Sober Sex Part Two: Who is this Stranger in My Bed?


When I look back at the two men I dated in the lacuna after my divorce and before I quit drinking, I actually have trouble imagining I was a participant. The choices I made in romantic partners, seemed to be based on how different they were from my ex-husband and how bad they were for me. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say both men crucified the English language, worked sporadically, were unapologetic substance abusers and could be accurately described as unpolished stones in the rough.


If I saw either of these guys now (or God forbid, rolled over and found them in my bed), I would do one of two things: discount them, or in the case of the bed – scream.


I’m Sober and He’s a Mess…

Which brings me to the subject of this article. In Sober Sex: Part One, we talked about how awkward social and sexual encounters can be when newly sober. But what happens when the partner in your bed is no longer meeting your newfound, clear-eyed expectations? What if you were self-medicating with a few shots of Tequila, to help yourself “enjoy” life with your significant other? What if the person of your dreams is an enabler? A person who is no longer good for your wellbeing – sexual or otherwise?


Now What?

Getting sober comes with a host of changes. We lose friends and gain new ones. Find hobbies and interests that don’t involve meeting at the local pub and evaluate our past behavior with an eye to making better decisions in future. We seek to improve the quality of our lives. It is natural that there may be some fallout in our romantic relationships.


The Thrill is Gone?

  • Give it Some Time – As long as you are not in danger, or the romantic decisions you have made while in your cups are not too ghastly (see paragraphs 1 & 2 – screaming is a good sign it’s really bad…), give it some time.
  • Make a Pros & Cons List – It sounds sterile, but a list of the pros and cons in your relationship can be an eye-opener or a relationship saver. Maybe it’s not as bad as you think.
  • Talk – If you’ve been downing a pint of vodka as liquid courage, because your partner is a bit too experimental for your taste, talk about it. Ask yourself, “Do I actually like this activity?” Tell your partner if you don’t. Tell your partner what you want.
  • Get couples’ counseling – I’ve never been to couples’ counseling (hence the “ex” in the husband cited above), but I think there are times when an expert is needed. If you have changed due to your sobriety, or your partner needs to change to accommodate your burgeoning self-satisfaction, a therapist may be vital to your success.
  • Talk Some More – We drink so we don’t have to face life’s exigencies or deal with conflict. In recovery, we must relearn to express our feelings. And make our desires and our demands known, without anger, fear or recrimination.
  • Face Facts – If it doesn’t work out, you know you have tried.


Hurt the One You Love…

The old song says, “You always hurt the one you love.” Alcoholics seem to lash out at the people they care about, and there are often relationship fences to be mended with sobriety. There’s a newness to it all. The awkwardness of sober sex is actually a positive. It indicates renewed feeling. The relationship and sexual issues that come to the fore in recovery are a positive. They indicate self-awareness and strength.


You can do this.


Be sober and kind and cognizant of what you want (“what you really, really want” to quote another old song). You can be sexually satisfied and in love, and express your desires as well as your deal breakers. You can feel. Let yourself feel…


Would you like to take the next step and get help?

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after marilyn head shot bio

Marilyn Spiller is a viral writer, recovery coach, and recovery advocate. She is the Marketing Director at Sanford, responsible for written and creative content, website design, new media, promotions, subscriber outreach, and SEO. Excursions Magazine is a particular source of pride; it serves a wide range of readers, and “excursion” has become part of the company vernacular, describing Sanford’s signature experiential outings for those in treatment. She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction and is Vice President of the Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy.