Watching Sex and the City repeats; popping bubble wrap; watching Sex and the City repeats while popping bubble wrap – these are just some of the things made a little more fun after a glass of bubbly (or four).
Most of us don’t head home after a night on the sauce to pop a box set, though. No, we’re doing much racier things… while naked… with a friend. But what happens when it gets to the point where you actually need alcohol to get the fires burning? Because for one in 10 couples that’s the inescapable truth, according to a recent UK study which found that 11 per cent of us can’t seem to have sex sober. And get this: that’s more than the percentage of the population who are left-handed.
Liquor as lubrication:
That’s just the tip of the tipsy iceberg, too. Dig deeper and we discover 66 per cent of study participants said they’re never in the mood when sober, while 61 per cent said booze made them more confident. But what’s the real reason behind us downing bottles of Breezers before hitting the boudoir?
“I think alcohol is simply known in society as being a bit of a sex trigger and enabler,” says sexologist and sex therapist Amanda Joy Robb.
“Advertising campaigns for alcoholic products are saturated in sex, while Hollywood movies and TV shows by and large use alcohol in lovemaking scenes. We have this idea that a glass of wine or a few beers gives us ‘Dutch courage’ in the bedroom,” she explains. “I think people have been conditioned to believe it’s an essential part of any sexual experience.”
Cosmo reader Kat, 30, agrees. “I once tried to re-create that scene from Body of Evidence* where Madonna pours champagne all over the guy’s, um, privates, but I sampled so much of it beforehand that I passed out and then had to clean the sticky sheets the next day. Ugh, total disaster.”
But inebriated accidents aside, does a drink or two actually help you ditch inhibitions, or should you icksnay the drinking altogether?
Impose a booze ban?
The answer, it seems, is all shades of grey (the cryptic kind, not the S&M kind). There are pros to quaffing a wine or two, of course; the diminishing of inhibitions for a start. Do I want to try your sex swing? I can’t see why not!
Robb agrees that if the escapade blows your hair back, go nuts. “As long as you have control over what you’re doing, and feel you can make safe and healthy sexual choices, then sure, go for it,” she says. The problem occurs when you just can’t fathom sexy times without it. Not that you would be alone – 48 per cent of all study participants admitted it had been at least one month since they last had sex without alcohol. Although Robb says this is usually more common in a newly minted couple than an established duo.
“Often a new couple still in the dating phase get to know each other over a few drinks. It’s not uncommon to set up dates in pubs, bars or over a bottle of wine at dinner,” says Robb. “But be careful – if having a drink to engage in sex is a way a couple have conditioned their sex life, it can become a habit that’s hard to break.”
And that’s also where we can slide into the danger zone. If you find yourself doing something when drunk that you’d never contemplate doing clear-headed, you have stumbled over the line from pleasant to perilous.
“Slugging back booze is a short-term fix for sexual confidence,” agrees Robb. “Most of the time it leads people into sexual situations that are more problematic than pleasurable.”
Calling last orders:
The answer: hop up on the wagon and forego the fermented grapes altogether, reckons psychologist Victoria Kasunic.
“Sex while sober is usually better from both a physical and psychological perspective – we’re more present and tuned in to our senses, and therefore more aware of all the sensations. Psychologically and emotionally, you’re more aware of your own needs as well as your partner’s, so it’s often experienced as more intimate.”
You hear that?! More intimate: bad for crowded trains, great for sexual relations. “Generally speaking, alcohol doesn’t improve your libido – it has the opposite effect – which is why people report that drunken sex is not good sex,” continues Kasunic.
Drunk in love:
Instead of reaching for the bottle to get in the mood, Kasunic recommends, “Work on spending quality time together prior to sex to increase intimacy and help get things started.” And no – for the record, watching half a season of Game of Thrones together doesn’t count as quality time.
“Try a bath or massage together instead to help set the mood,” suggests Robb. “And talk to each other – it will help you feel less nervous sexually if you know what each of you needs.”
And failing that, no one’s ever said anything about no more Pony by Ginuwine (on repeat – give it a burl). You might just find it’s the only “wine” you need.