Successful recovery involves many things – motivation, therapeutic support, and a balanced lifestyle. Having loving, supportive friends and family is an important part of lasting recovery. It can be stressful to reintegrate back into your life of family, work and other routines and responsibilities. This also is true of romance and sexual intimacy. Many people in recovery can feel anxiety about reconnecting with their partners in an intimate way. Often times, people in recovery had sex mostly when intoxicated or high. Sex without alcohol or drugs can be anxiety-provoking. Their partners, too, might not be used to sex without their partners being under the influence.When reconnecting with your partner in your newfound sobriety or recovery you need to consider a few things that can help you have the kind of sexual connectedness that’s been missing.
Here are a few things to consider:
Keep your expectations in check. Expecting sex to be hot and satisfying in the beginning can set you up for disappointment and performance anxiety. Many people who start to have “eyes open sex” (when you’re trying to be fully present and connected with your partner) feel anxiety and can’t orgasm. You can be disappointed and dejected – which will only exacerbate the problem – or you can settle down and say to yourself, “We are just getting back to having a sexual relationship. Sex is new in many ways so I choose be patient with myself and get to know my partner again.” Our minds are our most powerful sex organ so be careful with what you say to yourself. Give yourself time to get to know your partner again – and how you feel about intimacy while sober. You may need to focus on strengthening romance and emotional intimacy before sexual intimacy is satisfying.
Manage Your Emotions In and Out of the Bedroom
Being able to soothe yourself when experiencing intense emotion – is critical when trying to reconnect sexually with your partner. It is not sexy when your anxiety overwhelms you or you can’t control your anger. This is also true outside of the bedroom. How you conduct yourself during everyday interactions makes a big difference when it comes to sexual desire. There’s nothing hotter than someone who can take responsibility for their emotions and soothe themselves. Most people in recovery have learned new ways to cope with their emotions. Utilize these new coping skills in and out of the bedroom.
Sexual Connection Re-wires the Brain
When we connect sexually, physically and emotionally, we are re-wiring the brain. In other words, new and positive romantic and sexual connection changes our brain. We can create new associations with sex – positive ones – especially if sex before was associated with negative things like binge-drinking, getting high, or infidelity. Just simply gazing into each other’s eyes can have a positive effect on your brain. Eye-gazing, touching tenderly, or connecting sexually while fully present are called “moments of meeting.” These moments of meeting, over time, can have a positive impact on our brains and can change how we view ourselves and ourselves in relationship. So, be patient with yourself, get to know your partner again – sexually and otherwise – utilize newly learned coping skills, and have moments of meeting with your partner. These things will help on your road to sexual reconnection and rekindling romance.
-Jennifer Sandoval, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist specializing in couple and sex therapy. www.DrJenSandov.com
About C.A.R.I.: C.A.R.I. provides guidance on intervention, detox, drug and alcohol rehab options in North County of San Diego, including the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos and Rancho Santa Fe. We help not only the people who struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, but also their families and loved ones. Our program accepts PPO insurance from insurance providers such as Cigna, Aetna, UBH, Optum, Magellan and Value.