I was on birth control by the time I was 15, and started drinking "for real" around the time I was 14. So drinking and having sex were happening at the same time, and as I got older and became more of a drinker, my behaviour became riskier, too.
Alcohol, when it was working well, was not just an aphrodisiac, but a way to make me feel a little more confident in my sexuality.
And, when you're drinking, you're not making great choices, so I had some less than ideal lovers in a pretty big way. I had a very extensive education, and my friends never understood my choice in men, like musicians, guys on motorcycles…at one time, I was completely wrapped up in this guy who was a poet. And, um, he was also a drug dealer. It was a mess. I was raised to be confident and accepting, but alcohol really lowered my standards for who got to be there with me.
There was a period in college where I drank, but I wasn't having a lot of negative consequences. The men I fell in with were decent enough people. I didn't really "date" much then…as a drunk, I just sort of hooked up. If I had been on like four actual dates before I met my husband in my 30s I'd be surprised. I'm divorcing, and my husband and I, when we were together, well…for me, I didn't have the most satisfying sex of my life with him, but it wasn't terrible.
Dating earlier in my sobriety, I always planned to wait longer and never succeeded. I never really made it past a couple of dates. The "self-judgment committee in my head" is louder as a sober person. So it's harder to be at ease with dating.
What I'm attracted to hasn't changed, but now, I'll end a bad date sooner, or avoid it altogether, because I'm not just drinking until it's fun and planning to sleep with the guy. Last spring, actually, I ended a date after just a bit of heavy petting because I knew it wouldn't go anywhere with that guy, and I used to be a girl who couldn't say no. I felt proud, in a funny way, that I want more than a booty call in my life.
"The sex you can have while sober is just better."
You can feel more. It also raises the stakes in terms of vulnerability. The surprising thing was that it was just as hard to communicate sexually with sober people as it was while I was drinking, because when you're drunk, you're not really communicating at all. Now, it just feels riskier to communicate what you want clearly.
Women who were drinking at 24 and are now having sex for the first few times sober when they're 44 will notice a difference. My orgasms are stronger. Also, my standards are higher.
The people who I have strong sexual feelings of attraction to are often still emotionally unavailable. I had a couple of crushes this year and it didn't take long for them to reveal they were the same kind of person, so I didn't act on it. Now, I have self-knowledge. In recovery, you reflect, you gain more self-knowledge and acceptance, and that brings you to a better position for connecting physically and sexually and emotionally.
I'm currently dating again, and I'm still attracted to younger men, but I realise they're also emotionally younger. Their masculinity and bravado is sexually very appealing to me, but in bed, those guys don't even really f*ck that well. They're young, they're inexperienced, they're self-centered…so they're not that interested in you having a good time.
And, as a sober person, I am considerably less sexually aggressive or forward. Yesterday I even texted a man asking him out, freaked out when he didn't respond quickly, vowed never to do it again, and then relaxed after he said yes. We'll see how that goes.
Overall, I feel like the world needs more sex in it. The times my sex life has been satisfying, I'm like, this is what's right with the world. I think I felt that way even when I was drinking. Sexuality matures and changes, but that maturity can look and feel pretty good, even more so when you're not deadening your feelings with alcohol.