How To Approach Sex When You’re Newly Sober

How To Approach Sex When You’re Newly Sober

By Sarah Rusbatch –

Approaching sex when you’re newly sober can feel awkward. It can make you feel vulnerable and self-conscious – even with a long-term partner. That’s because so many of us have only ever had sex with a few drinks under our belt. So, how do you approach sex when you’re newly sober? With self-exploration and compassion, staying in the moment, and feeling all the feels.


But first, why do we feel anxiety or nerves around sober sex? It’s because we worry about how we look if we are “performing”, and if we will have an orgasm or not. So, don’t give yourself a hard time or think there’s anything wrong with you for overthinking it. Sex can highlight our deepest vulnerabilities – which is why so many of us use alcohol to numb them out.


But sober sex can be more intimate, intense, and pleasurable. Many women say they feel like they enjoy it more because they feel emotionally closer to their partner and because the physical sensations are heightened. Studies show that women under the influence of alcohol have a decreased intensity of orgasm.


According to research at the National Library of Medicine, alcohol use causes testosterone levels to drop. Lowered testosterone in men leads to fatigue, lowered libido, decreased sperm production, shrinking testicles and erectile dysfunction. In women, it can lead to hair loss, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain, depression, anxiety, reduced libido and an inability to have orgasms.


Let’s dive in.


Here’s how to approach sex when you’re newly sober…


Don’t rush it. Take your time being ready, emotionally, for sober sex. That might take a month or two. Start getting to know your own body and feeling into your emotions. This mindfulness will help put you in your body, rather than in your head. Start to notice what’s going on in your body, and don’t rush the exploration. Take as long as you need to feel ready.


Get in tune with your own sexuality. If you’ve spent years only having sex when you’re drunk, you may be out of tune with what you want and need physically. Explore this with your partner or on your own and keep an open mind. When you give up drinking, many emotions will rise to the surface, and we must sit with them and process them properly. It’s the same with sex. Explore self-pleasure in early sobriety as another part of rediscovering who you are without alcohol.


Feel it all. This is the greatest benefit of sober sex. You will feel it all, so let yourself feel it. Move out of your head and into your body and let your body “wake up” to pleasure and arousal. Try not to judge the details of sex you may not have noticed before: the sound of your breathing, the tastes and smells, your partner’s mood… Try not to see any of these as good or bad. Rather, use your senses to stay present in the moment.


Talk about what you’re afraid of. Talk about your fears or insecurities with your partner. Or simply fess up that stone cold sober sex is new to you, so you might need to ease into it slowly. Remember, a lot of sex, drunk or sober, is awkward. It’s not movie sex. Real sex has moments of awkwardness. So, go into it with compassion for yourself and generosity for the moment, your partner and the experience you’re in together.


It’s meant to be fun. Sex is meant to be fun – so enjoy it and forget about trying to make it the most mind-blowing experience possible. Go into sober sex with a light heart and take the pressure off the experience. It’s easy to get caught up in “performative sex” but a more authentic connection is made when you stop performing and be present with what actually feels good.