"He called you back. He opened the door for you. He kissed your forehead. Now you want a relationship. It's time for us to re-evaluate, sis."
- Me to me in the mirror.
"Bare minimum Twitter" has become a thing, and it's triggering. Out in the Twittersphere, there are women tweeting about simple things that they claim to be relationship goals and many commenters are calling them out about their choice of standards.
"Bare Minimum Twitter" is a reflection of the reality about the standards we have for romantic partners.
It exists as a result of the prevalence of guys out there who put in less effort than what is being tweeted about, and the fact that what is being praised are things that are standard and mandatory (read: bare minimum). Have we gone so far down the abyss that a man opening the door for us, calling us by our name, and texting us back is subject to praise? When did basic behavior start becoming the bar for bae-material? Are we convincing ourselves that we are not settling?
A lot of these tweets have been dirty mirrors for me to look into. Throughout my history of dating, there have been many times where I've called my best friend to gloat about how charming a man was on a date - opening the door for me, paying for the food, driving me home, telling me how pretty I was. The annoyance in my friend's voice was anything but sugarcoated, "Uh, yeah, girl. That's what he's supposed to do."
It made me take a long look into the patterns of partners that I've allowed into my sacred space. The realization hit me hard: a lot of the men I had been dating were admitted a pass because of the minimal requirements of respect I had for myself.
And suddenly, my membership card to the Bare Minimum Club began to sparkle under the enlightenment.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I want a type of love that feels like poetry to my soul and wine to my bloodstream.
I no longer want to be involved in situationships that require me to silence half my voice, dilute my being to be fit to their preferences, or feel guilty about my whole self only being half-loved. There are things that I tell myself that are standard to receiving my love - character, ambition, respect, generosity, etc. - but fall short.
Why am I allowing myself to get excited over men doing things that should be considered necessary before I even consider dating? Have I really forgotten the principles of courtship to the instant gratification of the era that we live in? Why should I feel ashamed to say I want a emotionally stable, honest, attractive man with good credit, great relationships with his family, and an even better career?
In 2018, I want to attract high-vibrational and wholesome relationships into my life.
With the new year about to be in full effect, I think it's important that I begin to ask myself questions to reflect on why I have allowed my love life to be half-assed and half-full. Here are a few things I am learning in order to cultivate what I want and rid myself of the bare minimum syndrome for good:
Know What You Bring To The Table
When you know what you bring to the table, you have a platfrom to expect reciprocity. Because, honestly, no one likes an entitled sista. What are you willing to give and what do you bring to the table? Are we doing the bare minimum for ourselves so it's okay for others to do that as well? Raise the standard for yourself and therefore you'll attract that kind of partner into your life.
Know What Your Standards Are & Abide By Them
Once you know and understand what you have to bring to the table, you have the footnotes to provide when people snootily ask, "Well, you're asking for so much out of a partner. What do you even have to offer?"
Bring out the receipts, sis. What do you want from a partner? What do you expect? Are we compromising our standards to just say that someone is in our life or that we aren't alone? Are we so afraid of being alone and doing for ourselves that we're willing to accept anything? No, because we know our worth and we are abiding by the standards we've set. Don't settle for less when you know exactly who you are.
Make Sure The People In Your Life Who Reflect & Hold You Accountable
If the people around you don't hold themselves to a high standard, then they don't have the muscle mass to hold you up. Their uplifting will only be temporary. They will grow tired in their praise of you if you don't believe it or if they are not secure about themselves. Keeping positive, self-secure people around you will only elevate you, because they will not have the time to be around Debbie Downers or self-pity lobbyists. Queens recognize queens.
Find you a queen that sees your magic just as you see hers - she'll remind you if you're stepping out of your own boundaries for a partner real quick.
Observe How Much Energy & Effort A Man Puts Into Other Things
Do your homework. When an interest in a partner begins, you want to observe. How is he treating you compared to everyone else and the other aspects of his life? Once you get a clear vision of where he puts his efforts and his energy, you'll be able to see where you stand. Are you accepting the bare minimum from him? Is he going out of his way to provide for you or make time to get to know you? If not, you need to return to step number 1 and 2, and act accordingly.
There is no question that I am coming for everything that I deserve; therefore, accepting the bare minimum is no longer an option. I may have new years resolutions of minimalism but a minimalist love affair is not one of them.
