Sex and Alcohol

Someone at some point had to raise it (please no puerile sniggers) so let it be me. Sex and alcohol. They go together like bread and butter, Fred and Ginger, Boris and Donald. It’s also Valentine’s Day so what better day to address this primary drive. I must admit to being surprised that it’s not come up much before on these blogs as the two seem so entwined in both positive and negative ways. For us men, booze has always been a double edged sword (Is it possible to write about this subject without unintended innuendo?).  It gives us a confidence to approach a potential partner and yet too much booze can lead to the onset of the euphemistic “brewer’s droop” .  Shakespere as always puts it much better in one of the few funny moments of Macbeth when Mc Duff comes to wake Duncan and has a brief encounter with the drunken porter:

Macd: Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,”
That you do lie so late?
Porter: Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and drink,
sir, is a great provoker of three things.
Macd:What three things does drink especially provoke?
Port: Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance; therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

Of course alcohol as the drug that enables us to relax and give us confidence has an element of truth but when you give it up you see this for what it truly is, a myth. We are not going to examine my sex life you’ll be pleased to know, but I can say that I have had meetings with people and functions where previously I would have said to myself that I had to have a drink and now realise that I do not and probably never needed one. Yes I get a bit nervous sometimes but that soon passes and I now hardly ever yearn for the anxiety reducing qualities of booze. 

Alcohol and sex. Common bedfellows. Laugh a minute. Lose your inhibitions and have a good time. Meet people and enjoy yourself. All part of the cheery mythology of drinking. But there’s a dark side.

The darker side of this is that booze certainly lowers inhibitions and that means the drive for sexual activity becomes less restricted.  That may or may nor be good for some people but it also accounts for many instances of sexual assault, rape and unwelcomed sexual advances.  The soporific qualities of booze can lead to some people becoming victims of sexual activity that the only fully realise after the event. Or they may become so drunk they are incapable of giving consent and for some twisted individuals a lack of consent becomes bizarrely some kind of green light.  

The fact is a high proportion of rapes and sexual assaults take place where alcohol is involved and an article in the Guardian some years ago suggested rather than fixating on the role of “Date Rape Drugs” we should look at the role of alcohol itself.

While fears over exotic rape drugs might be unfounded, rape is all too common and alcohol frequently plays a role. Rather than fixating on unlikely scenarios of drink spiking, we might be better served by reexamining our collective relationship with alcohol and reinforcing the message that sex with someone incapable of giving consent is assault.  (Guardian 2014)

Of course not everyone who drinks behaves in this way but drink does seem to make people do things they might not normally do. The crime statistics show that a high proportion of crimes are alcohol related and the figure is staggeringly high when it comes to crimes involving violence as this quote from a Government Crime survey illustrates:

Victims perceived the offender(s) to be under the influence of alcohol in 53% of violent incidents measured by the 2013/14 CSEW. This is equivalent to an estimated 704,000 ‘alcohol-related’ violent incidents. While the volume of incidents has fallen, the proportion of violent incidents that were ‘alcohol-related’ has remained relatively steady over the last ten years. Crime Survey 2014

Writing this I’m now aware I’ve moved from a light hearted let’s look at alcohol and sex, titter, titter, to looking now at the dark underbelly of alcohol and sexual violence. That was not my intention, but maybe it says it all that once you scratch the surface of our relationship with alcohol, what seems like a harmless pleasure turns into a something altogether much scarier and harmful. Drink doesn’t turn people into violent offenders and rapists but it certainly seems to encourage those harbouring those dispositions. It will be interesting to see if, as the consumption of alcohol declines, we will see a corresponding decline in rapes, sexual assaults and violence.

Sorry folks, not a chirpy Jim post, not a consistent post. A rambling, confused post and a real downer of a Valentine’s Day post but maybe a good reminder of why many of us have turned away from this most damaging of drugs. It harms us individually and collectively in so many ways and clouds our judgement and decision making. I’m glad I have put it behind me. I know what Love looks like and I certainly don’t need a bottle of prosecco to recognise it.

Personally I cannot see one advantage that drinking alcohol would make to one’s sex life. If you need a drink before making love maybe you’re with the wrong person. If you’re sober and with the one you love that’s as good as anything this life offers.

Happy Valentine.

Enjoy being sober with the one you love.

Jim x

25 thoughts on “Sex and Alcohol

  1. gr8ful_collette

    Very “sobering” statistics, and your reflections on alcohol and sex are right on. I love your sentences at the end, “If you need a drink before making love maybe you’re with the wrong person. If you’re sober and with the one you love that’s as good as anything this life offers.” Truer words were never spoken, my friend!

