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Relationships and dating: Is drunk sex the new normal?
Oddly enough, I remember the first time I had sex completely drunk. It was at a friend’s pool party, and I had just won a beer-pong tournament. (Translation: I was hammered.) After being crowned victorious, I drunkenly whispered to the girl I liked, asking her to meet me in my friend’s mom’s bedroom for a celebratory hookup. I put a lot of pressure on our first time because I’d liked this girl since, well, forever. The booze afforded me a disguise— the mask of confidence. And we did it—sort of. I was clumsy, fumbled into areas I didn’t belong and eventually faked orgasm. At one point, she uttered, “You find it, you’re the guy!” By the end I was defeated, sweaty and felt as tired as a Lana Del Rey record. My friend’s mom later found my underwear and hat in her bed and hand-delivered both (washed, strangely enough). I’m nothing like the confident Christian Grey—that day, I was fifty shades of red.
Sex is a blade that cuts open our insecurities, both physically and emotionally. And booze serves as a handy excuse for singles. A “Whatever, I was drunk” defence. A getout- of-humiliation-free card that is used so often that we simply nod our heads in a “Been there, friend” way. After all, we millennials are known to be selfish beings (#FirstWorldProblems). Nothing’s our fault.
I can honestly say that for 80 percent of my sometimes brief, sometimes agonizingly long sexual encounters, I’m intoxicated. And I’m not alone (despite how I feel in the morning). Almost everyone I know in their 20s is anywhere from tipsy to “white-girl wasted” before sex. If not, they’re in a relationship and spend their weekends streaming docs about the fast-food industry on Netflix. For singles, being drunk is—knowingly—the easiest way to get through “it.” I brought this up with my closest guy friends: Why are we seemingly addicted to sloppy drunk sex when it can be so embarrassing? “It’s always rougher, I last longer and I feel like a champ,” said my friend Kris—who, when not committed, hooks up often as a result of his persuasive, buzzed booty texts—before adding “and I feel less uncomfortable naked.” Another friend, Dan, our primary “drinker and doer” and resident ladies’ man, later announced: “Admit it: We all get a little nervous about the situation. I drink to relax. I don’t want to let her down.”
Read more about our desire for drunk sex on the next page …
Booze has become akin to Viagra for the twentysomething guy. Could it be that drinking is a selfless act performed by men to better pleasure women? (We want to last longer, be more confident and not disappoint our bedmate—we’re drinking for you, not
us!) Amid the much-talked-about hookup culture that has washed over North America in recent years, making dating seem like a thing of the past, is it surprising that alcohol has become a prop to get us over the awkwardness of bedding strangers? It’s called “liquid courage” for a reason.
Sex therapist Dr. Joy Davidson says that our excessive drinking is rooted in our desire to disconnect from people. “Let’s remember how many people in their 20s and 30s spend time in isolation behind a computer screen or smartphone. Meeting ‘real, live people’ has become more difficult than ever before, so alcohol is used to cope with this kind of social reluctance and anxiety,” she explains.
It’s ironic that social networks have left us twitchy about socializing. Naturally, some of us have turned to
cybersex and sexting: We type a few suggestive sentences, send a photo that was likely stolen off the Internet (or taken 20 pounds ago) and get off. Basically, I’m the typical millennial: I’m rarely without my MacBook or iPhone, and I find it difficult to approach a woman when I’m sober. “The effect of drinking on
sexual anxiety is what we could call stage two,” continues Davidson. “If someone ‘gets lucky’ after a social encounter, then the anxiety ramps up higher and the alcohol remains the crutch.
Continue to the next page to learn more about alcohol and social tension …
Stage two—an ominous descriptor since it’s often used with disease and alcoholism—starts with the sick feeling that sinks in as soon as it’s clear I’m going to score. I’m already sure I’ll disappoint her or embarrass myself. Before I unbuckle, questions start swirling around in my foggy head. Will I last long enough? Will I last too long? Am I of adequate size? Is she into manscaping? By then, it’s not clear if drinking will help me perform like a pro or leave me unable to perform.
We’re a generation that is
fearful of human interaction. A recent survey by Carsten Grimm, a researcher at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, found that people’s top-ranked enjoyable activities are sex (at number one) and drinking alcohol (at number two). Socializing came in seventh. Whether it’s the porn we have turned to or the fantasies we play out in text messages, it seems that we have further distanced ourselves from
having sex while simultaneously putting more pressure on performing. Drinking smooths the sharp edges of our nerves, gives us an excuse to behave badly and keeps us from emotionally opening ourselves to others—it’s a crutch I can’t help but lean on. Unless I grow out of it or find the “right person,” I see no clear end to the hazy habit.
But maybe booze just won’t cut it one day. Children now watch television on tablets while eating dinner in restaurants—our dependence on technology isn’t waning. Perhaps in the future, computers with removable appendages will render flesh-onflesh intimacy obsolete.
Sure, it’s extreme, but so are my generation’s insecurities about sex. Climaxing sober may be possible, but to most of us, it’s just not worth the risk of exposing our deepest insecurities. Not now. Not yet.