I am learning the difference between low maintenance and low standards.
For a woman to be low maintenance, there has to be a high standard to exist regarding how a man treats you. When he's consistent in operating from a higher standard, it is low maintenance because it's the norm. When he's consistently operating from a low standard, you'll always be considered high maintenance because you're asking for more than what he is used to providing.
We need to stop confusing standards with preferences and confusing our assertiveness of these standards as being "too much" because a man's criticism is rooted in his inability to perform and deliver.
It's okay to set the bar high when consistently operating from your deepest, truest self. That's called knowing your worth.
When you know your worth, you know what serves you and doesn't. If you feel triggered by the truth coming full circle and making you look into the mirror, self-evaluate where you are, work on yourself, invest in yourself and raise your own stock so that you can raise your standards and turn in your Bare Minimum membership card.
Should excellence be expected or rewarded? Only you can answer that for yourself.
Featured image by Giphy
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This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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I mean, you see the title. You know what it is. LOL. I will share the inspiration for this real quick before diving all the way in.
I must admit that I don’t watch The Real Housewives franchises all that much. There are several reasons why, yet the main one is there seem to be less and less actual wives on the show, so — the title is hella misleading. Sometimes, when I’m channel surfing (is it just me or does it seem like we’ve all got a ton of channels with not much merit on ANY of them?), I’ll find myself intrigued. And so, not too long ago, when the ladies ofThe Real Housewives of Potomac got into the topic of who swallows — yes, sperm and semen — Robyn Dixon copped to it while everyone else looked appalled, two things came to my mind.
One, what do women think that men go through when they go down on them? It’s not like it’s exactly the Sahara Desert down there, so how would they feel if their partner got up and “spit them out” during oral sex? And two — an article that I wrote for the platform years ago that received quite a bit of traction is “Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm” and when it comes to how good it can do your body? Sperm and semen (the fluid that carries it) are loaded with protein, reduce stress, boost moods, help with balancing hormones, and reduce inflammation, is basically a supreme multivitamin and can even extend your longevity.
Now, am I saying that swallowing is like a trip to Baskin Robbins? No. Yet, my personal opinion is that the texture/consistency, more than the taste itself, is what takes some getting used to (tell your man that water and a high vitamin C diet do indeed help in both departments). Either way, though, a lot of the…let’s go with trepidation that a lot of women have is in their mind more than anything. And besides, it’s not like there aren’t some proven hacks that can help to…“make the medicine go down” more easily.
Listen, I know that some women are never gonna be sold on swallowing. I also know that far too many men have told me that it definitely takes experiencing fellatio to an entirely different level. So, if you’re open to giving swallowing (more of) a shot, I wanted to help you out by providing some hacks that could very well…turn you into a swallowing master.
Take a deep breath. Exhale. Now let’s get into it.
1. Suck on a MintGiphy
Okay, so if you have tasted semen (I’m gonna go with that from now on since sperm “travels” in it) before and you just can’t seem to get past how bitter or salty it is, one thing that can help is to suck on a peppermint or Altoids before the act begins. It can help to mask the taste — plus, the sensation of the menthol is something that a lot of men enjoy experiencing because it provides a sensation of coolness that, when combined with the suction sensation, is pretty incomparable.
2. Put Your Tongue DownGiphy
I’ll never forget playing a round of Never Have I Ever with some friends back in the day, and when the topic of swallowing came up, one of them said that what she does is she asks the guy to let her know (either by vocalizing it or tugging on her hair) when he’s about to cum and she puts her tongue down until/while he does. Meaning, that she stretches out her tongue and tries to lay it as flat on the bottom of her mouth as possible. What this does is prevent you from tasting most of the semen (especially since it shoots out during ejaculation at around 25-28 MPH). Again, just make sure that he gives you a heads-up. You don’t want to choke because you weren’t exactly…well, prepared.
3. Deep Throat ItGiphy
Anyone who knows about Lil’ Kim (whose flow still rivals just about any and every female rapper in my opinion) and her lyrics can vouch for the fact that it’s rare when she’s not gonna find some kind of way to say “deep throat” at least once per song (LOL). For instance, I was listening to “Freaky Gurl” (featuring Ludacris and Lil' Kim) not too long ago, and yep — she talked about it. I’m thinking that most people know exactly what deep-throating is; however, just to be sure, it’s the act of taking as much of a man’s shaft into your mouth until it feels like it’s hitting the back of your throat; that way, you barely notice your partner’s ejaculate at all. Now, if you’ve got a gag reflex, the next tip is what will get you through it.