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  2. clairei47

    No not a usually ‘chirpy Jim post’ but really important to discuss and put out there. Alcohol absolutely does numb us and leads us to be uninhibited. That’s why many of us love it and then crave it. To feel more relaxed, to be more adventurous, to throw caution to the wind. In reality that translates as . .. to misread situations, to feel immune to any risk and to not anticipate harm when it is near. I speak from personal experience when I say that alcohol can give us a sexual confidence that is dangerous. It took away my sensible decision making abilities when it came to men and sex and it muddled my brain. Confusion between what is purely sex and what is love and care … almost ruined me.
    So yes, like you, I’m so grateful I can now experience love and sex without alcohol. Sober and with the one you love .. perfect 👌🏻
    Claire xx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      That’s a very honest and brave comment Claire. It’s a shame you had to have such experiences but so glad you came through and are now able to move forward sober and hopefully with genuine love in your life. Jim x

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  3. Lovie Price

    During the last year i drank heavily on the regular, i was basically numb to sexual desires.I was with someone , yes, but he was also an alcoholic. We probably had sex less than 5 times in that year basically because we both preferred to keep drinking over hitting the sheets. I never thought i would say that prior to that year, but it happened. Even now, i still have very little desire but part of that is a lingering fear of being “present” for the first time in a decade with any potential partner. i can completely relate to what you are saying about the dark side of it( trust me i was a prime example of all that for years) so just wanted to add that there is the another dark side of it—getting to a point where alcohol is more important than sex, and it can truly ruin a relationship .

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  4. limetwiste

    The role alcohol plays in sexual assault and violence is a rock that societies choose not to look under because of the depth of economic power the alcohol companies hold over government.
    Greed trumps personal safety.
    Until alcohol is treated as a drug we will not be able to address this. It is so interwoven with politics, religion, sport and arts, basically most threads of society.

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  5. msnewleaf

    Thanks for putting that out there. I agree. It will be very interesting to see if sexual violence becomes less common (and domestic violence, too!) if drinking becomes less popular over time.

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      1. msnewleaf

        I used to work with DV survivors, and the nights that their significant others were drunk were always the nights that were most dangerous. For some of them, I often felt that they would maybe just be garden variety assholes without the booze. Booze seems to give some people permission to act on their worst impulses even though they keep them mainly in check without it.

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  6. Mark Goodson

    Jim. I have to admit. Before getting sober, I didn’t have sex unless I was drunk. It turns out my drinking history and my sex history were one in the same. It took a lot of work for me to make connections like these. Appreciated your post and insight. They really are both “heat of the moment” impulses, aren’t they?

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  7. nomorebeer2019

    I’m 100% with you on the whole thing ! Also with this: “If you need a drink before making love maybe you’re with the wrong person”. When I drank I had way more carefree/careless/exuberant/regretted/forgotten sexual encounters, but very few of them lead to any kind of real pleasure. Most of them felt almost like acting. At the time I thought it was cool and rock n’roll to do all that stuff, but as Claire mentioned higher up, all the boundaries (especially between want/don’t want and love/sex) were blurred by the booze. I can say with certainty that the QUALITY of my sex life has dramatically increased with sobriety. And so have my decision making abilities. Thanks for posting on this topic Jim !!! xxx Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Interesting how booze and sex interacted for you and some other women. For a lot of men it often seems there’s a different dynamic at work , a kind of “I need a drink to feel confident approaching women and/ or women who drink might be easier to shag” kind of mentality. I know that’s a gross generalisation but believe me, when I was younger those attitudes were definitely around with some guys. For me it was more straightforward, I was shy around women and booze gave me a confidence boost. I now realise that was a mistaken belief and if had just trusted myself I would have been fine. Glad you now enjoy quality Anne.
      Jim x

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  8. jacquelyn3534

    My almost 16 year old daughter asked me recently why do people drive drunk and put themselves and others in so much harm? I paused a minute and said, “Well dear, because they drank and when you drink it changes your brain and their brain now cannot rationalize to not get behind that wheel. They now think they are capable of driving.” She really seemed to rationalize that quite well. I also went on to add that some of the things she has heard that have happened at parties all had one thing in common, alcohol. Would they have happened if there was no alcohol there? She seemed to rationalize that quite well too. I totally get she’s got a huge life to explore but I sure am going to try my best to influence her decision making! So far, so good! Great post and insightful facts I will send with my senior daughter as she heads to college next year!

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Good on you. It’s quite scary when you think of all the potentially harmful things that young people have to negotiate especially when, like alcohol, they are seen as important rites of passage for young people. Sounds like your daughter is asking some great questions! Jim x

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