I'm a quotes person, right? Well, one of my all-time favorite ones is, "Complain to someone who can help you." While I certainly don't profess to have all of the answers when it comes to sex, after working with couples for many years now, there are 10 major problems that I tend to hear, on loop. So, I figured that there's a pretty good chance that some of y'all may either be experiencing them as well or, you know someone who says their sex life currently sucks and they're looking for the reason(s) why that could be the case.
These aren't all of the challenges that couples face. Yet I do think that if fireworks aren't currently going off in your world, reading this might help to connect some dots, create some solutions and get you back to being all hot 'n bothered, in the best way possible, tonight.
I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that one of my favorite movies isThe Fault in Our Stars and one of my favorite lines in it is when one of the characters says, "A lot of times, we don't understand the promises we make when we make them." Man, if I could provide a bottom line statement for why so many married couples divorce, that would have to be it. A lot of folks don't take the "my word is bond" approach to their marriage vows and so, they'll call it quits, for just about any reason these days; including boredom. Yep. More and more, boredom is becoming a leading cause for why relationships are ending and sex lives are suffering. The love can be there. The chemistry can be there. And still, if folks feel like things have become too routine and ho-hum, they'll dip out.
If you're reading this and nodding your head up and down because, while you're not thinking about ending your relationship, you're literally bored to tears, it's not OK to simply — pardon the pun — lay down and take it. If you do, it could lead to resentment and/or faking it and/or cheating. If you're bored, you definitely need to let your partner know. Not just outside of the bedroom, inside of the bedroom too because if having sex with your partner is basically like watching paint dry, you deserve sooooo much more.
Solution: You and your partner should consider putting together a sex bucket list on an annual basis. Have each of you jot down 12 things that you'd like to try and then attempt to do two of them (one from each person's list) every month. It's an easy way to break up the monotony, add more spice to your boudoir and give you something to look forward to too.
2. Different Sleep Schedules
According to several studies, around 75 percent of long-term couples do not go to bed at the same time. While on the surface, this might not seem like such a big deal, the reason why this isn't something to shrug off is, due to hectic schedules, a lot of people aren't able to get any quality time in with their boo until they are able to crawl into bed and pillow talk with them. Not to mention that it can be hard to get some if you're a night owl, your partner is an early riser and you'd prefer to have sex at midnight while they want it at 5 a.m. The result? Only sex on the weekends or sometimes, even less than that.
Solution: There are many couples I've worked with where having different sleep schedules has been a huge cause of why they have sex less and less. My suggestion has been to compromise. While it might not be realistic to expect you and your partner to cuddle up together, at the same time, each and every night, there should be at least two nights a week that it does indeed occur. It ups the chances for some much-needed quality time, feeling emotionally connected and…getting some as well.
3. Body Changes
I don't care how old you are when you get into your relationship, at some point, your body is going to change. Age changes us. Hormonal shifts change us. Having children changes us. The list goes on and on. Thing is, if we don't stay on top of these realities, when we find ourselves having less sex, less stamina or fewer orgasms, it could result in us thinking that something is wrong with our relationship when really, it's just that physically, we are going through a bit of a transition.
Solution: I can't tell you how many people I know — mostly Black folks — who rarely ever go to the doctor. Listen, while I'm the first person to give westernized medicine the perpetual side-eye, there is something to be said for not "Google diagnosing" everything and actually having an annual physical. One of the benefits is so you can get your body — and hormone levels — checked out so that you can confirm that things are running smoothly.
Another thing to consider when it comes to body changes is to be intentional about remaining body positive when it comes to how you see yourself and your partner (check out "These 10 Hacks Will Help You Love Your Body More" and "10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem").
You know, I once had a blog that featured different married couples. When I asked one of the husbands what he loved about his wife's body, he said, "I love that when God created her, he had me in mind." This was a few years in and after kids, by the way.
Body changes are bound to happen. Taking care of your health while embracing your transitions is the key to remaining confident and maintaining a thriving sex life.
4. Mediocre Foreplay
I believe I shared before that, one time, when I was about to close out a series of sessions (years' worth, in fact) with a particular married couple and I asked both of them what they desired sexually from one another, moving forward. The wife said that she wanted to stop using her own saliva to make herself wet. What. In. The. Entire. World? She went on to share that while the intercourse itself was pretty on-point, the foreplay, oftentimes, was mediocre at best. And yes, while I know that can sound crazy on the surface, when you stop to really think about it, some folks can get the positions and strokes down yet the warming up stage is a bit subpar. This can oftentimes be the case with a couple who's been having sex for a while and has taken the seduction phase for granted or a couple who never really made mastering foreplay a priority in the first place.
