There are some things in life you can’t do twice. You can’t go back to high school and tell yourself not to wear that all-denim outfit on the first day of class because (as much as we all secretly want them to) overalls are never coming back. You can’t return to your driving test and remember to make sure the parking break is off. There’s no way to go back and eat your words that time you assumed out loud that your new boss was expecting (just a heads up: she’s not). Some fuck ups you just can’t take back.
So maybe it’s this fear that accounts for the pressure we put on firsts, especially with relationships. First kisses, first dates, first place together, first marriage, first divorce—if it happens for the first time, you can bet someone’s going to ask you about it later.
There’s always a story with a first. Your friends want to know what your partner’s like in bed (something which you’ll probably lie about if you want to keep dating them), your parents want to know how you met your partner (something you’ll definitely lie about if you met on Tinder)—for whatever reason, the focus is always on the first time.
Even as these events are happening, most of us are trying to figure out how we will retell them later. How this first kiss was either the best or the worst, whether or not it would make your personal version of a sexy Buzzfeed list. Somehow the first always seems to matter the most. But in reality, that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes the 40th kiss is the really good one. Sometimes it’s on the second date that you realize this person is worth your time. First impressions matter, but they’re not absolute.
The other interesting phenomenon with firsts is how often we depend on the presence of alcohol. Seriously, take a minute to think about this: have you or people you know had sex with someone for the first time without a single drink before hand? Something about the presence of alcohol is comforting when you’re about to see somebody’s junk, if only because it provides the perfect we-shouldn’t-have-done-that-but-we-were-drunk excuse that we all know is bullshit.
Seriously? After one beer? You’re not fooling anyone. In a rough straw poll of 10 people, not one could remember the last time they got freaky for the first time without alcohol involved. It’s not like I polled an AA meeting—these were a bunch of university kids in their early 20s. So look—if you think you need the wine coolers in the corner as a failsafe just in case this person is rocking Brillo in their underpants, be honest with yourself about it.
I am offering a challenge to those of you reading this: just try it once. Maybe stone-cold sober sex is the freakiest sex you’ll ever have. It will likely be at least a little awkward. But why don’t you just pony up and admit that you genuinely want to bone this person? Sober sex doesn’t have to come with an engagement ring, and I refuse to accept that you’re worse at sex with improved hand-eye coordination. Like a PSA commercial in reverse, I’m begging you to try sober first-time sex once. Don’t get nervous—your Palm Bay security blanket will still be there in the morning.