Sex can get pretty messy. But drunk sex is definetly messier. We’re talking the act and the repercussions. Even if it might seem fun at the time, getting in bed with one too many drinks can lead to some serious issues the morning after (and we’re not just talking about a surprise pregnancy). The Mix talks you through it all.
The legal definition of sexual consent states that a person must agree by choice to sexual activity and they must have the “freedom and capacity to make that choice”. Problem is drinking and drugs can stop us making good decisions because they limit our capacity to understand what’s happening, but somehow they find themselves present in a number of sexual situations. To make sure you know what’s what when it comes to consent, click here.
How do I know if someone is too out-of-it to consent to sex?
Here’s where your partner’s drink or drug levels come into play. Drugs and alcohol can cause:
- Loss of bodily control
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
If your partner ticks any of the boxes above, they’re definitely too wasted for sex. But just to make life more confusing, bear in mind that everyone reacts differently when they’re consuming substances. When you’re under the influence, you might appear fine but have no clue what’s going on. Even if they’re trying to have drunk sex, it might be something they’ll utterly regret in the morning.
Wait – they want to have sex with me, and I can’t just go for it?
It’s pretty straight-forward from a legal perspective. If a person’s capacity to consent to sex is limited by alcohol or drugs, then the law is very clear that they can’t give consent. If you don’t get consent for each sexual act – from touching to penetration – you leave yourself open to being accused of rape or sexual assault.
Secondly, having drunk sex with someone who is too wasted to know what they’re doing is just… wrong. As Katie Russell from Rape Crisis says: “It’s not worth it in terms of the impact it may have on them and on the rest of their lives and it’s certainly not worth it for you either if you find you’ve committed an offence.”
Are you telling me I can’t have sex when I’ve been drinking?
Not exactly. We’re just saying you need to be aware of how it affects you and others. Good sex is about communication. If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol it’ll make it much harder to understand how your partner is feeling or read their body language. So in the end, it probably won’t even be worth it.
On the other hand, If you’re starting to think ‘Shit, my boyfriend gets too drunk to listen to me’, then it might be best to stop rather than risk getting into a sexual situation that you’re not comfortable with. Tell them you don’t want to have drunken sex, it can wait until they’ve sobered up.
If you feel like this happens every time your boyfriend drinks (which is pretty frequently), it might be time to have an honest conversation with him about a potential drinking problem. Here are some pointers to find out if your concerns are warranted.
Whose responsibility is it to get consent?
It’s usually the person who’s initiating sex that has to make sure they have consent. But even if you’re the one who started it, you can withdraw your consent at any time if it starts to get uncomfortable.
So, if you go to a party and plan that ‘if my boyfriend gets too drunk, I won’t do it’ but it ends up happening anyway, you can stop at any point and try again another time!
If I’m drunk or high, do I still have all the responsibility..?
The law honestly doesn’t care if you were drunk, they’ll just lock you up. If you’re unsure a good test is to ask yourself whether you think your actions might hurt someone else emotionally or physically. Sex should be fun for everyone involved. Why take the risk if someone might get hurt?
How do I go about getting consent?
We know it’s awkward but having good communication and getting consent can become a normal part of sex. “It doesn’t have to be a passion killer,” says Katie. “It’s about saying consent is a part of intimacy and consent will make sex better as it makes everybody feel safer, more comfortable and more relaxed.”
- Check in with your partner at every stage. For example, asking: “Do you want me to take your clothes off?”
- Make sure you’re both involved in deciding what you want to do next.
- If they look unsure again check in with them and ask if they’re ok or if they’re into it.
- Check their body language. Do they want this as much as you do? Are they leaning in to kiss you or are they just lying there?
Remember, consent is not a permission slip that allows you to do whatever you want. The other person can withdraw their consent whenever they like. If you’re mid-sex and they ask you to stop, stop.
You should also stop if you get:
- A yes after they were pressured.
- Unenthusiastic agreement. A response of “urrgh I guess so” isn’t really what you’re looking for.
We’re mid-shag and they’ve suddenly gone all floppy
We’re afraid it might not be down to your fabulous technique. Due to the way drugs and alcohol affect us, someone can go very quickly from being alert and awake to unconscious or confused.
Be aware of any changes in your partner’s behaviour and if they start to zone out or go limp, stop and tell them you don’t want to go any further as you think they might be too drunk and you can’t tell if it’s what they really want. You might also wanna read this article on drugs first aid, just in case.
Of course this also applies if you are male or female and your boyfriend gets too drunk, as well. Make sure that they are fully awake and sober before you ask if they want to have sex again.
Use our tool to help find answers for you
Click the play button below to begin or add our bot on Skype.
- Rape Crisis offers support and advice to victims of rape and sexual assault, no matter how long ago the attack was. 0808 802 99 99
- SurvivorsUK offers advice and support to male victims of rape and sexual assault. Text on 020 3322 1860.
- Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
By Nishika Melwani
Updated on 10-Oct-2021
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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