Solution: A very basic definition of foreplay is a prelude to intercourse that consists of acts that lead to sexual stimulation. Earlier this year, when I wrote the article, "Mental Foreplay Hacks That Ultimately Takes Intercourse To New Levels" for the platform, it was to serve as a reminder that the best foreplay masters are people who know that it's important to stimulate the mind, body and spirit. Flirt. Cultivate ambiance. Be more romantic. Play around with phone sex. Dress up sometimes. Try things like orgasmic meditation. Up your oral sex game. Bring in some ice, fruit and chocolate. Get out of your bedroom. TAKE. YOUR. DAMN. TIME. When foreplay is treated like a part of the experience and not just "a way to get him hard or her wet real quick", it can make sex so much better — from beginning to end.
5. A Bonging Biological Clock
Babies are a blessing. I am reminded of this very fact, every time I am afforded the honor and privilege of helping to bring a baby into the world (as a doula). Unfortunately, for some couples, conceiving is way more difficult than it is for others. Believe you me, I get that. However, sometimes the desire to get pregnant can become so all-consuming that it ends up taking a real toll on a couple's relationship, including their sex life. Case in point, I know a wife who shared with me that she and her husband almost ended up getting a divorce while they were trying to have their daughter because a couple of years of "trying" resulted in sex that was so planned that it became mechanical which caused both of them to become turned off by the very act. A husband recently shared with me that he's considering cheating on his wife because all that she ever talks about is getting pregnant. It's gotten to the point that he doesn't even want to talk to her — or have sex with her — at all.
Solution: Sex is the most natural way to become pregnant. However, that is not the only purpose of the act. Shoot, the oxytocin boosts (which help you to feel closer to your partner) alone help to confirm that it's an activity that's also about emotionally connecting with your partner and experiencing an immense amount of physical pleasure. Y'all, something that I tell people who are trying to have a baby is it's a lot like making homemade chocolate chip cookies in the sense that, even when you've got all of the right ingredients together, you've still gotta give the oven time to do its job. Timing, along with good health and low stress, play a significant role in conception. CHILL. Besides, you don't want to be so obsessed with conceiving and/or your biological clock that it ultimately costs you a good sex life and, quite possibly, your relationship too.
6. Shifts in Sex Drives
It's kind of unfortunate that, when a couple isn't having as much sex as they typically do, the natural assumption tends to either be that someone is cheating or that someone isn't interested in their partner anymore. While both instances are sometimes the case, it should also go on record that certain medications, fatigue, anxiety, worry, too little or too much exercise, the abuse/misuse of alcohol or drugs, low self-esteem and even straight-up aging can play a direct role too. In other words, sometimes the mind is willing while the body or emotions are waning just a bit.
Solution: When it comes to this particular sex-related issue, it's a good idea to go by process of elimination. One way to approach this most effectively is to do a little sex journaling. Try and think back to when your sex life was pretty consistent. Then jot down any changes that have happened between now and then. If they're lifestyle-related, you'll know what to add or eliminate. If it's something that requires a professional's attention, make an appointment to see a doctor and/or a reputable therapist/counselor/coach. Very rarely does a sex shift (especially an abrupt one) transpire out of thin air for absolutely no reason. Be intentional as possible about getting down to the root cause and then sharing the results with your partner (encourage them to do the same). It's an effective way to get back on the same page — and consistency levels — again.
7. Going to Bed Looking…Not the Best
I'm a woman and sometimes, even I look at some women like, "Y'all are doing the most right now." And by "most", I mean not a helluva lot. Take how pissed a lot of Black women were when Mo'Nique admonished us about wearing bonnets in public. Listen, as someone who had grandmas, on the sides, who instilled the "Don't go out looking a hot mess" mentality to me, I get where she was coming from. However, what really made me be like, "Sometimes we as women just wanna be contrary to be contrary" is when I also recalled all of the hell that Derrick Jaxn's wife was sent through, again by Black women, for having a bonnet on in his "confession" (and her follow-up) video.
We've all got different styles. Noted. Still, why we would want to look like we just rolled out of bed in public is a little beyond me. Plus, as a wife of 35+ years had to say about it, "If you don't want to look the best for yourself, that says a lot about you. It's also going to cause issues in your relationship, whether you want to accept that fact or not." She's not wrong.
When it comes to what a lot of couples tell me is a huge hindrance in their sex life, you'd be amazed by how many times I hear that how their partner comes to bed is annoying AF. It's not just men who feel this way either. I mean, think about it — how is a big ass bonnet, footie PJs and older-than-most-of-your-kids boxers a turn-on? It isn't.
