Alcohol And Relationships: How Intimacy Changes When You Get Sober

Alcohol And Relationships

Alcohol And Relationships… The Big Impact

One of the biggest things alcohol addiction effects is your relationships, and a big factor in relationships is sex and intimacy.

It’s also one of the biggest areas of improvements in your life once you get sober.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lied, stolen, or stabbed friends in the back, the real you comes back with sobriety when alcohol is no longer acting on your behalf.

It’s really hard to maintain healthy relationships, if not impossible. It’s also easier to maintain unhealthy relationships without even realizing you’re doing it.

Relationships while in recovery are tricky.

Sometimes, you are avoiding intimacy and connection. Sometimes, getting sober opens your eyes to the feelings you were trying to dull or block, to begin with.

If you’re sober and not drinking to forget, then all you have left to do is think about why.

Read on to discover why that’s a good thing and how relationships and intimacy change after sobriety.

Angry Woman

Link Between Alcoholism and Intimacy

Intimacy is like the missing link; it’s the thing people are less likely to think about.

But, people who are newly sober may find it difficult to restore past relationships and start new ones. Any kind of drug abuse whether it be alcohol or something else leads to a life filled with secrets and isolation.

Many people who are struggling with alcoholism are not drinking because they want to be more social or perhaps help their shyness.

For most, it’s about problem drinking. This is something that gradually develops without any intention but as a way of coping with the stresses of life. Here are some signs that you might be more of a problem drinker

  • Withdrawing from family and friends to drink alone
  • It may cause you to miss work or perform poorly at work
  • Turning to alcohol at the slightest stressor
  • Feeling like you need to drink in order to feel like yourself
  • Unable to enjoy yourself without alcohol

This helps short-term but hurts you long term. Although you may feel better at the moment you are risking your emotional and mental health. Don’t risk it.

Problem drinking also leads to liver problems like cirrhosis, and it develops over time silently. You may not notice until it’s too late.

As far as intimacy, once the alcohol starts to take over your life there won’t be a whole lot of room for anyone else. And, if you get to the recovery stage you will still have to work hard at getting back the same level of intimacy you had before.

Should You Start New Relationships During Recovery?

When you choose to get sober, it’s normally suggested you don’t end any marriage or serious relationship no matter how rocky things seem in the here and now.

It’s also recommended if you aren’t in a relationship to not to seek one out. The reason for that seems to be that those of us addicted to alcohol or drugs have been avoiding reality.

Avoiding those that love us most.

Hurting those that love us most.

If you think about it, when anyone starts a new relationship it’s sort of like a drug. All your focus is on that new person. They are all you think about.

But, this is a time where you should be focusing on yourself. Not forming any co-dependency or relationships to fill any voids.

Although nobody experiences getting sober in the same way, it’s common to have to re-learn how to handle the many of the struggles life throws at us.

And, how to handle it sober.

Relationships are going to change when you get sober just like they changed over the years it took to become addicted alcohol. It may feel all over the place as you or your loved one start to get sober.

Here are a few ways relationships can change after getting sober

  • Without alcohol to cope and numb feelings, partners may speak up more
  • If they experience depression during the early part of sobriety, it may affect you

Whether it’s intimate relationships, your kids, or friends there is no way to escape the memories and the pain that some of them bring up.

Those closest to you in your life are going to find it hard to trust you, and although you probably feel overwhelmed, it’s up to you to prove the trust is there.

Am I An Alcoholic?

Am I An Alcoholic?

Getting Sober

Getting sober and relationships are not exactly two of the easiest things to do in the world, but you have many resources beyond the conventional AA or 12-step recovery method.

If you’ve tried those ways in the past and they didn’t work or you don’t want to try them, you have other options.

You can try a free webinar to learn about the many misconceptions you may have about getting sober. There is also an online course where you can get support in more ways than just one.

Loneliness is a big factor in recovery and also in being addicted to alcohol. It’s important to have a support system. If your family and loved ones aren’t’ there you have to let the people who are helping you help you.

Or, you have to let yourself help yourself. So you can live again and feel what it’s like to be you again.

Sex and Sobriety After Recovery

Things will change in your sex life whether you’re already in a relationship or when you begin a new one.

You’re probably going to find you won’t want to date or be with the same people you’re used to dating. Some of that has to do with uncovering the real you again and realizing what you want.

Not easy when you’re never sober.

Obviously we all know we don’t make the best choices when drinking, and that especially goes for sex if you’re single.

