doesn’t happen very much now that I have been drinking, let alone be drunk while having sex, but what I kept thinking while reading your post was about having the lights turned off. I am not feeling so comfortable with myself, so find it way more relaxing to have the lights off. With them on, I feel much more vulnerable. Not to say it is the same as drunk sex, but this is what came to mind, and the fear of having the lights on was what struck me while reading this. Thanks for being so open Julie xo

  2. I battled alcohol and drugs for 5 years, most of which was a hazy mess of eww. Trying to do things sober was the same for me, it took time and trust. I had to become vulnerable and share my vulnerabilities with my husband and once i allowed myself to do this, sex became wonderful again. This is a beautiful post Julie, thank you for sharing

  3. “And now about sex…” ;) Thank you so much for this post. So many of your posts touch me in a way that only an alcoholic can understand. Learning to live another way is so different, so difficult, such a blessing. I learned about sex after 2 1/2 years into sobriety–how I used it and misused it, and it was certainly a rude awakening that sobriety and recovery are not one in the same. I learned how to love–love God, love myself, love others. It took a lesson so painful and so shameful to awaken myself into a person I now respect. It took this instance that nearly caused me to lose everything I worked so hard to get back. It took sex to teach me that there really is an easier softer way, and that is the way of the 12 steps. Although I learned a valuable lesson and have become a better person than I have ever been, I will forever remember the power of that sex truly has–both good and bad. And as long as a keep in conscious contact, that power will always be used rightly. So thank you for yet another beautiful reminder of why I do what I do, why I am who I am and why today I am truly blessed with 3 1/2 years of beautiful, amazing recovery.

  4. Yeppers, I know so well what you went through, exactly the same as me, being sober for four years and truthfully I’m still not happy with myself and wished I could rely on the bottle of booze, but we struggle through’s not happy sex sometimes but we both get over it

  5. This is truly beautiful to read. While I haven’t had an alcohol problem myself I think there’s a lot of other ways that sex isn’t ‘sober’ and the tips that you’ve provided work really well for those times too.

  6. Julie, this is such a wonderfully written post! I can relate in the sense that I live with Bipolar Disorder and it is the ‘highs’ that created the more embarrassing moments for me. I have such a huge respect for you and the people that you help everyday may be unknown to you but for me, personally…this post was a helper :)

  7. I hadn’t considered that being intimate would be so difficult after getting sober. Thank you for sharing and for opening my eyes to this struggle. This was a brave post.

  8. Julie, thanks so much for the things you share. We have a family member who struggles with alcohol, drugs, and an eating disorder. She has a very low self esteem and uses sex to help herself feel better. I’m going to forward this to her. I’ve sent her some other posts you’ve written and I hope she can find some clarity from them.

  9. Julie, this post was just what I needed. I am in the beginning stages of (what is for me) a lifestyle change and reading this honest, raw, and hope-giving post is uplifting! It’s a reminder to me to take things as they come and to (try) not to get discouraged. Thank you

  10. Thanks for this post, I can barely connect emotionally to myself let alone my partner these days as I am newly sober….this post gives me hope for the future.

  11. thank you so much for this post, Julie. I am coming up on two years of sobriety after using and drinking for 20 years (most of my life). My husband and I have not been intimate in over a year and I really would just rather not even consider it. It terrifies me but I do care about what he wants and needs. How long did it take you to get comfortable and love yourself? I feel like I do love myself, but I’m not ready yet.


  12. I know this post was written a couple years ago, but I have only just recently found your blog. I wanted to comment and say thank you for being so open with others about your recovery, including details about things as intimate as sex. You give a voice to so many who travel the path of self-discovery. Thank you. Please keep writing.

  13. Congratulation on the hard work it took to get to this point and thank you for being willing to share your story. I enjoy having a beer or alcohol every now and then but it’s not really an option for me right now because I’m breastfeeding and the little one HATES beer lol.. I hope this comment still finds you doing well with sobriety a year and a half later!

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