Booze-Free Boning

Dear Dategirl,

After spending most of my teens and 20s fucking around in a drunken haze, I finally pulled myself together, got sober, and found a nice place to live. I have a career-track job for the first time ever! My skin looks amazing. I no longer wake up looking puffy and defeated, I have tons of energy, and work out almost every day. I can see my abs!

I’m very lucky because my “bottom” wasn’t anything dramatic. I’m healthy and never killed anyone driving drunk. Incredibly, I got through my promiscuous stage with no STDs or unplanned pregnancies. I thank God every day for this gift of sobriety. I have all these amazing things happening, but I’m completely terrified at the idea of dating. More specifically, the idea of having sex completely sober. I’m 28, and I’ve never had sex when I haven’t been wasted. Just writing that makes me feel like such a loser. I’ve had “relationships,” but they were always with men even more fucked up than I was. How does anyone do this?

—Sober and Celibate

I’ve had drunk sex and I’ve had the sober variety, and believe me, sober sex is far better. For one thing, if you’re banging a dude who’s also drunk, if he’s actually able to get it up, it usually takes him forever to come. Meanwhile, you’re stuck with this half-flaccid member chafing your lady bits. Fun. And I don’t know about you, but for this lady, drunk orgasms are as rare as winged unicorns or ugly kittens. And while sex sans orgasms is fine, it’s certainly not why we’ve invested in spendy undergear.

To get an expert’s take, I posed your question to Anna David, author of the novel Party Girl and executive editor at the recovery-oriented website The Fix. “Before I got sober, nearly all the sex I’d had—excluding, say, morning sex—had been when I was somewhere between buzzed and wasted,” she explains. “Sure, initiating sex was easier because my inhibitions were down, but those absent inhibitions also caused me to do all sorts of things I never would have in the sober light of day.”

We didn’t even get into the risk factors of drunk sex: beer-goggle partners (coyote arm!), the ripped condom nobody notices until too late, and the increased likelihood that you’ll put yourself in sketchy situations. I’ve certainly had my share of drunken misadventures—like the support-hose-wearing, donkey-dicked, bisexual revenge lay. Or the shut-up fuck. If I’d been sober, would I ever have had sex with someone just to make him stop talking? Um, no. Would I have believed that screwing the roommate of the guy who dumped me was a clever revenge tactic? Well, that I might’ve believed sober, but I’m not very bright.

Anna, who’s been clean for many years now, says, “There’s nothing terrifying about sex—it’s one of the most natural things in the world—once you can get out of your head about it. And, no matter what anyone else says, just getting inebriated doesn’t mean you’re out of your head about the sex. I’ve only been able to get in the moment and actually enjoy the sex in sobriety.”

So congrats on getting your shit straight, young lady. Now get out there and make some sweet, sober love.