Warning to the single ladies: you may have to start buying your own drinks.

Before we talk about the ways sobriety benefits your sex life let’s go over a few things that alcohol hinders intimacy

Here are some of the ways sex improves after getting sober

  • Improved self-esteem
  • Greater sensations
  • More likely to orgasm
  • Less impulsive

Let’s get to the main here. Everything just feels better. You feel more.

Clean And Sober

Clean And Sober Mocktail

And who doesn’t want that?

When you’re drinking a lot you are numbing your feelings so what do you think happens when you’re intimate?

Your feelings are going to be dulled. Both emotional and physical.

You’re more likely to say yes to the right woman or the right man when sober. Or, more likely to say no if need be.

Having better sex is a major benefit of sobriety for both men and women.

Existing Relationships While in Recovery

In order to have better sex if you’re already in a relationship, you’ll have to work on improving that relationship. This is going to take hard work.

You have to give the people you’ve hurt the same empathy they gave to you during your addiction to alcohol.

This is one of the hardest parts of relationships while in recovery.

Support is an important part of sobriety. Not having a solid support system can make a difference in your outcome.  You can repair relationships if you put in the work.

But, everyone took a different path to alcoholism and everyone finds their way back in a different way.

So not all relationships are going to be affected the same way which is why AA or the 12 step process may not always be the best solution. There is no one way to get clean and stay clean.

Depending on how damaged your relationships are is going to determine what you can and can’t do.

Here are some ways you can improve your relationships during recovery

  •  Make your sobriety a priority first
  • Take things slow
  • Always act with empathy during conflicts
  • Be upfront with anyone new about your sobriety
  • Talk openly with your partner even if they’ve never been addicted to alcohol
  • Prepare to have bad days with your partner and good days
  • Make stability a goal

A big one is to not let yourself get held down by overwhelming guilt. If you focus on feeling guilty for the things you’ve done or said, you will feel so much pressure it will be unbearable.

The pressure is the last thing you need when trying to maintain sobriety.

Another important aspect of recovering relationships while in recovery is communication. Communication is important in any relationship.

Man Drinking Alone

Man Drinking Alone

Communication is important

Healthy communication means asking questions and conquering difficult subjects instead of stuffing them deep down just so you can be resentful later. Here are some tips on improving communication in relationships during recovery

  • Be open about how your experience has affected you
  • Accept responsibility without shame
  • Focus on listening whether you are newly sober or you love a recovering alcoholic
  • Be aware of physical posture
  • Watch the tone of your voice
  • Don’t talk about the future in the past tense talk with hope for a new kind of future

If there is something your partner can do to help, or maybe even something you prefer them to not do, then tell them.

Above all, if you come to the realization you haven’t got someone who is willing to understand as best as they can then you have to take care of yourself.

Sometimes taking care of yourself means eliminating people from your life that are familiar but toxic.

It’s going to take time. A lot of tears. And, a whole lot of love to come back from what they’ve been through if they stood by you the whole time.

And, if they didn’t they may experience feelings of guilt or regret as they watch you work hard to better your life.

Loving a Recovering Alcoholic

If you’re here to read up on how to help your loved one get sober or how to help them cope with their newfound sobriety on the hard days, then good for you.

Relationships while in recovery aren’t going to be easy just because your loved one is sober now. Relationships won’t be any easier for them either now that they’re sober.

It’s still going to take a lot of commitment and work to get past the past.

And to move towards the future.

Your partner is already on their way by getting sober, you have to decide for you if you want to go with them or go your separate ways.

If you do choose to stay, here are some things to know about loving a recovering alcoholic

  • It’s never your fault
  • Recognize moments of weakness where your partner might relapse
  • Don’t enable behavior you feel is wrong due to their past alcoholism
  • Express empathy and compassion

Whether you have enabled them in the past or gave them tough love they don’t understand yet doesn’t matter during the early stages. They may be hurt at how you handled things if you gave them tough love but you will have plenty of time to show them it all came from a good place.

Stop Drinking Expert Website

Stop Drinking Expert Website

Taking action

Whether your family has encouraged you or you’ve pushed yourself to get sober, you are doing the right thing to live a better life. Relationships while in recovery aren’t easy with others and it isn’t easy to find yourself again either.

You’ll get to know the self that you lost and the new self you’ve gained through your experiences.

If you want to learn about other ways to get sober click here to join today’s FREE quit drinking webinar.

Or if you prefer an offline solution click here for details of our international quit drinking Bootcamp.

Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert

About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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