My partner won’t have sober sex with me


Dear Cat,

I met my girlfriend three months ago when we were both working in a rock n’roll nightclub together. Alcohol was always flowing, it was party central and we would always have drinks together after work. We hooked up the second time we met and had the hottest sex ever. Everything happened so fast and she was so wild in bed!

We moved in together in June three weeks after we first met. After living together a while I’ve started to clue in that she is never sober when we get down n’ dirty.  I thought cos of work that when we lived together we could have nice Sunday or Monday morning slow loving sober sex but it hasn’t happened.  She always has at least a few drinks before getting it on with me or maybe more.  One time I suggested getting it on and it was a Sunday arvo. She went to the bottlo and came back sculling tequila straight from the bottle. The sex was mind blowing but I felt weird about it.

I suggested we both do dry July to have a break from alcohol but she only lasted one week.

If she’s sober she isn’t interested in me sexually at all. No affection or nothing. She won’t fuck me, touch me or even pash me. It sucks and I feel unattractive.

She broke her dry July because she couldn’t hack it and our sex celibate spell ended.

Is there something wrong with me that she needs to get drunk to have sex with me?

I thought she was a “wild child” but I think maybe she’s insecure and anxious but maybe it’s me? She doesn’t seem to be able to talk about her feelings to me.



Hi Jen,

Thanks for getting in touch and sharing with us so honestly.  I can really feel your confusion and hurt about this and it must be a challenging time. It’s surprinsingly common that a lot of people struggle to have sober sex but there’s ways to solve this. I’m sure there’s a lot of people reading this that can relate to your experience.

In most of the instances I’ve come across like this, it’s usually nothing to do with your personally. The fact she can’t talk about her emotions with you is quite typical in people that use addictive behaviours to cope. Addictive use of drugs, alcohol or food can a smokescreen to avoid intimacy and looking within, getting too close or being too vulnerable.

It sounds like the sexual side of the relationship moved very fast before you knew each other very well and you’ve moved in very quickly together. This can be quite typical for someone with addictive behaviours and I will  talk more about that later.

Your partner is using alcohol to mask the deeper problems that aren’t allowing her to have sober sex with you. These are usually her own personal problems that interweave her use of alcohol in with her sex life and feeling vulnerable.

I’d love for you to come see me in person in my Sydney rooms or via skype to work through these issues. This would enable us to get to the bottom of what’s motivating the drinking before sex behaviour so we can overcome it.

Alcohol can relax us and make us lose our inhibitions. Some people rely on alcohol to “self medicate” themselves for their anxiety, fears or give themselves a false sense of confidence. It’s worrying to hear how your girlfriend is always using alcohol as a crutch to enable her to be sexual with you.

In our sessions together I would work with your partner with specific exercises where she can feel relaxed, less anxious and more confident without any drugs involved. These engage her unconscious and calm down her anxiety.  You can then do these exercises together to help you get in the right head state before intimacy occurs without relying on alcohol. We can also talk about creating the right mood and atmosphere before sex occurs for her to feel relaxed and comfortable.

I would like to explore her sexual history and previous sexual experiences in our sessions together to understand more what’s going on. Does she have any shame or trauma surrounding her sexuality or sexual expression? How is her self esteem and sexual self esteem?

The research shows us that women who are anxious, worried about or averse to sex, are more likely to drink. A Canadian study found a direct correlation with anxious, over stressed personality traits and being motivated to drink alcohol in order to cope better.

A study from the University of Washington concluded that people were much more likely to partake in risky sexual behaviour when they were drunk if they were people that generally experienced sexual fear, insecurity and were sexually averse.

If she’s using alcohol to escape sexual trauma then please get in touch with me to book some confidential sessions.

Alcohol can numb the sexual experience. Wasted sex  avoids intimacy and stays slightly disconnected with your partner. Alcohol abuse is a way people can escape true intimacy.

Perhaps talk about how amazing sober sex is with her and frame it in a positive light. Tell her you’d rather wait to have sex with her when you’re both sober as it’s going to be so much more enjoyable.

So many people these days confuse intimacy with sex and think that by having sex with a new partner they can create emotional relationship intimacy that they crave.  This never works because sex only creates an illusion that intimacy is there. Once the smoke fades the partners realise there’s no intimacy that they were ultimately searching for and it can leave you feeling lacking. Intimacy is a slow process that has to be worked on as you slowly get to know each other.

Being vulnerable to each other builds intimacy as you trust each other and open up to each other more and more. People with addiction issues have impaired the skill of intimacy. They’ll struggle with sharing deep sides of themselves, listening to feedback and unconditionally accepting their partner.

If your girlfriend had difficulty learning to trust as she grew up and her parents or caregivers didn’t provide a safe and trusting space for her,  this can make her overly protective and struggle to trust others. When this mistrust is present in our adult life it can make attaining intimacy in a relationship very hard. This might mean they get straight into a sexual relationship with someone without getting to know the other person emotionally first. It sounds like this is exactly what you’ve done. Sex straight away. Moving in together very fast. Realising you don’t know her.

When someone has been addicted to something like alcohol or drugs for a long time, they’re usually hiding from their reality and their true emotions. I’m concerned about the alcohol abuse and addicitive behaviours and how this would be affecting her physical health and your relationship. It’s a bad long term plan.

The good news is that in psychotherapy sessions you can build true intimacy together and it can be so exciting as you discovering things about each other that you may have been in denial about.

The below diagram explains a little about what I’ve been speaking about but I’d like to go into this with you in more details in our sessions.



Art- Almos Bechtold

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