Getty ImagesEsther Faciane
Whether you love, hate, or begrudgingly participate in dry January, there’s no denying it’s a Thing, and a week into the new year, you’ve probably heard allllll about it. Dry January is exactly what it sounds like—a month of no alcohol to start the year off a bit healthier, and a lot more sober.
While there aren’t many proven, long-lasting health benefits, participating in a month of sobriety can be beneficial in helping your skin clear up, saving you wads of cash, and boosting your new year’s #fitnessgoals. And, as it turns out, all that not-drinking also has some pretty positive effects on your sex life. Here are seven ways going booze-free—whether in January or any other month—affects your sexuality.
1. You might feel a little awkward at first.
There’s a reason why grabbing drinks is the go-to first date move (OK, and second through fourth date move) for so many people, and it’s that a glass of wine or two can help you relax, feel more at-ease, and boost your confidence. So the first thing you might notice about completely sober sex is that, without a slight buzz, you feel a little awkward, says Kristen Lilla, a social worker and AASECT certified sex therapist. “People often drink alcohol to ‘take the edge off,’ so they may feel more shy initiating sex,” Lilla says.
2. BUT! Feeling awkward might help you communicate more.
Feeling a little clunky and awkward in your sober body might be uncomfortable at first, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Without the slight buzz from your margarita or glass of wine, you’ll be particularly aware of what you’re feeling and thinking while you’re in the throes. Pay attention to those crystal clear thoughts, and don’t be afraid to act on them. Maybe stone-cold-sober you wants more foreplay, or different foreplay, or no foreplay at all.
3. You could learn something about how attracted you are to your partner.
While using a small amount of alcohol to relax and unwind is totally fine, using alcohol to relax and unwind every time you have sex isn’t so fine, explains Sari Cooper, a social worker and AASECT-certified sex therapist. Cooper works with a lot of people in their late 20s who are just starting to have sex sober for the first time in their lives, and notes that one of the big changes people notice first is how much they do or don’t desire their sexual partners. This could mean increased desire or, in some cases, decreased. If you need a drink just to feel attracted to someone, maybe you aren’t all that attracted to them at all.
4. You might learn some new things about what you want in bed.
Another thing Cooper says people often notice when they first start having totally sober sex is a new interest in certain sexual behaviors, like anal play, BDSM, group sex, etc. Sharper sexual mind!
5. You may be able to get aroused (and stay aroused) more easily.
Yes, a little buzz can make you feel sexier (hello, tequila), but it can also have a negative affect on your ability to actually have sex, explains Lilla. “Alcohol in your system makes it more difficult to get aroused—both for vaginal lubrication or obtaining an erection—and more difficult to orgasm,” Lilla says.
6. You’ll gradually have more energy.
Alcohol is a depressant, explains Lilla, which means that instead of hyping you up (like your morning coffee), it slows you down. Lilla says that abstaining from alcohol for a few weeks might mean you have more energy over time—especially if you’re a “wine before bed” person. Your sleep will be better, and when sex time comes, you won’t feel so drowsy.
7. You’ll feel more emotionally connected during sex.
Even a drink or two can dull your emotions juuuuust enough to take the edge off your feelings, which is part of what makes (responsible drinking of) alcohol fun, but maybe not so ideal for super intimate, romantic sex. Cooper says that, due to the “emotional stuffing of feelings through drinking,” the sex you have while tipsy can veer toward being emotionless. So whether you’re off booze for the entire month or not, try having sex totally sans-alcohol with your partner and see if you notice any difference in your ~feelings~. Maybe you’ll learn a whole bunch of new things, which in the context of sex, is only a good thing.
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