You know what's a trip? A lot of relationships would run just fine if both individuals were focused on becoming better communicators. Communication is about expressing your thoughts and feelings. Communication is about imparting knowledge. Communication is about speaking in a way that cultivates a true connection.
Today, what we're gonna tackle is, how to know if you're an effective sexual communicator. This is super important because, just like relationships on the emotional tip can be spared when people connect well, a lot of sexual dynamics can significantly improve when clear and concise sexual connecting happens, even outside of the bedroom. And just how can you know that you (and your partner) are master sexual communicators? Let's dig in and see.
What Does Effective Communication Mean Overall?
If someone were to ask me to define good sex in 10 words or less, something that I'd probably say is, "Good sex is the result of two great communicators." Yet before I get into what it means to be a good sexual communicator, how about we touch on some things that make someone a good communicator overall.
The signs of a good communicator:
- Listen thoroughly
- Think before responding to something that was said
- Are thoughtful yet direct in conveying their thoughts
- Are conscious of timing when it comes to their approach
- Takes responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and delivery
- Are tone-sensitive
- Are not afraid to ask questions in order to get clarity
- Make no assumptions or rash judgments
- Are open to other insights and perspectives
- Know that body language is essential
OK. So, now that I've shared some telling signs of whether someone is a good communicator or not (which as you can see, is a pretty tall order), first ask yourself how well you and yours are, in general, when it comes to communicating with one another. Now, let's take a moment to look at how this all translates into sexual intimacy.
Do You Clearly Convey Your Sexual Wants and Needs?
I've got dozen-times-10 reasons why I'm not a fan of faking orgasms. One of the reasons is that, if you're constantly acting like you are sexually satisfied and fulfilled, why would your partner do anything different and why should he be blamed for not doing so? The entire point of communication is to connect with someone so that both individuals can feel heard and validated. If there is one place where this is of the utmost importance, it's when it comes to copulation. So yeah, if you're an individual who is a good sexual communicator, a clear indication of that is you have no problem stating what your sexual wants and needs are.
Before going any further, let me shed a bit more light on this particular point. First, stating your needs is not about making demands. Barking orders isn't good communication; it's actually rude AF. What I mean is you're not about mincing words, constantly dropping hints, or being passive-aggressive. If you like foreplay to last longer than a couple of minutes, you say that. If doggy style is your least favorite sexual position, you are fine with bringing that up too.
My second point is there is a bit of a difference between sexual wants vs. sexual needs. A want could be to have sex in public. Your partner may never want to do that, so while that reality might slightly suck, it's probably not a real deal-breaker. On the other hand, cunnilingus may be a need because maybe it's the only way that you're able to climax. Knowing the difference between what your wants and needs are and then being able to explain them both, without hesitation or embarrassment to your partner, is definitely a sign that you are a good sexual communicator.
Do You Ask Your Partner How You Can Please Them?
If there are three times when I think a lot of women could stand to realize that they are more selfish than they probably want to accept it's 1) when it comes to only focusing on what their boo should do for them on Valentine's Day; 2) wedding planning, as if there is not a whole 'nother individual involved; and 3) taking the time to make sure that they know what their partner's wants and needs are in the bedroom rather than merely assuming that they already know. Listen, I work with a lot of couples where the wife has gotten so arrogant that she assumes that all her husband needs is for her to be naked and ready. If that's not enough for us, why should we think that is enough for the man in our life?
It can't be said enough that communicating is about making a connection and the best kind of sexual connection is when both partners are deeply engrossed in making sure that the other is pleased to the utmost. If you can't recall the last time you asked your man what he desired in order to feel sexually gratified, there is a breakdown in communication somewhere. Besides, men fake it too. If you just read that and Kanye shrugged, that's another red flag on the sexual communication tip. The communication tip overall, actually.
Do You Know the Difference Between Sex and Intimacy?
Not all sex is intimate. And that really can't be said enough. I mean, dogs have sex and it's not exactly intimate; they do it because they're in heat. You can hire someone to have sex with you who you've never seen a day in your life and will never see following the moment. There's nothing intimate about that either. Intimacy is about having a warm and personal relationship with someone. Intimacy is about mutual trust being established. Intimacy is about two people who care for each other on a very real and profound level. Intimacy is about reciprocity and a form of interdependence. Intimacy is about knowing someone while you feel known by them. A good sexual communicator is just as interested in cultivating intimacy as they are in sexual pleasure.
