While getting my nails done a couple of weeks ago, my tech and I tried to figure out what year, in the Chinese calendar, we were headed into. As we came to the conclusion that 2020 was going to be the Year of the Rat, that reminded me to look up what 20, overall, symbolizes. It's quite interesting. You probably already know that 20/20 represents perfect vision. As far as angel numbers go, 20 stands for positivity, optimism and a happy future. On the numerology tip, some associate 20 with relationships and cooperation. In the Hebrew language, the word "kaph" represents the number 20 and also translates into the open palm of one's hand, as if to tame or subdue oneself as an act of surrender. But probably, what stands out to me the most, specifically as it relates to this particular topic, is what 20 biblically symbolizes. It represents—wait for it—"a complete or perfect waiting period".
Now on the eve of the year 2020, watch how all of this comes together like a beautiful Happy New Year present from the Universe via someone else's relational journey.
2019 Marked the (Greater) Evolution of the Artist Common
Personally, I've always appreciated what hip-hop artist and actor Common has brought to the culture. That's why, last spring, I was appreciative when our managing editor Sheriden Chanel allowed me to pen the piece "Common, Thanks For Talking About Black Male Molestation. We Need To More Often". As someone who is making it my mission in 2020 to be very intentional about affirming Black men more often, I wanted to publicly praise Common for his candor and courage. From there, we started to check for Common's evolution more and more via pieces like "Common Admits To Seeking Therapy For His Addiction To Love", "More Than A Rapper, Common Reminds Us Why A Father's Love Is So Important", and "Everything We Learned About Love From Common's 'Red Table Talk'" (which ran last July).
Being that I am, for the most part, a sex and relationships writer, I knew about his on-again-off-again relationship with attorney, commentator and political strategist, Angela Rye (you can check out her The Breakfast Club interviews throughout the years here). Between all of the self-work that Common was clearly doing and the rumblings in the media that he and Angela had gotten back together, in my mind, I was like, "Looks like these two will be jumping somebody's broom come next summer." Especially since, via his Red Table Talk, this came out of his own mouth:
"I would like to be a husband. I think that for a long time, I was in and out with that. Do I really wanna be a husband or am I doing this because this is what society says to? Now, I just want that partnership to be able to experience life, where I'm growing as a human being and kind of just spark each other. It's fun too. I know it's hard at times."
It was right around this time last year when I wrote the article "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material". In my opinion, what exactly would that indicator be? A man who says that he wants to be married. A pull-out quote from the piece states this:
Is he dating with a purpose (with that purpose being to find a life partner)? Does he say that marriage is a part of his life plan? Is it evident that he's preparing for a wife and family? And — please get this — does he state that he wants to get married sooner than later? (Meaning within a couple of years rather than him saying something along the lines of "I mean…maybe…someday.")
If you can confidently say "yes" to these questions because you've actually asked him and you heard "yes" come out of his own mouth, then yes, he is marriage material.
So yeah, since Common said, in his own words, that he wanted to be a husband, and since he also put on record that he was seeing someone (who we did later find out was indeed Ms. Rye), it was fair to put two-and-two together. Common was no longer running from love and he was back with someone he deeply cared for. As a bonus, he was interested in marriage. Wins all the way around.
That's why, it initially hurt my feelings, just a little bit, when I heard several weeks back that Common and Angela were no longer together. That is, until I read why they broke up (again). After hearing and processing the explanation, I must admit that I could only salute their self-awareness (peep the last point about self-awareness in the article "These Are The Things Self-Aware People Do Daily") and ask my editor again for an opportunity to share the lesson that I personally got out of their experience. Thankfully, Sheriden obliged. As we're hours away from 2020, it truly is a gem. I can promise you that.
A Great Point via Angela Rye—When You Choose a Person, You Also Choose a Path
Last night, while I was chillin' and internet surfin', I peeped that it was Tyrese's birthday (Happy Belated, sir). BET Soul has a knack for playing an artist's videos on their birthday, so I watched some of his hits (I forgot how many of them there actually were; it's a lot). Anyway, when Tyrese's song "Best of Me" came on, I peeped that part of it says this—"I feel I could conquer the world with you by my side/Cause of your unconditional love baby that's why/You bring out the best in me, cause you are the best baby/And if I had to do it again (I'll still choose you girl)/You bring out the best in me, 'cause you are the best, baby". This just happened to come on while I was reading a Bossip article entitled, "Angela Rye Confirms Common Breakup 'We Will Always Be Friends'". The best means "of the highest quality, excellence, or standing". The best also means "most advantageous, suitable, or desirable". Synonyms for best include first-rate, beyond compare, culminating (that's a really good one), prime, greatest, matchless and unrivaled. Now watch this.
