10 Things That Changed When I Started Making Love Sober

Making love sober was a very scary idea for me, especially as someone who used to use booze as a mental lubricant. I had my fair share of drunk experiences, but when I stopped drinking, I had to learn to have sober intimacy. It’s been an interesting ride but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

  1. I know how much intimacy means to me now. I used to be happy to have strings of one-night stands or I’d sleep with people right away. The issue was that I was lying to myself when I said that the love-making didn’t matter. It has always meant something to me, I just couldn’t acknowledge that fact until I started doing it sober. Now I treat it like the sacred act that it is. I respect myself and the other person and don’t say “yes” to making love lightly.
  2. My inhibitions stay at the same level. It used to be that when I drank I’d lower my inhibitions in a heartbeat. I’d tell myself at the beginning of the night that I wasn’t going to hook up with anyone, but by the end of the night, I’d find myself sleeping with a stranger. The great thing about being sober is that I have a level where my inhibitions rest. They really don’t fall below that level, leaving my dignity intact. This way I can trust myself in all situations and don’t fear that I’ll just jump into bed with someone.
  3. I’m far less impulsive. I used to have thoughts about sleeping with someone and I’d immediately act on them, coming onto them way too soon. There was no space in between my desire and my action. Now, as a sober person, I have a pause in between the thoughts and when I act. Because of that gap, I’m able to refrain from acting. Who knew that I could actually have impulse control? It leaves me only choosing to sleep with people after I’ve really thought long and hard about it.
  4. I learned what boundaries are. I never used to know how to speak my mind to a partner, partially because I was intoxicated most of the time, but also because I never really learned to set boundaries. In sobriety, I know what I want and don’t want and I’ve learned to speak up about it. I’ve grown comfortable saying “no” and sticking to it. It’s been a beautiful way to keep myself safe in the bedroom and outside of it.
  5. I realized I’m allowed to change my mind. When I was drinking, I thought that I owed intimacy to people. If I went home with them, kissed them, or we started to get naked, I thought it meant that I had to go all the way with them. It was a terribly sad way of being because there were so many times I changed my mind, but it happened anyway. Now, as a sober woman, I’m not afraid to say “never mind.” I know that I have a right to do that and I don’t have to feel bad. This is one of the most valuable lessons that has helped keep me safe.
  6. I no longer hate myself after making love. I used to wake up feeling dirty, shameful, and like a piece of crap. None of this was true, but because I had such little control over my intimate life, I was left hating myself. This feeling of self-loathing doesn’t happen anymore. I’ve moved towards only sleeping with people I care about and trust. This keeps me safe from all of the awful self-hating feelings that I used to have because I’m OK with my decisions.
  7. I take way longer to be ready for intimacy. With alcohol as liquid courage and a way to lower my inhibitions, I slept with people quickly. Even when I wasn’t drunk, but I was actively drinking–I still jumped into bed with people quickly. In sobriety, however, I’ve learned to stop giving myself away so easily. I’ve maintained my dignity and respect by waiting until I’m comfortably in a committed relationship. This means I take a long time to be ready, but I’ve learned that the right people will wait for me.
  8. I’m growing to accept that love-making is often awkward. It’s hard for me to know whether or not it’s awkward if I’m totally plastered. When I’m drunk, I don’t care about how things are going and I somehow feel like I’m suaver. Alternatively, doing it sober means that I bump up against the inevitable human awkwardness. Intimacy can just be an awkward thing, especially the first time sleeping with someone new. The good news is that I’ve found acceptance around this and I’ve even learned to laugh.
  9. I now have genuine confidence. I used to have liquid courage to power my every move. Alcohol left me feeling super confident and hot while I was drunk, but I felt nervous and weird the next morning. The fortunate thing about sober intimacy is that my confidence level remains the same and it comes from a place that’s unwavering. I don’t have to worry about awful next morning feels because I’ll feel the same way—which is that I’m great!
  10. I’m learning to be in my body. It was a terribly sad thing that when I was having drunken sex, I would disassociate from my body. I’d be elsewhere or I’d drink more to try and ground myself. This pattern was super problematic. It’s been a learning process as I move through trauma and PTSD, but I’m actually learning how to be present in my body without disassociating. It’s a beautiful thing that I deeply appreciate and so do my partners.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.