By Tawny Lara (The Sober Sexpert)
Alcohol *literally* dulls our senses. While we may drink to take the edge off or mentally check out, alcohol often takes us out of our bodies, too. This means that the “drunk sex is better!!!” trope doesn’t always ring true. How great can sex be if you’re not *feeling* it to its full capacity?
Engaging in sober sex creates a new world of possibilities in the bedroom for many reasons, but for the sake of this piece, let’s focus on booze-free ~self-love~. Love yourself. Literally. Now that the foggy haze of booze is lifted, your mind should feel clearer. Maybe now’s the time to finally entertain those sexual curiosities that live in your brain rent-free.
If you were lucky enough to get sex ed in school, you were most likely only taught how to avoid pregnancy or getting someone pregnant which is essentially a beat-around-the-bush (pun intended) discussion on How to Handle Semen. Sex ed rarely discusses pleasure — especially for folks with vulvas or in queer relationships.
Masturbation is an important part of sexual exploration regardless of your relationship status. How can we expect our partner(s) to turn us on if we don’t even know what we’re into?
Here are a few ways to ~love~ yourself — no boo or booze required.
Take Yourself on a Hot Date
A hot date can be anything from going out to a nice dinner or taking yourself to a museum. My partner jokes that he liked taking himself on dates because he knew he’d always enjoy the company and that he’d always put out at the end of the night. You’re the one in the driver’s seat here so there’s no need to compromise on what the date consists of. Maybe now’s the right time to check out that new restaurant or finally go to that museum exhibit you’re eyeing.
Allow Yourself to Research
Explore all of the sexiness and weirdness that the internet has to offer. These days there are books, podcasts, articles, and social media accounts, that discuss every possible niche. Think you might be part of the LGBTQIA+ community but never explored that side of yourself? Read about all of the wonderful colors of our rainbow. Remember that the Q stands for Questioning for moments just like these. Curious about sex toys but don’t know where to start? Sex toys have come a long way from The Rabbit. Do a thorough search to find brands and toys that align with your pleasure and values. Think you might want to be spanked? Watch some ethical BDSM porn or read some erotica that includes impact play. If you’re feeling frisky, try spanking yourself while masturbating or looking in the mirror. Think you might actually dislike sex and/or romance? Read about asexuality, aromanticism, and the nuances of demisexuality.
Try These Journal Prompts
What makes you feel sexy? Perhaps it’s visual stimulation (porn, reading erotica). Maybe receiving a compliment from someone you’re into makes you feel desired. Or maybe you like to close your eyes and align your mind and body. Take time to explore these turn-ons through pen and paper.
If you have no clue where to begin with all of this, try writing down a list of curiosities. Then select one or two that stand out. Remember that your sexual curiosities are completely valid as long as those involved are consenting adults.
Play With Textures
Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it depresses our nervous system. This hinders brain function which dulls our senses. In layman’s terms, an alcohol-induced depressive state can cause anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure). Now that booze is literally off the table, we can reconnect to our senses. See how your skin reacts to feathers, pinwheels, or gentle fingernail tracing. Allow yourself to embrace these new sensations and possibly incorporate them into your regular self-love routine.
Literally. I actually try to have a Day of Nothing once a week to recharge my battery. I usually spend that day in bed with a good book or streaming The Office for the 100th time. I order takeout that makes me happy or cook if I’m feeling up to it. The magic of ~doing nothing~ only happens when you allow yourself to enjoy it. Don’t beat yourself up for being lazy. You’re not lazy for taking care of yourself. Remember that rest is actually productive! If all you did today was avoid booze, that equals success in my eyes.
Finding ways to honor our mind and body is important for all of us, regardless of relationship status. Especially in sobriety or when participating in a dry month. Using alcohol as a means to mask reality has ripple effects that arise mentally and physically. Taking these moments of stillness, fun, and reflection allows us to actually process our new reality while also learning what turns us on.