If there's one thing that I can promise you is consistent about my writing content, it's that I'm ever on the quest to have as many people have as much fulfilling sex, on a consistent basis, as absolutely possible. Today, it's all about some little things that can make a really big difference as it directly relates to sexual pleasure. Some are already in your house, some are up the street at your local grocery store and a few you'll have to order online. Just know that if you're willing to add, even five of these tips, you and your partner will be wondering what the hell took you so long to do just that. So, let's make sex even better with the following 15 things, shall we?
1. Pop Rocks
Wanna bring even more excitement to fellatio? When's the last time you put some Pop Rocks into your mouth beforehand? If you haven't thought about them since you were a kid, they're the candies that create a popping/sizzling sensation.
Between that and the flavor of your choice, Pop Rocks can make going down more appealing to your taste buds while offering up a totally indescribable "vibration" for your partner.
Oh, and if you have a hard time finding them at your local store, you can always get some Pop Rocks on its company website here.
Speaking of creating cool sensations during oral sex, if you like the taste of mint, try gargling some Listerine and then keeping a little bit of it in your mouth before taking him into yours. It creates a cool menthol feel that also can make him go all the way in…if you know what I mean.
3. Ice Cream
While we're on the topic of creating amazing sensations on genital regions, when's the last time that you had some ice cream put onto your labia during oral sex? If it's your man's favorite flavor, he will be sure to eat it up (pun totally intended). Plus, the cool sensation of the ice cream along with the warmth of his mouth will easily have you climbing the walls. Just make sure to put down a towel or prepare to wash your sheets afterwards. This can make a mess, although it's the best kind of one.
4. Clit Pump
I know, right? You learn something new every day. Today, for me, it's clit pumps. If you've never heard of them before, they're basically mini vacuums that you place over your clitoris in order to increase blood circulation to it. The benefit? Well, the more sensitive your clitoris is, the easier it is to climax. Many women sing its praises because the combo of the vacuum and oral action happening simultaneously can create the most intense orgasm ever. Cop one here and then report back. #wink
5. Masturbation Sleeve (or Banana Peels)
Never heard of a masturbation sleeve before? That's OK. I'll break it down. Long story short, it's the kind of sex toy that a man puts his penis into that feels somewhat like a vagina or even a mouth. Some come with lube. Some vibrate. While it might initially sound like the kind of game only one can play, a lot of couples enjoy them because they say it's great when it comes to mutual masturbation or oral sex. Men's Health once did a feature on this entitled, "I Tried 6 Male Masturbation Sleeves, and This One Was Definitely the Best". It might be able to point you into the right direction of which masturbation sleeve to get.
On the other hand, if money is tight or sex gadgets aren't really your thing, some people are all about using banana peels as an alternative. Yep. Literally putting their package in between a peel. Hey, if the grapefruit trick worked, I don't see why a banana peel wouldn't.
6. Delay Spray
Whether your man struggles with premature ejaculation, it takes you a bit longer to "get there" or your stuff is just so good that he sometimes releases before either of you planned, something that he might want to try is Delay Spray. If you've never heard of it before, it's the kind of spray that relaxes the sensitive nerves in his penis so that he can go for a longer period of time. The key is to apply the spray 10-15 minutes prior to intercourse. And if you're wondering — it will not affect your vagina, you can use it even if oral sex is going to happen (after the spray is applied; just wait about 10 minutes) and it can go on a flaccid or erect penis. If it's piqued your interest, you can purchase a bottle by going here.
7. “Honey Oil”
A couple of years ago, when I wrote an article onfall-themed sex, one of the things that I shouted out was cinnamon oil. Chile…chile. It's sweet, it's warm and it's such a non-sticky way to enjoy "tongue-cleaning" — and getting cleaned. Along these same lines, adding a teaspoon of honey to one-third cup of sweet almond oil, zapping it into the microwave for 10 minutes and then applying it to each other's bodies and licking it off can be pure bliss. There's honestly no other way to put it.
If low-key bondage is totally your thing but handcuffs are uncomfortable as hell, there are some cool cuffs known as Cuffies. What makes them a standout item is they are super strong yet because they are made out of silicone, they are uber comfortable too.
The real bonus? They're only $18. Definitely worth having in one of your nightstands, if you ask me. If you're interested, you can cop a pair here.
While you're waiting on your Cuffies to arrive in the mail, a more-than-fair substitute is a necktie. It's soft. It's sexy. And it can double up as a bondage tool or a blindfold. Preferably both.
10. CBD Oil
Last fall, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "7 Proven Ways Weed Makes Sex So Much Better". One of the things that I shouted out in it is CBD lube; not only does it make things wetter, the properties in CBD can also heighten sensitivity in the genital region. Along these same lines, CBD oil is dope because it helps to relax your body's blood vessels, so that blood flow is able to increase and your orgasms can intensify. Using it as a warm massage oil is the perfect way to up the ante as far as foreplay goes. Not "maybe" — definitely.
