Being Naked When You’re Sober Is Hard, Damn It

Of course, when you’ve been in a relationship with someone for awhile, sober sex is really not that big a deal. You love each other, know each other, know and adore each other’s various bumps and crevices. And sometimes it still takes awhile, still takes having a glass of wine or two or turning the lights of, before you’re fully comfortable with each other. But having sex with someone for the first time ever, sober, is crazy nerve-wracking — you’re looking at them and they’re looking at you and you feel a weird combination of scared and turned on and electrocuted but you’ll be damned if you tell them to stop. In other words, you clearly definitely want each other and can’t even blame it on the whiskey. It’s 100% honest.

Sober sex is a tricky monster. On the one hand, it can be the most amazing thing you’ve ever experienced, every touch, every sensation made sharper by complete hyperconsciousness; on the other, it can be one of the most horrifying — the stark, strange realness of the beautiful inexplicable human body, smacking you straight in the face and demanding you pay attention.

And the main reason I’ve been avoiding it is because being naked sober is hard, damn it. At least for me it is — I still have all the body issues I had as a teenager, only now I’m able to identify them. I even pulled all the sheets off the bed in horror and collapsed under them when my boyfriend walked by as I was exiting the bathroom naked less than two weeks ago (yes, I’m that much of an insecure freak). So if I’m totally sober and showing you my body, you must be pretty effing special. I don’t like what my stomach/ass/thighs look like but I’m going to let you undress me because I trust you that much. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t — I’m not really someone who has a problem saying no.

I know all this in theory, but I never realized how totally unprepared I was to do it until I slept with someone in AA. I never realized how much I relied on dousing my nerves prior to getting intimate until I didn’t have the option, how much I wasn’t used to getting acquainted with a human body without blurring the lines first. But this time, besides the blue Christmas lights emitting a cool fuzzy glow in the darkness of her room, nothing was blurred. I was blatantly, painfully, aware.

And terrified. It’s not like she took my clothes off just to take them off, get them out of the way. She genuinely wanted to see my body. She was running her hands over my curves, deliberately examining my tattoos and all I wanted to do was be like “Nope, nothing to see here!” and dive under a blanket. And then I realized sober sex was probably really strange for her too; she was probably just as nervous as I was, if not more. So I relaxed and I let her.

You know when someone undresses you and looks at you, really looks at you, and you have no choice but to be nothing but yourself in front of them, stripped bare in more ways than one? And it’s scary because it’s so truthful. It’s so just… there. Instead of your eyes rolling back in your sockets in a vague hazy ecstasy, you’re forced to open them, really open them and connect with the person whose hands are on you. You’re totally transparent, and if you’re someone who tends to go through life with a perpetual poker face, that’s when you’re vulnerable.

And you feel all kinds of things. What usually feels like some blind searching nebulous friction on your nether regions when you’re drunk is sharp, salient, and completely deliberate when you’re sober. You can’t help but feel. Every muscle contraction has a meaning; you hear the intonations, the significance of every sharp intake of breath. And it can be really powerful, knowing exactly what you’re doing. Being conscious and saying “I want you exactly the way you are” is a really powerful thing. And needless to say, a huge relief – there’s no chance of being surprised at who you wake up to the next morning. Which is one less thing to freak out about when you’re done and start overanalyzing what just happened. TC mark

image – Matty Dread

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  • GUEST

    No, it’s not hard to be naked when you’re sober.

    It is hard to do anything when you need liquid courage to get over your own self-confidence issues.

    • womp

      easy there

    • Charlotte

      Whoa, Judgy McJudgy pants. How about taking the holier-than-thou condescension elsewhere?

      • ATL

        She’s kidding. You’re kidding, right?

      • Charlotte

        Who’s kidding, exactly?

      • GUEST

        I have another word for someone who has to lovingly write about the few times they’ve been sober while having sex.

        An alcoholic.

      • Alex

        Yeah? Really? Did you deduce that from when she mentioned AA?

      • Guest

        calm down… why so serious

      • DontBeAnAss

        I have another word for someone who has to go out of their way to anonymous attack other people over they don’t know.

        A very small person.

    • Beeee

      WORD!

  • Guest

    i read this and started to cry. having never been drunk and never had sex, i may not be able to relate to this at all really, but at the same time i can relate 100%. thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/scottneyspears Scott

      oh.

  • Charlotte

    It’s true. I still can’t sleep with someone for the first time without a few drinks in me. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough. Nice piece.

  • berna fett

    Getting naked with someone for the first time isn’t the easiest & most comfortable task for everyone, you know. But I guess congratulations for soberly exploring your bi-curiosity & for possibly cheating on your boyfriend. Ambiguity is the enemy of prose.

    • Mila Jaroniec

      LOL you haven’t read me before, have you..

      • berna fett

        Of course not. Don’t flatter yourself.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003197905700 Alix Harvey

        I like when people are rude on the internet it’s super becoming.

      • Boo

        woah.. what part of this offended you? seems like something must have struck a chord..

      • http://twitter.com/mrwildflowers Jesse S.

        God, you’re a prick. But you’re kind of right.

      • Karlycatherine

         But you just DID read her..I highly doubt random internet trolls are high up on her list of folks she’d like to read her work. Link us to yours, as we’d all just LOVE to hear your thrilling tales of monogamy and vanilla sex.

    • dawn_s_99@yahoo.com

      i thought it was a good sign o’ the times that she mixed up pronouns and didn’t even feel the need to clarify the situation.

    • Guest

      There’s a shitload of unwarranted and assumptions right there, 
      slut-shaming style! 

      Christ, people. 

    • Karlycatherine

       Boy, between you and guest number one I’m sure the writer just feels like a steaming pile of shit right now!  I’m with Charlotte, what with all the judgmental snarkiness coming from everybody?

    • Anais

      Surely you’ve heard of ethical nonmonogamy before, Berna?

  • Katie

    I really liked this piece. Nice work.

  • Alicia

    Why is everyone getting pissed off.. hahah.

  • Jesshwv

    I wish so many people didn’t feel this way; I always feel guilty when I sleep with someone who’s drunk and I’m sober.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003197905700 Alix Harvey

    “You know when someone undresses you and looks at you, really looks at you, and you have no choice but to be nothing but yourself in front of them, stripped bare in more ways than one? And it’s scary because it’s so truthful. It’s so just… there. Instead of your eyes rolling back in your sockets in a vague hazy ecstasy, you’re forced to open them, really open them and connect with the person whose hands are on you. You’re totally transparent, and if you’re someone who tends to go through life with a perpetual poker face, that’s when you’re vulnerable.”
    Beautiful. As someone with similar issues, this was an amazing and truthful piece.

  • http://artfeedsmia.blogspot.com/ mia nguyen

    This post made me miss someone, a lot.

  • guest

    This is beautiful. I’m glad i’m not the only one.

  • Leila

    This is me. Thank you. 

  • Guest

    you need to listen to the savage love postcast.

  • http://twitter.com/alainalatona alainalatona

    I love everything about this. I was smiling while I read it.

  • Anais

    This is a beautiful piece.  Thanks for being one of the brave nonmono writers out there. 

  • Jan9283


    I know all this in theory, but I never realized how totally unprepared I was to do it until I slept with someone in AA.” Can someone tell me what’s AA is? /:

    • http://twitter.com/esther_mk Esther MK

      Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Beeee

    Why do you need to be messed up to be naked? Are you THAT insecure with your body..I feel sorry for you!

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