When it comes to my semi-sordid-somewhat-random sexual past , something that I'm pretty open about is, I had a pattern of sleeping with my male friends. What was that all about? Well, to this day, I've never had a one-night stand before and, I wasn't very quick to have sex with people either. For me, I needed more than just a physical attraction or even chemistry; there needed to be a true emotional connection of some sort—and that tended to manifest via my male friendships. Now, for a guy and I to get to a point of "showing each other our parts", clearly we were never truly platonic (check out " The Word 'Platonic' Is Sacred. Literally .")—yet, at the same time, there was enough of an attraction to wonder what it would be like to "take it there".
To tell you the truth, I'm still trying to figure out if that mindset was crazy or not. At the time, my rationale was, "I like him and I trust him. I don't really want anything super serious right now so, sex with a friend seems like the best of both worlds: the buddy and the booty ." (That last part is a line that Queen Latifah said in the movie Brown Sugar ). But when I tell you that sex, even so-called casual sex (also check out " We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex' "), changes the dynamic of a relationship—any kind of relationship—it is so true. Sometimes, it alters it in ways that you wouldn't quite expect. Take if you engage in sex with a friend, believing that it will be all good and then, when it's all said and done, it's bad. Shoot, worse than that.
Even if you both went in, not expecting to pledge your undying love for each other, less-than-stellar sex can still bruise egos and make things hella awkward (I'm saying that from personal experience). So, if it ever happens to happen to you, what can you do to preserve your friendship ? These five questions can hopefully help to bring you some peace and your relationship, moving forward, with some clarity.
What Made It “Bad”?
Bad sex . If you're on this planet long enough (and you are sexually active while living on it), you'll experience some at some point. Thing is, the reasons can run the gamut. You may lack sexual compatibility . Someone may not be as "sexually knowledgeable" as they let on to be. What you fantasized in your mind may not be even close to the reality. Maybe your partner is selfish, boring or both. Like I said, the possibilities are pretty endless. But knowing what made the sex not so impressive is what can help you to figure out how to proceed.
Take one male friend who I had sex with. I always refer to him as my Cirque du Soleil-in-under-15-minutes experience because, I don't know what the brotha was trying to prove, but it was like he was trying to do everything possible in the time it takes to watch half of a sitcom. Before the sex, while I wasn't interested in being in a romantic relationship with him, I did find him to be fine as hell; so, I wanted to see if he was as good in bed as he looked (hey, I'm just being honest). He. Absolutely. Was. Not. Purely on the physical tip, the sex was so wack that it was almost comical. It was so bad, in fact, that there was no reason for us to fall out or anything. In fact, in hindsight, the end result is we became just friends . It was even hard to see him as fine anymore.
But if it had been bad because he mistreated me, lied about some other situations he had going on, gave me an STD, etc., etc.—well, I could see how that could produce an entirely different outcome. So yeah, if you are trying to figure out how to recover from a bad sex session with a friend, getting down to what made it so horrible in the first place is the first thing that I'd advise you to do. That, right there, can reveal… a lot.
What Was Your Motive for Doing It in the First Place?
An author by the name of Paul David Tripp once said, "We rarely do anything with one single motive." That really is so true. A motive is what causes us to act a certain way or it's the goal that we set to attain by saying or doing certain things. Keeping this in mind, a person's motive (or set of motives) tends to reveal quite a bit about them. That said, when you decided to sleep with your friend, what caused you to do it? What end game did you have in mind? If it all boiled down to curiosity, horniness or simply trying to "scratch and itch", for the most part, those reasons are pretty superficial and, like a surface cut or wound, you can "heal" from that pretty quickly. In time, the two of you might even be able to laugh about it (maybe). But if it even remotely had to do with some of the stuff that I said in the article " When He Just Wants To Be Friends, But You Want More... ", that is another matter entirely.
One of the biggest gambles that comes with having sex with a friend, even if it is just so-called casual sex, is it still has the tendency to connect you to your partner on another level (after all, oxytocin doesn't know if you like, love or are in love with who you sleep with).