Different people have different opinions (and convictions) on what this kind of intimacy should consist of. Some would say marriage. Others would say a long-term relationship. Others would say a mutual understanding of some sort. Some don't think intimacy is necessary at all. What I will say about all of this is 1) not too many people, male or female, would disagree with the perspective that sex is better when intimacy is involved and 2) just make sure that you know the difference between sex and intimacy before having sex. Many people have had all kinds of things lost in translation because they assumed that since they had sex with someone, some sort of intimacy took place. Yes, oxytocin (a hormone that physically bonds two people) was triggered. However, as far as a mental and emotional bond goes—don't be so sure. You can only be confident if it was…communicated.
Do You Understand That Men and Women Are Different? By Design?
Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that God made us male and female. God made us that way. A female child is born with XX chromosomes and a male one comes with XY. Women have more estrogen. Men have more testosterone. Women have vaginas. Men have penises. Lord knows that I could go on and on but where I am ultimately going with this is men and women are different—by design. Whew, I can't tell you how many times that I have sat in a counseling session and looked at a wife and was like, "Did you just want to marry yourself but with a penis?" There are so many "issues" in male/female relationships that wouldn't have to be that way if both genders simply accepted that they are not meant to be twins; that the differences are supposed to bring about a balance.
A good example is the fact that a lot of men typically have a high sex drive. It's not because they are "sex freaks"; a big part of it is because of all of the testosterone in their system. Sometimes what I share with wives in sessions is it's interesting that many women want men to be the providers in relationships and yet, once their man initiates sex often, all of a sudden there's a problem. Your man providing you with sex—hopefully good sex—means that he's providing you with sperm/semen. If you check out "Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm", you'll be able to see how that can be a real blessing in an abundant of ways, chile. So yeah, another point that can't be overlooked when it comes to being a good sexual communicator is the fact that you bring some specific things to the table as a woman and your partner does the same—only, as a man. Some things aren't going to be alike. And that's OK. That's how it's supposed to be.
How Are You with Non-Verbal Sexual Communication?
Author Peter Drucker once said, "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." There are many things that comprise of sex being totally off the chain. One of them is being able to decipher non-verbal communication. Can you tell when your partner is horny? Do you know their erogenous zones without them spelling it out for you? During sex, are you able to tell what's working and what isn't? Something that I've asked many men before is if they're sure they know the difference between a genuine and a fake orgasm (because if a man is really paying attention, he should be able to tell).
By the same token, can you tell when your partner is fully into it or simply pacifying you? While being able to speak openly and honestly about sex is good, right, and healthy, you also need to be able to pick up on non-verbal sex cues because, just like 80 percent of all communication is non-verbal, at the end of the day, a whole lot of good sexual communication is non-verbal too.
Are You Comfortable with Initiating Sexual Conversations?
A couple of years ago, I wrote "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight." for this platform. Once you're done reading this, I would encourage you to check it out and to also shoot it over to your partner. Remember how at the top of this piece, I shared that good communication consists of timing and asking questions in order to gain clarity? Something else that good sexual communicators are able to do is figure out when the most ideal moment is to talk about all of this (usually it's NOT during sex; that can make your partner uncomfortable or self-conscious) and then to ask questions to get the insight that is necessary. Not only being intentional about having sexual conversations as a way to convey that your sex life is a priority to you, it can also cause both of you to feel safer and more at ease.
Sometimes, couples will tell me that their sex life sucks. Then, after having a conversation like this, they realize that the act isn't the problem—lack of communication is. If your boudoir is not as stellar as you would like right through here, perhaps you are in the same boat. Communicate with your partner. Let them do the same. It might be a very simple way to get (back) to climbing the walls, sis. For real, for real.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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It seems like 2023 was a whirlwind, flying by a bit too quickly for many of us. And now that we're approaching the last month of the year, there's a push to prep for a great 2024. I'm not a huge fan of resolutions---as I never keep mine, and I'm unapologetically not sorry for that---but I'm heavy into at least getting a head start on looking forward to the possibilities of a fresh start, finally achieving a few lingering goals, and embracing more adventure.
