I found this bit of radical dating advice:
“If you don’t want to date a drunk, then don’t go shopping at the drunk store.”
It was a note in a folder called “Advice for The Girls,” comprised of messages I wanted to remember so I could convey them to my daughters when they got older. I wrote it years ago after a break up with someone I’d met at a bar (who I realized was a functional alcoholic).
It isn’t advice I’d always followed myself.
Growing up, I was always told that men want only one thing (implying sex but even that wasn’t explicitly named). I was shamed into believing that it wasn’t okay if I, a young woman, should want to have sex. This messaging is so ingrained into our culture, the only way I could comfortably get out from under it was to find a way to release my inhibitions.
Many of my first sexual experiences were fueled by alcohol and poor choices. I know I’m not alone. Lots of other people use alcohol to escape The Rules as well. (Check out the Drunk American Girl Mating Call).
But it’s not only single folks who do this. A friend once shared with me that she and her husband were not able to have sex unless they were altered or enhanced in some way. Their substances of choice were usually a combination of weed and booze. She couldn’t recall a time when it wasn’t that way. I suspect an informal poll would reveal similar information with other friends as well.
Sex can be intimidating. There are all those uncomfortable and raw feelings that sexual intimacy brings up. Sex exposes insecurities and vulnerabilities– that can be scary! Alcohol takes away that edge. Maybe even some of that fear.
Because asking about STI test results from a new partner is hella awkward
Even talking about sex with a spouse you’ve been with for years can be difficult.
Then add to that trying to figure out how to ask for what you want. An added layer of complexity if you’re not even sure what you want.
If no one explains to you how magical and connected you can feel to another person, conversations around sex can seem like taking a voyage out to sea during a storm with navigation equipment on the fritz. How could you even do that??
If you’re anything like me, you want better for your kids.
This is where this radical dating advice for my daughters came in.
I want my kids to be able to have a connection with a partner, not to be coerced into anything they’re not ready for or wanting. I suggested they avoid adding alcohol while they’re having their first sexual experiences. Alcohol removes inhibitions but it makes true consent a little messy. Consider these questions a teen might ask themselves when they’re in the moment – if they even pause when alcohol is involved(!):
- “Do I really want to have sex right now or is this the alcohol talking?”
- “Is my partner tipsy right now? Are they able to consent?” and
- “If I proceed, will we regret things in the morning, or worse, will I have raped someone?”
If the answer to either of those questions is “I don’t know”, then the behavior should stop. And you can tell your kids not to worry if they think that’s the only chance they’ll get to have sex; it’s not. If they’re with someone who cares about them, there will be other opportunities.
This doesn’t have to be tough.
For real. We want our kids to have healthy relationships, right? Sex is not the most important thing to talk to them about. What is? Dating, love, and relationships. You know, the stuff that typically comes before the sex part. Otherwise, we might have kids thinking sex is the ultimate goal.
If we want our kids to be safe, it’s okay to tell them that sex and alcohol aren’t a good mix. As you can see, this really isn’t radical dating advice. It’s common sense.
p.s., What advice do YOU wish you had when you were a kid? What advice have you given already? Drop it in the comments below.