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Sober sex and intimacy: with Rose and Louisahhh

For this week’s podcast, we were joined by our friends at the Sober Sex podcast to talk about all things sober sex and intimacy. Laura spoke to DJ Louisahhh and Rosie Romain about their sobriety journeys and how alcohol can play a role in relationships and intimacy. Full of advice on how to navigate relationships while sober, both romantically and with friends.

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Who are Rose and Louisahhh?

Rose Romain is a certified trauma-informed recovery coach with a creative, magnetic personality, and with almost a decade of personal sobriety, Rose Romain is perfectly positioned to help those looking for new direction. After 20 years working in entertainment, Rose’s inclination to reach out and help, led to a seismic shift. Retraining as a recovery coach, Rose refocused her energy and empathy to empower others. Working in trauma, burnout, alcohol and substance misuse, intimacy issues, debt, under-earning, depression and anxiety, drawing on her own life experience, Rose now helps clients become their “own best friend”, guiding them safely through the complex arenas of mental health and substance misuse with integrity and passion.

A member of MITC, Rose is also the proud co-host of the ‘Sober Sex’ podcast with DJ Louisahhh!

Louisahhh is an acclaimed Artist. Punk. Songwriter. Kinkster. DJ. Sex-Positive Feminist. Label Boss. Equestrian. Producer. Poet. Upsetter. Cover Girl. Spiritual healer. New Yorker in Paris… Not the typical girl next door, unless you happen to live in the apartment next to Louisahhh…

Writing songs, singing and playing instruments from the age of 13; Louisahhh’s early influences were largely drawn from punk, rock, industrial, and goth bands such as NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, John Frusciante, Front 242, Garbage and Iggy Pop with a sprinkling of classical composers like Beethoven and Mozart. In her late teens, Louisahhh snuck into NYC’s underground clubs like Misshapes, Trash and Motherf*cker parties with fake IDs before making a name for herself as a DJ in the mid 2000’s.

With influences from the arts ranging from Paul Auster, Frank O’Hara and Gwendolyn Brooks to her musicals icons Patti Smith‬, Karen O, Shirley Manson‬ and Siouxie Sioux, Lousahhh’s creative DNA is printed from a long line of joyful upsetters . Trust when we say that in Louisahhh, punk has truly found its next heroine.

Deciding what to share with others

Don’t see somebody being upset with you for not drinking or not wanting to go to a pub on your first date as a failure on your part. See it as a lucky escape from somebody who wasn’t going to be right for you.

Laura Willoughby

I know this doesn’t work for everybody, but I say ‘wear your sobriety like a badge of honour’. Lay it out there and let it be. You want to find somebody who’s comfortable with it. I certainly didn’t want to be in a partnership with somebody who found it weird. Because if they don’t get it, then we’re probably not on a level. I want to have true communication and partnership with somebody. You don’t have to disclose everything, you don’t have to get a seal of approval from random people. There can be a danger of seeking affirmation from other people that sobriety is the right thing. Remember that it is your choice and it’s yours to own.

Rose Romain

On my dating profile I put ‘sober, not vanilla’. It was important for me to let people know what I was and was not into. I had about 10 years of recovery behind me, so I was very comfortable in my skin and my identity as a sober person. Before dating apps were invented it was very important for me to see this as a punk rock choice. I made an intentional choice not to destroy myself, not to check out or numb myself from the world. That was important and affirming. And it helped me to be my own best advocate and to prioritise my sobriety above all else. This was a choice I made for my own creativity. That helps me defend it. At the beginning, especially, I felt like I had to be a good defender of my sobriety, because we live in a culture that makes it very convenient and easy to check out.

Louisahhh

Telling someone you don’t drink is a great litmus test. Is this person going to support my best interests? If they need me to drink in order to make them feel comfortable, even though it compromises my integrity, should I be dating that person?

Louisahhh

Getting comfortable with sober sex and intimacy

I really enjoyed sex and still do, which is the great news about recovery, you can enjoy sober sex and intimacy. I enjoyed sex with both men and women. When I was drinking my judgment was becoming poor. I found I was using sex as a currency. I was using it to get what I wanted, to get into situations where I could get more free drinks or whatever. I didn’t really see it happening. There definitely needed to be a period where I didn’t, and I think I lasted about 29 days of abstinence in my first stint of recovery. At first, I slept with a couple of random people, and then I met the man that would become my husband. He’s somebody who really knows how to take care of himself, It’s a really beautiful thing to witness in another human. I wanted to rush moving into his when I came out of recovery because I had nothing, and he said ‘no, you need to sort yourself out’. And I don’t think we would be where we are now if it weren’t for his ability to set boundaries. 

Rose Romain

Self exploration is a big part of having sex with other people. It’s the key to being intimate with somebody else, so take the time to get to know yourself. There is loads of ethical porn out there. I don’t know if I ever watched porn before I got sober. I thought it was all the stuff we associate with porn. But there’s so much good, healthy porn out there if that’s an interest for you. There’s so much to discover in this landscape. We get a really narrow view around what sex is and what’s sexy. But it’s like culinary flavours, there are so many different choices. And it’s fun, I want a journey to go on, I want to have an adventure with sober sex and intimacy.

Rose Romain

It took me a while to figure out who I was and what I needed sexually and romantically and to be able to ask for that. It was easy to confuse purity or piousness with how I must be as a person. I didn’t know how to equate that with my actual desires, my actual sexuality. It required permission to really learn to express myself and my needs and really enjoy them in sobriety without worrying about what ‘good’ means. I didn’t realise until I’d been sober a while that I was disassociated. Most of the time if I was excited or had a crush on somebody, I would like immediately leave my body. I had to learn to differentiate between arousal and anxiety because they feel exactly the same. Often the anxiety would be my body telling me that this is not a safe person, this is not a safe situation, you don’t want to be doing this. I had to start listening to my body and be a better ally to it. I had to stop putting myself in situations that felt unsafe. A consent-based relationship with self was really important to develop in sobriety. It can be a very slow journey, but it’s so rewarding.

Louisahhh

If you’re already in a relationship and you’re getting sober, sex can get weird because the dynamic may have shifted. I’m a big advocate for going to couples therapy. I totally shifted my perspective around. I was just on orgasm train, there’s the pressure you put on yourself to satisfy somebody else or to expect that for yourself. It’s huge, and it doesn’t allow the natural development of things. There’s so much in between, and enjoying sober sex and intimacy can seem so scary at first.

Rose Romain

I think being present for your partner is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Rose Romain

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