Solution: No one is saying that you've got to relive your prom when you're turning in. All I'm saying is there are too many different varieties of sleepwear out here for you to be looking like who-shot-Johnny. Even a tank top, some boy shorts and your hair up in a pineapple can be cute as hell. Some new boxer briefs for your man are pretty sexy too. Or, you can always do what is even more seductive and healthier for you. You can sleep naked. Amen? Hallelujah.
Wanna know a clear indication that either you are taking your partner for granted or they are doing it to you? It's if one of you is super lazy in bed. And just what does that even look like? Lazy lovers do the bare minimum. Lazy lovers are fine sticking to the same routine all of the time. Lazy lovers aren't that impressive when it comes to foreplay or afterplay (hell, a lot of them don't even know what afterplay even is). Lazy lovers barely ever go a second round. Lazy lovers lack creativity, seduction moves or ways to bring more spice into the relationship. And the crazy thing is, even if a lazy lover is able to get their partner off, after a while, that person is still going to feel like something is missing because, well, something is. Good lovers know that great sex isn't just about achieving a climax; it's about blowing your partner's mind before and afterwards too. Enough to go another round or two, for sure.
Solution: Two things that many lazy individuals have in common is a lack of planning and a ton of procrastination. That said, it's a good idea to keep in mind that synonyms for lazy include words like inattentive, passive, neglectful, out of it and dull. If you or your partner seem to reflect any of these words, on any level, it's time to reenergize your sex life. Plan a sexcation. Try some new sex positions. When's the last time you and your partner did it in the shower (check out "So, This Is How To Make Shower Sex So Much Better")? Have an oral sex "competition" to see who can go without having an orgasm the longest. Ask your partner to share a fantasy and then work to make it come true. The challenging thing about laziness when it comes to sex is it low-key sends a message of disinterest. No one feels desired or appreciated when that kind of energy exists.
9. Not Enough Emotional Intimacy
Something that a lot of men and women will certainly vouch for is, while you can enjoy the mechanics of sex with many people, the experience is so much better when there is a strong emotional connection between two people. When folks who are in a serious or long-term relationship feel a disconnect, this can definitely translate in their boudoir. The main reason why is because a lot of relationships get to a point and place that it's not so much the physical attraction that makes sex outstanding. Don't get me wrong, being physically drawn to your partner is important (some folks forget or underestimate this part). Still, knowing that you are loved, respected and adored, for reasons well beyond what you look like, can be a type of aphrodisiac that is truly unmatched.
Solution: When's the last time you wrote your partner a love letter? When's the last time you told them all of the things (that you can think of at the time) that you love and like about them? Can you recall the last truly memorable date that you went on? When's the last time you asked them what their goals and dreams are and really just sat there and listened? When you've been wrong, have you owned it and apologized (builds trust) or found some way to deflect and justify your actions (cultivates distrust)? Can you recall the last time you and your partner did nothing but joke around and laugh (was it longer than a couple of weeks ago)? When's the last time the two of you just cuddled up and talked until sunrise? Some of the best sex is when both people feel extremely safe in each other's presence. Emotional intimacy is definitely what can help to make that happen.
10. Faking Orgasms
I promise you, while I understand some of the whys behind why some women (and men) fake orgasms, you will never convince me that they are a good idea. For one thing, no matter how you cut it, faking is a form of dishonesty and secondly, if you're basically lying to your partner, how in the world is sex going to get any better? Case in point. There's a wife I know who's been faking orgasms her entire marriage (over 10 years) because she "doesn't want to hurt her husband's feelings". A couple of years back, they were going through a rough patch and she had an affair with an ex — a man who always made her climb the walls. Her husband doesn't know about either lie to this day. Tell me how that is a healthy situation. It's absolutely not one.
Solution: There's a male friend of mine who is oh so very confident that he's made every woman he's been with cum. When I asked him to provide me with the evidence of his confidence (eh hem, borderline arrogance), he talked about all of the screaming and shaking most of them would make. I simply asked, "Did you feel their vaginal walls contract?" What I got were crickets.
As we come to the end of this piece, the best solution for giving up fake orgasms for real ones is open and honest communication, followed by being highly attentive, so that you can learn your partner's body. That needs to be followed up with a willingness to be as patient, generous and willing to learn as possible. After all, orgasms are more of an art form than anything else. Meaning, oftentimes, they don't "just happen". They must be made to happen. That said, if there's one thing that will almost guarantee that you won't have (many of) them, it's faking it. So…don't. It's the first step to getting this particular sex problem…solved.
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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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
Featured image courtesy