So, if you weren't honest with yourself before engaging with your friend, you could be lying to both of you about what your core motive was. On top of that, what made sex bad for you could be about more than just the physical. Maybe you were hoping it would start off casual but end up with him seeing you in another light. Or, maybe you thought that you would put it on him and it could become a steady thing, while he had more of a one-and-done mentality about everything. Yeah, a lot of us end up with our feelings hurt or being the peak of pissed because we weren't forthcoming about why we set out to do something. If you are "feeling some type of way" about the sex that you and your homie had, get back to the foundation before doing anything else. Ponder what your true motive was for taking things there.
Does He Feel the Same Way That You Do?
For this particular topic, I decided to hit up a good friend of mine in order to get the male perspective, since I happen to know that he's had quite a bit of experience when it comes to sleeping with female friends. As we were discussing a message I once heard about the fact that women deal in "wire" or string (everything tends to connect to everything else) while men deal in "boxes" (they tend to compartmentalize stuff), he shared with me that this fact actually applies to this scenario.
"When it comes to us, sex has to be really bad for it to totally suck. Like, for me, I would say that if it would be easier for me to get a nut by jacking off than having sex with someone…yeah, that means she's bad in bed. Otherwise, even if the sex isn't great, I probably won't even bring up that my mind wasn't blown. For me, it's more about if you are bringing drama to the friendship outside of the sex. Can I still talk to you about other women? Are you about to have unrealistic expectations? Are you trying to be more than friends on the sly? If we can still maintain our friendship, I'll be real with you—we can still be friends and probably have sex because guys don't look at sex as being 'good' or 'bad' so much as who is better or best."
Interesting. I asked a few other fellas I know to share their thoughts on this, and they basically nodded their heads in agreement. To me, what this all boils down to is, unless your male friend has been secretly crushin' on you, chances are, you don't have to worry about unimpressive casual sex with him ruining anything. That is, unless you choose for it to.
If It Was Truly “Casual”, What’s the Problem?
I'm pretty word particular. That's why, personally, I'm not a fan of the word "casual" being used in the context of relationships. Casual means without serious intention. Casual means careless. Casual means apathetic and unconcerned. Seems kind of weird that two friends— two true friends —would intentionally participate together in anything that falls in line with those definitions. But if you have, again, I get it. Because I didn't think all of this through super deeply at the time, I've been there.
And you know what? A part of what caused casual sex to ruffle some feathers in my friendly hook-ups is that I expected the sex to be casual but not the "aftercare" that followed. Meanwhile, my male friends were like, "If we're having sex with serious intention, why should I be penalized for not being super concerned if you didn't enjoy it as much as you expected to or if I'm exactly the same afterwards? We just friends, so what's with all of the 'extra'?" And, to a large degree, those guys would have a point.
If the two of you had sex one night and had some really bad sex, all with the understanding that it shouldn't have happened and neither of you want it to happen again, there really shouldn't be (too) much more energy put into it. But if something about the definitions of casual trigger you, when it comes to what went down between you and your friend, well, something tells me that it might not be as casual as you've been trying to let on. Something tells me that, even if you don't have serious feelings for your friend, you are looking for a little more interest and empathy on his part. And, if that is indeed the case…you should probably ask yourself "why?".
Do You (Still) Value the Friendship More than Anything Else?
Out of everything that we discussed in this, at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is what you value the most—holding onto a disappointing sexual experience or preserving your friendship. Now, if something about the sexual experience has caused you to question your value or self-worth, please get down to the root of that as soon as possible. No matter how unimpressive a sexual experience is, if it's with a friend, it still shouldn't affect or infect you in that way. But if it really just boils down to the bad sex making things weird and awkward, remember that this is your friend that we're talking about. Like my male friend said, chances are, it's eating at you far more than it is your male friend. Plus, he probably wants to get past it all so that you can get back to being just friends.
The main thing to keep in mind is that sex with a friend, whether it's good or bad sex, tends to alter things more times than not. And, many times, how it does that is unpredictable. If you're not prepared to deal with those odds, you might want to stay out of the bedroom. After all, there are so many other options out here. Why take this kind of risk with your male friend(s)? For real.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood