Sometimes, I'll happen upon some data that, while it doesn't surprise me one bit, I'm grateful to share it because it helps to confirm something that I find myself saying a lot. Today, what I'm referring to is what I hear, nonstop, from husbands when I'm in a lot of my sessions. I'm pretty sure that you can tell from the title that this is in the lane of sex specifically. And y'all, if there are two things that at least 70 percent of the men I speak with say that they wish they got more of, it's — pretty sure you're not shocked by this first one — sex followed by what I don't want to give away in this intro.
You know, there are a billion articles out here that touch on things like sexual technique, toys and positions. Yet the reality is, if you really want to be considered a great lover, there is something that trumps all of this. According to men, anyway. I'll get into it now.
What Does a Man Desire More than an Orgasm?
Recently, I read an article about a study that said there is something in particular that 95 percent of men (who participated) said that they wanted more than even the pleasure that they experience from sex itself. Can you guess what it is? Drum roll, please. It's to feel sexually desired. For that to happen, they really wanted their partner to initiate sex more often.
Instantly, when I read that, I thought about another article that was published on Fatherly's site not too long ago. It's entitled, "Why Am I Always the One Initiating Sex?". It gets into some of the reasons why wives oftentimes don't take the lead in this area including men having higher testosterone levels (which can make them more "aggressive" on the sexual tip); women being conditioned to let a man make the first move; women (especially mothers) being too tired to initiate sex and, women sometimes having lower libidos, in part, because they feel exhausted (those are just some of the leading factors, by the way).
Most of y'all know that I work with married couples for a living, so yes — all of these reasons are quite viable. However, another reason that I think needs to go on record is, a lot of us don't make sexually affirming men a top priority. It's like we've got this wack mentality that, so long as we're giving him some, that should be all that he requires; when, the reality is, contrary to popular belief (or is it assumption?), men have feelings, men want to feel wanted, men don't always want to take the lead in the bedroom.
So, why don't a lot of us realize this? A point that the article I read made is, while there are plenty of studies on what women desire sexually, there hasn't always been much published data on men. Now that things are changing, we're getting to understand men more on a mental and emotional level in this lane. And according to the study, feeling desired by their partner was "very important" to 58 percent of them, "extremely important" to 20 percent and "paramount" to eight percent. Yes y'all, it's a really big deal.
To confirm what, again, I already believe to be true, I decided to ask some men who I personally know about their thoughts on all of this. If you're curious, I'll share with you what five of them said.
5 Men Tell Me How Being the “Main Initiator” for Sex Makes Them Feel
Alex. 26. Single. "I'm gonna speak freely and say that if I have to initiate all of the time, that makes me think that the woman has a sense of entitlement. Like I should be so grateful that she's willing to have sex with me that I should be willing to do all of the work. Plus, women like that tend to not do a lot in bed overall. They'll just lay there. It's a turn-off."
Zachary. 34. Married. "When my wife and I were dating, she initiated a lot. It was about two years into our marriage that it started to change. I think it's because, since we were long-distance [while dating], there was a lot of thrill and excitement. After marriage, you can easily take each other for granted. That about sums it up. When women refuse to initiate, we feel taken for granted."
Josh. 30. Single. "I thought y'all hated patriarchy? OK, so where does all of this 'it's a man's job to seduce' come in? Lawd, pick a team and stay there. Just like you want to feel like we can't wait to tear your clothes off, we want to feel the same way."
Victor. 41. Divorced. "There's never one reason why a couple calls it quits. A big part of what caused my marriage to end is my wife had the philosophy that we could have sex whenever I initiated it but if I didn't, she could easily go weeks or months without it."
"One time, I waited to see how long she could go without bringing sex up. Eight months. And even then, I had to ask her what the deal was. She just said that sex wasn't that much of a priority to her, which meant that intimacy with us wasn't, which meant that I wasn't. If you're never initiating, don't assume that your man is cool with it. I can guarantee that he's not."
Donovan. 37. Single. "How are we supposed to know how you feel about us if you never initiate? If you are fine not having sex unless we make the first move, that sends the message that either sex isn't a priority for you or that you've got someone else on the side. People initiate sex because they enjoy it. If you're in a relationship and you're not doing that, you're sending a message that you might not be aware of — but we're taking note of."
Whew. All of this loudly expresses that if you thought that not initiating wasn't all of that big of a deal, clearly it is. So, what if you're someone who knows that you're not the best at initiating sex and therefore, you're not as consistent as you could — and probably should — be about making your partner feel more desirable? What should you do?
5 Ways to Make Your Partner Feel More Desirable in the Bedroom
1. Tell Your Man What You Adore About Him. Sexually.
Question. When's the last time that you gave your man a compliment? I'm not talking about saying something just to butter him up (so that you can get something out of him) or offering an affirmation in response to something positive that he just said to you. I mean, hitting him up out of the blue, just to tell him how amazing that you think he is. OK, now when have you done that as it relates to him sexually? You know — telling him what you love about his body, what your favorite thing is about him sexually or what you enjoy the most when the two of you are intimate. Even when life gets a little hectic and the two of you aren't able to have sex right then and there, taking the initiative to verbally affirm your partner is a very powerful way to make him feel desired. It also lets him know that sex is on your mind which, oftentimes, for men, is more than enough (for a while, anyway).
