The First Time I Had Sex After Getting Sober

Losing your virginity isn’t necessarily the biggest first in your life. Here, one woman shares her most significant sexual first

first time sex sober: A collage of a woman's face with water
(Art: Leo Tapel)

“I can remember so clearly the first time I got drunk, because it was such a revelation: As soon as I experienced it, I thought, Oh, this is definitely what I’m doing from here on in. I was in grade 10, and I spent a lot of time during the week making extravagant plans to get alcohol, and then I spent the weekend consuming alcohol. I didn’t really have boyfriends the way people did in grade 10 or 11. I do remember having a bunch of people over and someone saying that no one wanted to date me because I was always drunk. That hurt. It’s sort of how my high school experience was framed.

The guys I dated in university definitely drank heavily, though not as heavily as I did. I wasn’t drunk all the time during sex—it wasn’t like drinking, for me, led to sex. If anything, my drinking prevented sex. I was also a serial monogamist. I had long-term boyfriend after long-term boyfriend; I did not allow myself even two months of being single in my adult life. I think I locked myself into relationships as a safety net, because I knew how out-of-control I could get. I wasn’t going home with strangers or having one-night stands. Even at my sloppiest, close-to-blackout drunk, no one took sexual advantage of me. I remember wanting to go on a road trip by myself and I was like, No, you know how drunk you like to get, that will not turn out well. Serial monogamy was a form of self-protection.

The year I got sober, in 2010, is also the year my marriage started to unwind. When you quit drinking, you have to relearn everything: how to handle yourself at a social event, how to go to an Italian restaurant and only have water, how to have an argument without using alcohol as a crutch. You relearn affection and intimacy. I don’t have vivid memories of sex with [my husband] being good or bad or awkward—it was just one of many things that were happening during that period of time. It doesn’t stick out from anything else.

After the marriage ended, I contacted someone I knew and was attracted to. I sent him a message and was like, Do you want to hang out? It was exciting to me to initiate a relationship sober. It was such a thrill and a high in itself. I think that’s what people are missing out on when they lubricate with alcohol—there’s so much adrenaline and so much fire that you can drown out if you need a bottle of wine before sex. The first time I slept with my partner, it was very powerful, and very exciting, and a lot hotter, because I was riding all the waves and making decisions very consciously—I loved it. I was more present, I wasn’t numb, I could feel my body. It was a really great experience. And it was a really validating experience: sober sex was better.”—As told to Danielle Groen 

More firsts:

The First Time I Had Sex in My Correct Gender
The First Time I Had Sex After Opening Up My Relationship
The First Time I Had Sex After Giving Birth
The First Time I Had Sex After Being Assaulted
The First Time I Had Sex with Myself
The First Time I Had Sex After Major Surgery
The First Time I Had Sex After Coming Out
The First Time I Had Sex After an Abortion
The First Time I Had Sex After My Marriage Ended

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