4. Tuck Your Thumb into Your FistGiphy
Did you know that if you put your left thumb into your fist and then squeeze, it relaxes your throat? I’m dead serious. The method behind the madness is it hits the pressure point that helps to suppress your gag reflex. Might sound odd but hey — don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, chile. While we’re here, there are also throat-numbing sprays that will reduce the chances of you gagging, too. One is here. Another is here. And still, one more is here.
5. Become a Human VacuumGiphy
This one right here? I mean, the tip is exactly what it sounds like. The more passive you are about, umm, “receiving him,” means you will have more time where the ejaculate lingers in your mouth. On the flip side, the more intentional you are about sucking more during the time when he’s cumming, the faster it all comes out, the less you will taste anything. Oh, and LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING (and yes, I am totally yelling here!), it’s also the more you just got him to want you on a whole ‘nother level. Human vacuums change lives out here. Straight up.
6. Bring Flavored Lube into the MixGiphy
Bringing lubricant into your boudoir is beneficial on a myriad of levels (check out “The Wetter, The Better: 10 Creative Ways To Use Lubricant”). As far as giving oral sex goes, flavored lube is bomb because not only can it help your taste buds to focus on it more than semen, but if we’re gonna be real, the textures are quite similar — which, when you really stop to think about it, is proof that a lot about swallowing is all up in women’s heads because, who do you hear complain about putting lubricant in their mouth? And since the lube and semen are quite similar, if you have some lubricant in your mouth as you’re performing the act, it will make things super slippery, which is a win for him, and harder for you to detect the semen, which is a win for you.
7. Incorporate a Sex CondimentGiphy
And what if you’re someone who actually does loathe the taste and consistency of lube? How about incorporating what I call “sex condiments” (check out “12 'Sex Condiments' That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious”)? Honey. Frosting. Whipped Cream. Fruit Puree. These are just some of the things that, if you enjoy how they taste, they too can make swallowing so much more of a pleasant experience for you.
8. Keep Your Favorite Drink Beside YouGiphy
Back in the day, when we had to take a medicine that we didn’t like, drinking something that we enjoyed right after helped to “wash it all down.” Along these same lines, if you’re only even merely considering swallowing in order to please your partner, keep a favorite drink on your nightstand to see how that works for you. It really will help to get the taste and texture out of your mouth rather quickly. Plus, you can look at it as a “reward” for doing an act that was so…selfless.
9. Go the “69” RouteGiphy
Sometimes, all you need to do in order to become an expert swallower is incorporate a bit of distraction — and I’m not sure that anything tops the number (which is also a sex position) 69 when it comes to that. Listen, I wish I could find y’all the Instagram (they need to do better with their searches). I saw a few weeks ago where a sistah was talking about how she has absolutely no problem cooking at any time of the day or night for her partner. Why? “Why wouldn’t I make sure my eater eats? Are y’all dumb? It’s hard to find a good eater in these streets.” She ain’t neva lied. And when you’ve got someone who has you damn near losing your own mind — one, you want to please him back, and two, you’re usually too caught up to be focused on if he’s about to cum or not. Yeah, out of all of the hacks, this one reigns supreme. Get into that 69. Not sure how you could regret it. Him either.
10. Stop Overthinking ItGiphy
To be honest with y’all, whether you follow through on these hacks or not, nothing is going to seem like it helps if you’re constantly overthinking what the experience is going to be like. Just like overthinking, in general, causes anxiety and stress, makes it difficult for you to concentrate, results in you second-guessing your decisions, and can make you create problems that don’t actually exist — it can definitely manifest in those ways when it comes to performing and completing, fellatio. So why make things harder — no pun intended — than it has to be?
Make the decision. Stop thinking that it’s gonna be worse or more than it is. And enjoy the hacks and the experience. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more your man will appreciate you for it. Hands down — remember tongue down, too. #wink
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Featured image by Jack Wackerhausen/Getty Images