Hi Yana,

I didn’t think this was a real problem or, that it was just me. I didn’t think about it until I got into an argument with my husband, when he said “Why don’t you have sex the way when you’re drunk, when you’re sober?!”

I really never thought about it till now. But it’s TRUE. Sex drunk is so much pleasurable than sober. I’m an overthinker. So, during sex I really try to focus. But it’s really hard. Some times it’s uncomfortable. Other times I just don’t feel anything.

He has a smaller penis and I know he’s self-conscious about it. But I just tell him “No, it’s fine.” I fake orgasm like 90% of the time. And most times I have to fantasize about me and him. I feel awful. Especially because I’m not in the mood to do it.

But I love him and he’s a good man. I’ve never had any traumas or been mistreated. I just genuinely don’t care for intercourse. I like cuddles and massages. Maybe because I don’t really get pretty or dress up. Most times I’m in comfy clothes and snacking. Maybe I should work on my self esteem and looks… sorry to have bothered you.

Thanks for listening,

Snacks Over Sex

Dear Snacks,

I think it says a lot about our societal brokenness that I have answered questions along the lines of “Why can I only have engaged/passionate/connected sex when I’m drunk?” perhaps more than any other question. To read more about my thoughts on this link between sex and drinking, check out past columns Why Can’t I Have Sex Without Drinking? (June 2016) and Am I Only Bisexual When I’m Drunk? (November 2019). The gist, essentially, is that drinking lowers inhibitions whether that’s chemically or, sometimes, perhaps, psychosomatically. And with lowered inhibitions comes, basically, less fucks given about what might be soberly holding you back from either having sex at all or, having the kinds of sex you genuinely, authentically would like to have.

While this provides the illusion that said issues holding you back have been solved, drinking is more of a cover-up than a solution and rarely addresses the core issues negatively influencing your sexual experiences.

It’s clear from the rest of your question that there’s a lot being unsaid here: you’re not having orgasms, you’re not having the kind of sex that brings you to orgasm (and, seemingly, feel like you can’t ask for it), you maybe aren’t totally fine with you partner’s penis size (or, maybe, his own feelings about it and how they manifest in your sex life), and, it sounds like you’re just not in the mood a lot of the time (understandbly so — all of these contributing factors sound stressful and not relaxed or sexy). And I’m sure that drinking, conveniently, covers all of these stresses up — for a moment.

At the end of the day, sex is relational. So, the issues in people’s sexual relationships (including yours) need to be collaboratively solved and each person’s contributions (both positive and negative) are on the table, up for editing and adjusting. Meaning, Snacks, this isn’t just a YOU problem and no amount of dressing up and forgoing snacks is going to magically resolve things.

(Being comfortable and snacking is, afterall, a pleasure-based experience that you needn’t entirely sacrifice here!).

TALK TO YOUR BOYFRIEND, SNACKS. Start with “I think we can both agree that we’d like to make some adjustments to our sex life” (because, given his outburst, this statement seems true). And collaborate from there. You’re on the same team, here. So, start with dreaming up the sex life you’d both like to co-create and take small steps towards that goal, together.

Finally, you are not bothering me. Your desires are not a bother. Your boundaries are not a bother. Conflict isn’t useless or unnecessary. Rather, occasional conflict or “working things out” (different than abuse of power and control, mind you) generally means that individuals in relationship with each other are advocating for and addressing their needs and wants, even when those need and wants don’t neatly fit into the previous status quo. This is growth, my friend — challenging and good.

Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.