Social lubrication

I had invited a boy over from Grindr.

He’d been ready to go for weeks, but when I finally acquiesced one night in late September, I did so only after I got high enough to cool my nerves. It’s not that he wasn’t cute (he certainly was), but normally, I’m too anxious for hook-ups like that.

I told him immediately that I didn’t want to have full penetrative sex, mostly because I was feeling tired and high. A make-out, probably? He narrowed his eyes and snorted. His disregard annoyed me a lot, so much so that it wholly reinforced my resolve not to have sex with him. But he wouldn’t let it rest.

I usually do what my partner wants, not necessarily always what I want. My partner’s consent is important to me, and I take it seriously — but when I’m face to face with a partner, I often give my own up pretty fast and loose. In the moment, with this guy raring to go, sober Justin probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to reinforce his boundaries. But doped up as I was, I had no problem saying “no” over and over. I’ve found inebriation lets me ask for exactly what I want far better than sobriety.

Before he left, I admonished him for his gross behavior and told him never to push anyone’s boundaries like he’d tried to push mine. He got what he deserved: an accidental hickey I’d given him while he droned on that I “wasn’t being fair.” It was the nastiest, biggest, darkest stain I’d ever seen.

Sobriety can sometimes have its own potent effects. In spite of much of the well-founded and necessary discourse surrounding the relationship between enthusiastic consent and inebriation, I often find that I have much more difficulty saying “no” when I’m sober. I think I might just be wired backwards.

About a month after that incident, I went to a house party and found myself near the point of blacking out. I vaguely remember meeting a potential fling, walking up stairs and then the feeling of his hands way too tightly around my thighs. I growled and recoiled from him. He seemed anxious at first, as I gave him a guarded once-over and took stock of my surroundings, but his face relaxed when I just laughed and said I was bored. I told him not to to worry, I just didn’t want to hook up with him. Before he left, he asked if we could see each other some other time, and I vaguely nodded.

I was specifically craving the sense of validation that comes from being chosen out of a crowd. It feels hot to feel wanted and play hard to get. We both walked back to the party and then parted ways. The rest of the party was really fun, from what I remember. I woke up the next morning in yet another guy’s bed — I think I did have pretty good sex with this one — to a friend request from whom I presume might be the first guy from earlier that night.

I remember that night fondly, and it still makes me laugh. I really love being messy in the bedroom, and I don’t think it could’ve possibly been the same without being adequately drunk.

I’ve always wanted my sex life to look a very particular way. I want to enjoy as many exploits as I can while I’m young and sprightly. It would be impossible for me, given my sexual and romantic anxieties, to open up to the experiences I’ve had if I stayed sober.  

That’s not to say I regret anything I’ve done. In fact, I have loved every minute of every exploit. I revel in my own sexual history. I relish the forgetting of names and faces and other trivial details that comes with intoxication. I convince myself that the sex was better than it actually was and that the story was worth the experience. My sex life thus far has felt messy and correct.

As I get older, though, I find that a gap is beginning to bridge. I have far less anxieties about sex, and I’m far less reliant on alcohol for sex. I’ve had enough notches on my belt to feel confident in the relationships I forge. I’m also having better sex. I’m definitely better at sex.

I’m satisfied with all of my messy choices. Here’s to making more.

Contact Justin at [email protected]. Tweet him at @jknightlion.