By Cheryl Steinberg
Being in recovery from alcohol and/or drug addiction means learning a whole new way of life, one of sobriety. And what that entails is having a whole new and different experience when it comes to things you have already previously experienced. One area of life in particular that will be completely new and different is your sober sex life. Now, just because you are sober does not mean that you will have a healthy sex life. It takes work and introspection in order to develop a healthy sober sex life. Here are 15 characteristics of a healthy sober sex life.
#1. You express your sexuality in ways that are congruent with your values
So, for example, in your active addiction, you might have slept around or even prostituted yourself to support your habit. As a sober adult, your values might include being monogamous or more discriminating when it comes to choosing your sexual partners. You also might not think that prostitution is a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, an indication that your sober sex life is healthy is that you are basically practicing what you preach, or in this case, what you believe to be right and good.
#2. You can enjoy sexual feelings without always acting on them
Another characteristic of a healthy sober sex life is that you can experience feeling turned on, maybe it’s intimate thoughts about your partner, without having to act out. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
#3. You know the difference between life-enhancing sexual behaviors and those that are harmful to self or others
This one leads into the next item on the list but, it basically means that you have a healthy attitude towards sex – which can include kinky thoughts and behaviors – as long as it doesn’t hurt or cause harm to anyone else. Sex is always consensual and respects the wants, needs, and beliefs of your partner.
#4. You express your sexuality while at the same time respecting the rights of others
This means that you have an understanding and respect towards all people, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity. You do not have to share their beliefs but you respect them all the same.
#5. You seek out new information in order to enhance your sexuality
Whether it’s learning about new sexual positions or other ways to spice us your sex life, such as trying out role play, a healthy sober sex life means that you are interested in expanding your understanding about sex, sexuality, and sexual pleasure.
#6. You engage in sexual relationships that are consensual, non-exploitative, honest, and pleasurable
This also includes having sexual relationships in which you exercise protection against disease and unwanted pregnancy; you are knowledgeable regarding reproduction and risks.
#7. Your intimate relationships have components of affection, tenderness, and companionship
Again, this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to cuddle if you’re just not the cuddling type. But, it does mean that, whatever affection looks like for you and your partner, it’s present in your relationship.
#8. You’re able to attach emotions and meaning to sexual experiences
No longer is sex about meaningless hook-ups, a healthy sober sex life involves sexual encounters in which you can find meaning and experience emotions.
#9. You have an appreciation for your own body
Having sexual health means that you are comfortable with your body and with your sexuality. It means that you are confident enough to tell your partner what you do and don’t like and with asking them to perform certain things that bring you pleasure.
#10. You understand that natural human development includes sexual development
For example, it is completely natural that the body is built for reproduction, and that you and/or your partner will experience things like menstruation and PMS. Also, you understand that genital sexual experiences differ from person to person and are willing to learn about your current sexual partner’s turn-ons and turn-offs.
#11. You appropriately express love and intimacy
Again, this looks different for everybody. But, generally speaking, you are not cold or distant with your sexual partner. You are connected emotionally with them.
#12. You develop and maintain meaningful relationships while avoiding exploitative or manipulative ones
In your relationships, there are no mind games, power plays, having the upper-hand, etc.
#13. Your sex life includes components of communication and acceptance of love
The key to successful relationships boils down to one main thing: communication. A healthy sober sex life means being open, honest, and respectful with your partner. It also means that you are willing to accept love as much as you give it.
#14. You express emotion and are into giving and receiving pleasure
Sex is not a one-sided experience. Therefore, it’s about both parties receiving pleasure. Also, a healthy sex life involves the ability to experience and express emotions. This will deepen the experience for both you and your partner.
#15. You have the ability to enjoy sex without feelings of guilt, fear, or shame
Sex and human sexuality are natural to the human experience. After all, we are sexual beings. A healthy sober sex life means having the ability to enjoy sex without a twisted, distorted perception that it is somehow dirty or bad.
If you are experiencing substance abuse or addiction, it’s time to do something about it. The good news is that there is help available in the form of highly specialized treatment. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.