As I read, in Angela's own words (via her podcast), about why she and Common decided to call it quits, for the second time, my initial disappointment transformed into pure excitement. Odd? After you read this, I'm hoping that you won't think so:
"What I would say happened is we broke up. We were together for about a year this time and we broke up, I think it was September-ish maybe, because we just want different things. This was right after the time that I realized I was going to take the second godson, the 9-year-old [Ryan], more often. I had told him about it the day before. We had been talking probably for two months about 'Let's see where things go' because I'm leaning towards 'I want kids' and he was leaning towards 'I don't know,' and I think when somebody tells you they don't know, they don't really want that, they just don't want to hurt you.
"For me, I was like, I'm clear, I'm getting clarity around what I want for myself…so the thing that I would say is he is more established in his career and we have a little bit of an age difference and he has a fully grown wonderful human daughter I love, Omoye, in law school so not wanting to start over is a thing."
Yes Angela. Yaaas. No matter how many articles I write on relationships, nine times out of 10, the messages are for me first. So, back when I wrote, "Is It OK To Love A Man More Than He Loves You?" last spring and "Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?" a few weeks prior to that, I must say that Angela's resolve brought both of those back to my remembrance. How dope it is, really, that two people can care about one other enough to basically say, "I do love you, but I love myself too much to not get all of what I want and feel like I deserve. And since we're not on the same page about those things, we should let each other go…so that we can get to them?" (See "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like".) And really, doesn't that look like what Angela did? She wants kids. Common is unsure. They weren't on the same page. It was time to move on. No love is lost; it's simply—redirected.
Something that far too many of us miss when it comes to relationships is something that I share in every premarital counseling session that I can—when you are looking for the right fit for you, it's not just about choosing a person; it's also about selecting the path that you want to be on. There are some guys I've dated who, to this day, I adore. But whether it's their career path, their future plans, or certain priorities that don't complement my own, I stopped seeing them. Not because of who they are as an individual, but because a true partnership, in many ways, walks side-by-side, on the same path. Why be with someone and then fight them at every turn, simply because they are going in a direction that you can't be enthusiastic about or support because it doesn't complement your own?
If you don't want children, why date a man who desires kids within the next two years?
If you're not sure what you think about religion at all, why go out with a man who is a pastor?
If you cringe at the thought of being a "traditional wife", why get involved with a man who has traditional expectations?
If you want to see the world, why get serious about a homebody?
If your libido is off the charts, why consider someone who doesn't make sexual intimacy a top priority?
If you want a constant sense of stability when it comes to one's finances or daily routine, why see an entertainer or entrepreneur?
If you want to get married, why date a guy who doesn't?
This is why, I'm all about people going on dates and asking some real questions while they're on them. Just because someone is fine, funny and shares some of your interests, that doesn't automatically mean they are the right fit for you; that doesn't mean they will complement your life's path. And because each one of us is here to fulfill a particular purpose, and also because we all have certain desires and goals, it's important that we don't get so caught up in "him" that we forget how important our path truly is. It's essential that we apply to our lives what the philosopher Siddhārtha Gautama once said—"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."
In other words if, as a single woman, you are distracted by a man instead of loyal to your purpose and desires, you could end up resenting the very man you love, all because you're on a path that isn't BEST—excellent, most advantageous, unrivaled—for you. That won't be his fault either. It will be yours.
Bottom Line: Allow 2020 to “Perfect Your Wait”
And that's why, I think, what Angela shared about her break-up with Common, is actually a really great way to step into 2020. Remember how I said at the very beginning of this that, in the Bible, 20 represents perfection in waiting? Being perfect is about "having all essential elements" and to wait is "to be available or in readiness". Listen, I don't care if you've been single for a while and you're totally sick of it at this point, you've recently broken up with someone, or your relationship is lying somewhere in the balance (if so, check out "Should You Take A Break? Or Break Up For Good?" and "Is Your Relationship Complicated? Simplify It With These Questions")—make the conscious decision to allow 2020 to be YOUR YEAR.
Focus on being clear about the essential elements that you desire—and require—for a successful relationship. Then make sure that you are truly ready for when those things arise. And don't forget that your path is just as important as the person—always remember that "your one" will check both boxes; he will be a great individual and he will complement your journey. Not either or—both.
Common and Angela—thank you for the pearls of wisdom that you shared with us in 2019. It is my hope and prayer that your wait is perfected in the very best way possible. xoTribe, the same goes for you. May 2020 either put you on your path or keep you on it…so that your person can meet you there. Not just any guy. The right one. Just you wait, sis. Just. You. Wait.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Is He REALLY The One Who Got Away?
The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have
If Your Man Is Missing These Things, Wait Before Marrying Him
Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship
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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.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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