If you're ready to plan ahead, it's the perfect time to make December count in order to plan for a successful new year. Here are a few fun ideas to get you started.
1. Host a reflection party.
Hey, you could do this alone, but you could also make it fun and interactive by inviting friends or industry friends to reflect on the highs and the lows of the year. Create a theme, offer customized cocktails, and talk about what each of you has accomplished, reminisce on the fun times you've had, talk about the challenges you've faced, and set a few goals. Add in a few fun activities like vision boarding or career mapping.
You could also have one last girls trip and attend a conference or networking event together. After each session, take the time to put on pajamas and reflect on what was learned, who you met, and how you'll apply pressure in your careers next year.
2. Declutter and reorganize.
If you haven't been purging throughout the year, December is a great time to get a head start. All those old clothes or shoes that you don't wear? Sell or donate them. If you need help, have a consultation with a professional organizer or watch a few good tutorials on Konmari methods.
Still holding on to furniture, appliances, or other home decor that really isn't functional, doesn't scream home for you, or needs an upgrade? Go thrifting, shop around, or treat yourself to interior decorating services.
If you can't afford to do any of those, move a few things around, repurpose your household items, or try DIYs. Sometimes a bit of paint or moving your home office into a different room can be small changes that lead to big differences in mood or convenience at home.
And, as mentioned before, invite a few friends, family, or bae, and make it another excuse to close out the year with good drinks, laughter, and connection.
3. Create a bucket list.
From your career to your personal life, it's good to write down your dream or must-do activities to get clear on what you want to accomplish in the new year and to serve as a nudge for accomplishment. And it doesn't have to be grand goals like "Save a million dollars," (though, if that's a bucket-list contender for you, go off, sis, and get that money.) It can be places you want to travel to, concerts you want to attend, professional development courses you want to take, or new adventurous experiences you want to enjoy.
One thing I like about bucket lists is that I don't approach them in the traditional way, where I feel pressure to do these things before the Lord calls me home. I like to think of a bucket list as a fun guideline that will help me get clear on what excites me, what I need to do to grow, and what challenges me to push past self-inflicted boundaries.
4. Prioritize wellness.
If you've slacked off a bit or know you might be facing a few issues in the health and wellness department, now is the time to start prioritizing. Set those last appointments for a full physical, gynecological, or dermatologist visit, follow-up tests, or therapy for next year. Sign up for fun fitness classes and schedule a few visits to the spa while you're at it.
Block out time in your schedule for meditation, prayer, religious services, and exercise, and go ahead and change that calendar setting to "daily" or "weekly." Set email updates and other ways to remind yourself to put wellness at the top of your priority list leading into the new year.
If you're already pretty consistent with your fitness and wellness goals, try a new activity or incorporate new technology to level up a bit and challenge yourself more. Try a new skincare routine, join a running group, or learn a new activity that requires movement, such as dance, karate, or boxing. Mix things up a bit so that you can enrich your experience on the journey.
5. Take an honest look at your finances and adjust accordingly.
If you're reading this, I'm sure you know the importance and power of budgeting, no matter how much money you make. Getting into a habit of knowing exactly how much you earn and how you're spending those earnings is vital to your success and financial freedom. If you have goals for next year that will require a significant shift in your budget, you'll need to adjust.
Be realistic and account for the things you enjoy doing, your lifestyle, your debts, and your other financial obligations. If you have vacations or other big events planned, be sure your budget accommodates them or set goals in order to save up. If you've experienced a major transition such as a marriage, divorce, or addition to your family, take some time to reflect on how your income is impacted and what you might need to do to ease the transition when it comes to your pockets.
Research ways you can make residual income, how you can invest, start a side hustle, and prep for retirement. (As much as some of you would like to think you're too young to think about that, imagine how much more of a nest egg you'd have if you started saving for retirement in your 20s or 30s.)
And don't sleep on insurance beyond coverage for your car or healthcare. Life, long-term care, and disability insurance are important if you have children, want to be sure your loved ones are taken care of financially in the future, or if you want to protect assets such as your income, home, or business.
Think about your prep for next year holistically and start this December to ensure that you're going into 2024 with a mindset and intention for success.
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