11. Partial Clothing
Most of the men I know, when it comes between choosing lingerie or nudity, they are totally doing for Door #2. However, I think there is something that is really sexy about having sex while partially clothed. A dress with no undies underneath. Breasts that are exposed with the bra still on. Panties moved over to the side. To me, it sends the message of, "You're so damn hot that I don't want to waste any more time trying to get all of your clothes off." And sex that is full of that kind of passion? It never misses.
12. “Sex Gratitude”
Out of all of the things on this list, perhaps my favorite one is this particular tip. If you want to have some truly incredible sex, the more dopamine that's surging throughout your body, the better. That's because dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that sends messages back and forth between your body cells.
On the sex tip, dopamine is great because it plays a significant role in why and how we feel pleasure. Well, keeping this in mind, did you know that something that naturally triggers dopamine in your system is gratitude? When we express it and hear it, our brain releases a bit of dopamine which causes us to feel really good. So, whether it's during the act of foreplay or sex itself, tell your partner what you appreciate about them, especially sexually. I'd be shocked if he didn't return the favor and that the words you both hear won't prove to be the ultimate turn-on.
13. Open Blinds
If you consider yourself to be a closet exhibitionist (you like to be watched) yet you've never been bold enough to do something along the lines of having sex outdoors, a happy medium could be to open up some blinds in a room in your house. Whether it's in the day when the neighbors could actually see what's going on or at night when not a soul is looking, it's a simple way to "scratch the itch" without taking a really big risk.
14. Memory Foam Mattress Cover
Whether you have a squeaky bed or a house full of kids (check out "How To Make Sex Easier (& More Fun) When You've Got Kids"), don't let either stop you from getting as buckwild as you wanna be. A very easy and affordable way to "quiet your bed down" is to put a memory foam mattress cover on top of your mattress. Also, if you've got some box springs or a metal frame, spray some WD-40 on it could get your bed to shut up so that you can turn up as well.
15. “Sex Rewards”
I'm pretty sure you've heard of sex coupons before. Sex rewards are similar in the sense that you literally find fun and creative ways to "reward" for your partner for a job well done. If he makes you cum three times in a row, he gets his favorite meal prepared the following day. If you get into his favorite position, he runs the errands for you that you hate. The objective here isn't to use sex as a form of manipulation so much as an incentive to get excited about things outside of the bedroom. After all, rewarding people is one of the most effective ways to get them to do even more for you — or in the case of sex, to you. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Exactly.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Text This Before You Ghost Them, Sis.
We’ve all been there at least once (or a few times) along our dating journey. Maybe you’ve had a date or two with a potential suitor, but the spark just wasn’t there. Perhaps you convinced yourself that just “one more” date would help you overlook a non-negotiable ick. At this point in the dating cycle, you’ve probably reached the point where you must decide to either communicate “why” things won’t be moving forward or simply ghost them.
What Is Ghosting?
“Ghosting” refers to the act of suddenly and unexpectedly cutting off all communication with someone you've been dating or talking to without any explanation or further contact. It typically occurs in the early stages of dating but can also happen after a few dates or even in more established relationships.
The act of ghosting has become quite a common practice in our modern dating culture and can manifest in a number of different ways. From days of ignored text messages and phone calls out of the blue to not showing up for pre-arranged plans and sometimes disappearing from someone's life without any notice or explanation.
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The Problem With Ghosting
Being ghosted may seem like a harmless act of “self-choosing,” but the person on the receiving end of your decision can be left feeling confused, rejected, and even abandoned, wondering what happened and where they went wrong.
And we get it, what explanation do you owe someone for leaving after a few cocktails and a $100 date? While that may seem like the perfect opportunity to cut and run, taking an alternative approach to fizzle out a fling is a great time to practice clear and effective communication that can pay off in the long run.
While there is a time and a place for ghosting (and even blocking) if your boundaries have been crossed or safety has been threatened, if we’re looking to live out our best healed, secure-girl summer, there are ways to date freely without leaving others with damage of their own to recover from.
Being honest and upfront about your feelings while being respectful of the other person's time is the best way to leave a situationship or fling with both parties emotionally unscathed. So if you’re looking for ways to break things off with care and consideration, we’ve provided five text scripts to send instead of ghosting somebody’s son:
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5 Texts To Send Instead of Ghosting Them
1. If you want to take the honest but gentle approach:
"Hey [Name], I've really enjoyed getting to know you, but I've been doing some thinking, and I don't see this going any further. I wanted to be upfront and honest with you rather than leaving you wondering. I wish you all the best."
2. If you want to express gratitude before saying goodbye:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the time we spent together. You're an amazing person, but I think we're better off as friends. I hope you understand and that we can still maintain a positive connection."
3. If you want to leave a note of appreciation:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to let you know that I've had a great time with you, but I don't think we're compatible for a romantic relationship. I appreciate the moments we shared, and I hope we can both find what we're looking for."
4. If a face-to-face convo is needed:
"Hey [Name], I've been doing some thinking, and I believe it's important for us to have an open conversation about where we stand. Can we find some time to talk about our relationship and how we both feel? I think it's important to address things honestly."
5. If you want to keep things cute and concise:
"Hey [Name], I've realized that we're not on the same page, and it's best if we part ways. Take care."
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