Everyone knows that alcohol lowers inhibitions. That’s why people drink it “to loosen up.” People turn to alcohol as a way to deal with anxiety, depression, bad news and many other situations where inhibitions might feel like an obstacle. People also turn to alcohol to help with the process of becoming physically intimate with another person as well. There are plenty of exceptions but a lot of people out there have one hang-up or another about their bodies or sexuality. In a society where there is so much pressure on both sexes to conform to a mainstream idea of attractiveness and sexuality, it’s no wonder that so many people feel more comfortable becoming physically intimate after a drink or two—or three.
Discovering your relationship with physical intimacy after alcohol is out of your life can be a difficult journey at first. You might find it difficult to let your guard down and even more difficult to feel sexy. Your nervousness might impact your ability to be the intimate partner that you would like to be. This is an under-discussed but common issue for people who are adjusting to sobriety – you are not alone. If you’re trying to navigate intimacy without alcohol to help buffer your anxieties, here are 3 tips that might help you to become physically intimate without a drink.
1. Take Your Time
Alcohol has a dizzying effect on people – literally. Alcohol can make everything seem urgent and, by lowering inhibitions, can make risky behavior seem more safe than it is. Remember that there may be some good reasons why you’re finding it difficult to connect intimately without alcohol. Perhaps you haven’t known your partner long enough to establish real trust. Perhaps your gut knows that your potential partner isn’t a good fit for you. Or, perhaps your brain knows that there is a better time and place for intimacy and it’s worth waiting for. No matter what, don’t rush yourself. Things move more slowly without alcohol in the picture and that’s a good thing.
2. Appeal to Your Senses
Sensuality is often associated with sexual pleasure but there’s a broader definition as well: pleasuring the senses at large. Let your mind and body function as a unit and appeal to each sense with your partner in a safe setting as a way to transition into physical intimacy. Consider the following: listen to relaxing and beautiful music while tasting something delicious. Do this while diffusing a soothing essential oil and get close to your partner with the help of a fabric that appeals to your sense of touch.
3. Practice Self-Love
One of the main reasons why so many people feel they need a drink before becoming physically intimate is because they are uncomfortable in their own skin. It’s a cliché for a reason: you really do need to love yourself before you can show love to anyone else. Practice self-love mantras, meditations and behaviors daily. Any time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself—specifically about your body or sexuality—stop yourself in your tracks and show yourself love instead. If you can learn to truly love yourself, you’ll mitigate the nervousness surrounding physical intimacy that is related to your self-image.