I spent a bit of time with a female friend recently and we got talking about sex, like you do. So many of her sexual experiences involved alcohol, which left her with an uncomfortable feeling. Questioning her experiences. Did she really want to have sex with that person? Was she really consenting? It all felt a little, rushed, sloppy and forced. Add to that the usual anxiety, guilt, shame and questioning: “what did I do and say last night?” etc. You know those awful flashbacks you get where you think OMG, did I really swing from the chandelier? It’s a recipe for disaster.
That got me thinking, how many of us have had unsatisfactory sexual, intimate encounters because we have drunk too much?
I like to think I have quite a good attitude to sex. I am open minded, confident, happy to play and experiment, I am clear about what I am happy to do and not, able to say no and stand my ground if needed. But even when I looked back all of my uncomfortable encounters were under the influence of booze (luckily there weren’t many and are far outnumbered by interesting, intimate and enjoyable experiences).
Unfortunately, alcohol lends itself to a sexual disaster. It relaxes us and makes us feel disinhibited. Great if you can just have 1 to loosen up, if you need to, but how many people can say that?
You are on a night out, a date maybe. You are excited. Have a drink. You feel relaxed and you meet someone. It’s exciting. It’s so easy to drink 2,3,4,5 and more drinks. By drink 2 or 3 that’s pretty much it, if you drink more than that, you are most definitely under the influence.
When under the influence we make choices (well let’s face it, they are not really choices, more impulse decisions with a 14-year-old in charge) that we wouldn’t normally make if we hadn’t had a drink. We might have a drunken fumble or go home with someone. That’s a risk in itself, going home with someone you don’t know. Maybe consent is off the table because of how much you have had to drink. Your behaviour can be a little off, maybe you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Then in the morning it all feels a little hazy.
Can’t quite remember what happened? Feeling anxious? Hungover? Who is this person anyway? Unprotected sex? There are so many potential risks here I don’t need to tell you.
But even more important than that, you put your body through an experience you weren’t really in charge of. If you are under the influence you are not able to consent.
What’s great about sex and intimacy, is you get to be with someone, connect with someone, be vulnerable and enjoy each other’s bodies. Take it slow, breathe, relax into it, and be present. It’s supposed to be a pleasurable experience. If it feels uncomfortable take your time, get to know someone, don’t drink to make it happen.
If you are someone that drinks and then has risky, uncomfortable sexual encounters I encourage you to take a break from booze and just date for a while. Get to know you. Feel good socialising without alcohol, take it slow, build intimacy and learn how to enjoy sex without alcohol. Be in charge of your body and decisions.
If you want to learn more about taking a break check out my book There is No Magic Button.