2. Plan Some Sex Dates
When you get a chance, check out "When's The Last Time You And Your Man Had A 'Sex Date'?" and "Tonight's The Night For A Really Romantic Sexual Experience". After you do, did you know that it's been cited that 45 percent of couples don't go on dates on a consistent basis? So, you already know that a sex date is like a rainbow unicorn for a lot of these folks. Listen, I can't think of one man who wouldn't be absolutely thrilled — and maybe even a little bit shocked — by a partner planning a date that has strictly sex on the menu. It definitely lets them know that you want some alone time with them, not to have dinner and watch a movie either. It's to have sex. And then some more sex. Sex dates are a male fan favorite. Yes, I have polled.
3. Sext More Often
If your man, out of the blue, shot you a text that said, "Damn. You're so good in bed" or "I can't ever get enough of you", how would it make you feel? Exactly.
Sexting is definitely a form of foreplay; however, it goes a bit deeper than that. It helps to boost your partner's self-esteem. It makes him feel sexually appreciated. It lets him know that you've got him on your mind, on a sexual level, even when you're apart.
How can someone not feel desired after a few sexts have been exchanged?
4. Give Him a “Sex” Gift
Another way to make your partner feel like he is sexually wanted is to by him a sex-themed gift. Some lingerie (for you) that's in his favorite color. Some massage oil that comes with a sexy lil' note. A hotel reservation. A sex-themed board game. A sex toy. A sex pillow. You get the idea. Put it on his pillow. On the desk in his (home) office. Even better, mail it. All of us feel special when we receive a present. It goes up a notch when the present has a sex-theme attached to it.
5. When’s the Last Time You Had a Quickie?
The five men who I spoke with in this piece? Something else I asked them was how they felt about quickies. It was interesting because, while you might assume that they all were down, 4 out of 5 said that they definitely prefer longer sessions. However, when it comes to feeling more desired by their partner, what they did like about them is it sent the message of "Even if I can only have you for a moment, I'll take it. That's how much I lust you right now." Listen, I'm all about quickie sessions from time to time because it can still connect you with your partner and create a release that will help to relax you. So, whether it's as soon as you get home tonight or first thing in the morning tomorrow, initiate one of those. Your man will feel wanted, you will feel less stressed and the combo can help to make things seem so much better in the world. For real, doe.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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How To Have A Successful Hot Girl Summer
Summer is upon us, and you know what that means: It's time for a hot girl summer! The term exploded in popularity a few years back, and it’s all about encouraging women to flirt, have fun, and of course, enjoy some good ol' safe sex. But amidst all the fun, it's essential to have the right tools to protect yourself and your partner.
So, if you’re single and ready to mingle, here are a few helpful tips on how to have the best hot girl summer possible.
Start with self-care.
It's no secret that confidence is key when it comes to having a good time. Before you start swiping on dating apps or heading to the bar scene, take some time to indulge in self-care. Get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, and pamper yourself with a spa day. Having a fresh look and feeling good about yourself will boost your confidence and make you feel unstoppable.
Protect yourself and your partner.
Hot girl summer is all about having fun, but safety must come first. Before engaging in any sexual activity, make sure you and your partner use protection, whether it's a condom or other methods. Keep in mind STDs can still spread even with precautions, so it's important to get regular STD testing, especially if you're seeing multiple partners.
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Set boundaries and don't compromise.
It's common for women to feel pressured to do things they're not comfortable with during casual sex. In a hot girl summer, it's essential to set clear boundaries and not compromise on what makes you comfortable. If your partner doesn't respect your limits, then it's a sign they're not worth your time.
Be open-minded and explore.
If you want to spice up your summer, try exploring new sexual experiences and positions with your partner(s). For inspiration on what sex positions to try, check out articles on our site like this, this, and this. However, it's always important to make sure you're both on the same page and comfortable with what you're doing. Consent is key.
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Date like it's your job.
With summer in full swing, dating becomes easier, and more people are open to meeting new individuals. Take advantage of this opportunity and start swiping on dating apps, or if you're more traditional, head to the bars or local events. It's important to remember that dating isn't about finding someone to settle down with; it's about having fun experiences and meeting new people.
Be honest about what you want.
Be honest with yourself. If you want a serious relationship, seek it out, but if you want to go on a casual date, go on a casual date. Hot girl summers mean doing whatever it is you want to do and not settling. Just be sure to communicate and be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for.
It's all about having fun, enjoying yourself, and exploring your sexuality. But it's crucial to remember that safety comes first. Use protection, get regular STD testing, set boundaries, and don't compromise. Be open-minded and explore new sexual experiences, but never forget to prioritize your comfort level, and don't let anyone pressure you into doing things you're not comfortable with. With these tips and tricks, you'll surely have the best hot girl summer yet.
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