Damn time flies. It was about this time last year when I wrote "10 Things You Should DEFINITELY Know About Condoms" for the site. Well, now I'm back and it's pretty much due to two convos I recently had with two male friends of mine. One just had a pregnancy scare with a sex partner. The other is a guy with herpes who, although he tells his partners that he has it beforehand, he goes without wearing a condom more times than not — and his partners are fine with it. What the hell, y'all?
Both discussions inspired me to check certain data to see if anything had changed when it comes to men and condom use, in general. Nope. That said, did you know that only around one-third of people actually put a rubber on during sex? Have mercy. Even with all of these STI/STDs (reportedly, 1 in 5 Americans have one) and the fact that a lot of people (including my friend who had the scare) profess they are not ready for kids (or they don't want any at all), folks are still raw-dogging it. And a top reason continues to be, "I don't like how condoms feel."
So, in the effort to get more folks (including my friends because I am going to forward this to them) to wrap it up more often, here are a few hacks that are proven to make condom use a much more pleasurable experience than simply buying one at Walgreens or CVS and just putting it on.
1. Get Out of Drugstores
Say that you only bought your clothes at Target. Not that there's anything wrong with that particular store but man — when you actually explore department stores, boutiques and fashion websites, it's like it's a whole new world out here, right? Same thing goes for condoms. A part of the reason why a lot of people don't like them very much is because they only really think about them the day they plan on gettin' some which means that they've got to rush to some drugstore (or gas station) up the street to pick something up real quick.
Listen, not all condoms are made the same and to say that there are levels in quality is a major understatement! One of the keys to enjoying condoms more is to purchase them from a place that has a wide variety. A cool online shop is Condoms Undercover. The options are vast. The prices are good. And it ships to you confidentially. Awesome.
2. The Thinner, The Better
As a marriage life coach and a doula, I find myself talking about birth control options quite a bit. Because some of the couples I work with would prefer to avoid the hormones that come with a lot of birth control options, some wear condoms. While the mere thought of that can suck when you're in an exclusive long-term relationship, what several husbands have been able to personally vouch for is the fact that the technology of condoms are continuing to evolve and there are some thinner ones that make protected sex a lot more bearable — pleasurable even.
So, be intentional about finding ones that are as thin (and yet still effective) as possible; the kind that seem almost like a second skin. One that gets a lot of praise in this department is Kimono MicroThin Condoms. As far as thin latex condoms go, they are some of the most popular ones on the market.
3. Make Sure He Wears One That Actually Fits
While going raw (not wearing a rubber) would usually be preferred by both the giver and receiver (because, I mean, come on), whether they realize it or not, a big part of the reason why a lot of men don't enjoy condoms is because they don't fit well. And that's because it seems like every man in the world thinks he needs a Magnum…when that absolutely is not the case. There's no telling how many times I've said that most penises are around 5-5.5" erect. This means that a lot of men can go without a rubber that comes in an extra-large. Anyway, as far as general sizes go, condoms tend to be classified as snug, standard, large or XL.
For your partner to know what will work for him, he should measure his penis when it is erect and go from there. For tips on how to do that, so that condoms can end up being a comfy fit, check out Medical News Today's article "How to Find the Right Condom Size".
4. Nix the Spermicide
Although some people are allergic to latex itself (if that's you or your partner, there are latex-free options), oftentimes, when it comes to discomfort, the bigger culprit is the spermicide that's inside of many of them. While spermicide is pretty effective when it comes to killing sperm, it can also irritate genitalia if you're not careful. That's why you should probably go with a condom that doesn't have any spermicide in/on it. Will that make it less effective? So long as your partner puts the condom on correctly and it remains on during intercourse, most health professionals agree that you should be just fine. Besides, a lot of brands don't even use spermicide anymore. #themoreyouknow
5. Put Some Lube Inside of It
Hey, the wetter, the better…right? I'm pretty sure that's a point that isn't up for debate. It's also a reason why some people give the thumbs down when it comes to condom use because, even if you give off a sensation of wetness, since there is a condom on your partner, it's not like he can feel it feel it.
One way to work around this lil' bit of frustration is to put some lubrication inside of the condom itself, even if you're planning on using a pre-lubricated one. If your partner puts some on the tip of his penis before putting the condom on or within the tip of the condom before unrolling it, that can help to provide a more intense sensation. Water or silicone-based is fine.
6. Get One with “Bumps” on It
You don't even have to tell me. The thought of anything sexually related having "bumps" on it doesn't seem very appealing. However, it did make you look and the reality is a lot of textured condoms have exactly that — raised dots on them. And why should you consider going with those if you haven't before? It's because they have a way of creating extra friction (in the best way possible) which ultimately creates more intense orgasms for you. No one is saying that you have to use these. Still, if you've never given them a shot before, there's no time like the present to knock something else off of your "never have I ever" list. Right?
7. Put It on Orally
If your partner hates wearing a condom with everything in him, even if he knows that it really is a very responsible thing to do, warm him up to the idea by opting to put the condom on for him — with your mouth. It's sexy. It's seductive. And, if you apply the following tip that I'm about to make, it could actually cause you to become a really big fan of condoms. At least when it comes to oral activity.
8. Have You Tried the Flavored Kind?
It really does trip me out how, some people will be quick to say that they use condoms for intercourse but then will turn around and say that they never use 'em when it comes to oral sex. What in the world? Pretty much any STI/STD that can be transmitted during intercourse can also be passed on during fellatio and/or cunnilingus too. That's why you should definitely make sure that you and your partner are tested before ANY kind of sexual activity goes down. Oh, and if you want to be extra safe, you should use condoms during oral sex as well.
Listen, I'll be the first one to say that back in my "oral fulfillment days", I wasn't the biggest condom-user; especially when it came to head. Part of the reason was because I loathe the way that regular condoms taste (kinda like a rubber tire from the way it smells alone). Yet I wasn't really on to flavored condoms either.
I've tasted a few, so that I can give my honest opinion for pieces like this (and to prepare for when I return to them). And while they aren't exactly a hot fudge sundae, what I will say is they can make oral safe sex way more enjoyable for you and your partner. For you because they taste pretty good and him because, the more you enjoy giving fellatio, the more he will enjoy receiving it. Sex Toy Helper is a site that can point you in the direction of some of the best flavored rubbers on the market right now. Read about it right here.
9. Close Your Legs (Kinda)
Remember how I said that textured condoms can provide a good kind of friction feeling? So can keeping your legs somewhat closed when you're having sex. I mean, of course they can't be kept all the way closed. But if you're on top and you put your legs inside of his (rather than traditionally kneeling outside of them) or you put both of your legs over his shoulder while he's penetrating you, these are the kinds of sexual positions that can also take the sensation up a few notches when he's got a condom on (especially if the lube trick that I talked about earlier is added).
10. Think Positive
If you go in saying something along the lines of "I hate condoms", there's not too much wiggle room to change your mind, hacks or not. Listen, again, having sex without a rubber feels better (especially for the guys). Still, when you think about the fact that it can prevent you from getting sick or having a baby when you don't want one, how can you not have a little bit of love for it? The right one. The right hacks. The right position. The right partner. This combo can make condom-wearing (and feeling) better than you think. Just try the hacks and see.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images
- A Beginner's Guide To Lubricant - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love ... ›
- My Complicated Relationship With Safe Sex - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- How Men Compare Sex with a Condom vs No Condom - xoNecole ... ›
- Men Using Pull Out Method During Sex - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Allergic To Condoms? Latex Condom Allergy, Try This - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Pleasurable Sex With Different Penis Sizes Small Average Big - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash