When we drink we are often chasing feelings of love and connection. The alcohol advertising industry tells us that this is what drinking gives us. They tell us that when we drink we will have romantic moments where we can be vulnerable and connected to our partners and that the lubrication it offers will bring couples closer together.
Of course, the reality is very different.
I don’t suppose I am much different from most women who grew up drinking regularly. In my younger days, Friday nights were designated ‘nights on the lash’ – a beer and rock night head-banging fest that would involve hunting men down with my ‘pulling pants’ on, a confident witty line and a sexy flip of the hair. In reality, I suspect I looked like a camel toe sporting, slurring drooler, who stumbled off to the loo desperate for a pee. (I have a ridiculously tiny bladder which alcohol just made worse.)
As I got older I convinced myself that it gave me confidence. As a pretty shy person, I think in some respects it did actually give me some confidence to talk to men I would never have had the courage to otherwise. I had a pretty poor view of men for a variety of reasons but still craved that intimacy that I was lacking. So, on most nights out when I had passed that inevitable point of one too many, my default drunk position in relation to men was ‘belligerent slut’. I would be horrible to men, practically daring them to sleep with me. I was rude, mean and sometimes downright unpleasant. Needless to say, I didn’t get laid that often.
When I did, they were always completely the wrong person for me.
I fell for it all. I had those special rose-tinted beer goggles that always let me down. The guilt and shame I felt after an encounter was often crippling and I would beat myself up about it for weeks afterwards.
About 15 years ago I ended a particularly toxic relationship. Alcohol hadn’t been the main problem we had but it was definitely a major contributing factor. He drank a lot and so sex was off the cards most of the time, which didn’t help with maintaining any intimacy in the relationship.
When it finally ended I felt that my judgement in regard to men was pretty poor and I also felt that my ability to find/choose/keep a good man was non-existent. I decided to give myself a one-year break from relationships altogether because I felt that I needed to sort my head out and get clear about what I wanted. As I mulled everything over I came to understand that I had been drunk in pretty much every first encounter I had had over the years.
I did carry on drinking but my one-year relationship break turned into an unplanned ten-year engagement with near celibacy. I just didn’t trust myself not to try to make a relationship out of a one-night stand in case I got my heart broken. To be fair I wasn’t 100% celibate for those ten years. There was a brief relationship and there were a few dating encounters that included sex but never went anywhere and I can count them on one hand (and not include my thumb and pinky finger!).
How did I manage it, you ask? Do you think I have a will of iron? Not so. Much greater than my determination to make better dating choices for myself was my gut churning fear of making a fool of myself in public. I had done some stupid things when I was drunk and around the time I stopped looking for a relationship I began to develop this fear of being too drunk in front of others. Obviously, it didn’t always happen that way but for the most part, I would always aim to go home remembering the entire evening, and if I felt I hadn’t drunk enough while I was out, I would top-up when I got home.
That led to a lot of drinking at home so my chances of meeting anyone was almost zero.
My big shift in relation to my view of sex happened during my time in Taiwan. I lived there for three and a half years and the expat community in my city was pretty tight. There was a big drinking culture and there was also a reasonable amount of sex being partaken of. It seemed indiscriminate and very little thought given to who anyone was doing it with – as long as the sex was happening frequently enough.
One day, this thought wandered into my mind and just got stuck there….”sex is the most intimate thing you can do with another person and if you’re going to do it you need to do it with someone you really like or love.” Wherever that thought came from I just felt like I had found the answer to my conflicts around sex.
Once I stopped drinking a couple of years later, that thought became my mantra.
I love being sober and single. I love my own space and the peace and contentment I live in. I guess it might be quite nice to meet someone but he is going to have to be specifically, weirdly brilliant for me to allow him into my life. If I ever do meet someone, I am so confident in myself that I know, whilst it might be a bit nerve-wracking the first time I know I will be doing it with the right person, so, it will be wonderful.
Your Sex Life
I know there is a ton of information out there about the effects of alcohol on your sex life and you can find plenty of it on the internet, so I’m not going to bore you with that. For me, the most important aspect of this is the emotional impact that alcohol might be having on your sex life at the moment. Have you lost interest in sex? Do you do things when you are drunk that you wouldn’t do in a million years if you had been sober? Do you fear sober first-time sex?
Being sober, open and vulnerable with your partner might feel terrifying where you are at the moment, however, the more sober you become the more confident you will feel.
Think back to those evenings that were meant to be romantic and connected but got totally ruined by too much alcohol. Staying sober for those moments is wonderful for both of you.
Getting sober doesn’t have to mean the end to rampant, sexy weekends in gorgeous country cottages. The more sober you become the more confident you become and I have never met a man yet who didn’t love a confident, sexy woman who knows what she wants.
Sobriety offers you the opportunity to connect with your partner in a way you’ve never done before, and it also gives you the chance to experience sex in a way that is truly authentic to you and what you really want. As you become more confident in your sobriety it becomes easier to have a conversation with your partner about sex in a calm, clear way and agree on what you both need.
Don’t assume that men don’t yearn for the kind of connection that we do. Sometimes men mistake sex for connection but when you’re sober you can show them what true intimacy really looks and feels like.
Take charge lady. Wear your fancy underwear on a week day and let him know you are.
Confidence isn’t coming. It’s already here if you choose to allow it.