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People make New Year resolutions. “Quit smoking, lose weight, start going to the gym, date more, work less, spend more time with family, give up drugs and alcohol.” I’ve noticed just as many people get sober in December as they do in January. Hopefully a lot of people in early recovery are reading this post (written January 4th). SEX TALK is for everyone in recovery but this Sunday’s topic will speak to the person in early sobriety.

One thing I’ve noticed when I try to talk to women in early sobriety about sex is that many of them dismiss the subject claiming they have no interest in sex or that they’ve never been very sexual. A few weeks later I’ll see them make a bee line toward whatever attractive man shared during the AA meeting and watch them bask in male attention. This isn’t to say I don’t witness the same behavior in men. The difference is that men rarely dismiss their sexual desire outright. There are all sorts of ways to interpret this but I believe when we’re loaded we deny a lot of our needs – from our need for nourishment to the need for shelter – so why would our sexual needs be any different? However, once drugs and alcohol are removed, the body reawakens. If we’ve been isolated, attending meetings provides social interaction. The playfulness of flirtatious intrigue can feel as exciting and nerve-racking at 40 as it did in high-school. We come back to life in sobriety and sooner or later we experience sober sex.

But what is sober sex like?

Drunk and high, we were likely to have sex first and think about it afterward. If there were emotional consequences, we got high to forget them. Hooking up drunk can lead to relationships with people you didn’t choose. But having wasted sex had its perks. It was a way to do something you may have wanted to do without accountability. Sex sober is a decision.

For some people the idea of having sex sober is so terrifying they’ll remain celibate for years rather than seek out professional help to explore the source of this fear. Others discover that sex is the only place they feel powerful and secure. Some people enjoy sex as a physical activity without a need for emotional attachment and others can only have sex if it’s an expression of intimacy. You can count on one thing – a lot of unexpected feelings will surface around sexual desire and desirability. You may experience conflicting emotions. Expect self-discovery to include a lot of trial and error in sobriety. It takes time to discover what your needs are, what you’re attracted to, and what works for you.

But what is sober sex like?

Join me this Sunday at 9pm ET for SEX TALK where we’ll share our experiences with sober sex. SEX TALK is a free monthly live video open discussion on http://www.intherooms.com. Join In the Rooms (a free recovery website) to access this event. Get the free phone app and tune in from anywhere.

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  Jan 06, 2017

Patty is a nationally recognized certified recovery coach and writer. She lives in New York City.


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