When I turned 45 this past summer, I wrote an article about what I would've told my 25-year-old self. While I did touch on a few relationship points, I think, in hindsight, that the reason why I left this one out, is because it really does deserve a write-up of its own. The reason why I say that is because, when I look back on some of the greatest sex that also turned out to be some of the most profound faux pas that I've ever experienced in my entire life, it was because of the title of this piece right here.
If there is one thing that I admire about people who wait until marriage before doin'-the-do, it's the fact that they made a formal long-term commitment before givin' it up; on their wedding night, they don't have to wonder if the feelings are real or if the person they just had sex with will be there the next morning…or even 20 years later (God willing). When it comes to all of the intensity and closeness that transpires, there's no need to try and figure out what part is physical and what part is emotional—what part they need to question and what part they can fully trust in. It doesn't matter. The love is there, the connection is solidified—great sex and a great life partner (again, God willing) are able to go hand-in-hand.
But what if you see sex differently from those who choose to wait until their "I dos"? Is there some sort of automatic way to keep from confusing good sex with a great relationship? I'm not sure if there is a ton of scientific data on that, but girrrrl—what I can share with you is a few things that life certainly taught me on this particular topic.
Ponder What Draws You to Him Outside of His Performance
My first sex partner was my first love. We were both young and didn't have a clue what we were doing. Plus, due to his immaturity, it took him a while to "sign on" to certain activities (kindly refer to "What?! Only 35 Percent Of Men Go Down? Say It Ain't So" to get what I'm talking about). I think that's why my second sex partner was able to get—and get away with—so much. Y'all, when I say that man was f-i-n-e. All tall, chocolate and freaky too. Although in some ways, we were homies, if you were to ask me what his greatest personality or character traits were, I'd have to sit on that. He was witty, I'll give him that; still, it's not like I was mentally or emotionally altered for the best by his influence or anything.
That doesn't mean that I didn't think that I was at the time. Shoot, any man you lust who is more than willing to do stuff to you that your first love wouldn't (until years later) is someone who tends to give you all of the feels; feels that make you think there is something real. But trust me, if you can't really think of too many redeeming qualities other than how he puts it down, that is your first red flag that there might not be much there other than orgasmic aftershocks masking themselves as genuine emotional attachment.
Remember Intimacy and Attraction Aren’t Synonymous
If you take out a moment to at least skim the article "The Signs Of A Truly Intimate Relationship", you'll notice that sex isn't mentioned once. Affection is, but you can be affectionate with someone without any type of sexual activity transpiring. The reason why this is worth noting is because some people make the grave mistake of thinking that just because someone gives their stomach butterflies that it's automatically the beginning stages of intimacy. Nope. Just about every time that I see Kofi Siriboe in a pastel hue or Thomas Q. Jones in just about anything, my heart skips a beat. But I don't know them from Adam and they don't know me either.
Being attracted to someone simply means that they have some sort of quality that entices or allures. Intimacy? For real intimacy to happen, not only does it take time to cultivate, it has to go way beyond the physical. If the guy you're Jonesing for isn't someone you can share some of your deepest secrets with, if he doesn't nurture and cherish you and/or if you aren't able to say that you two have a strong friendship and spiritual bond—and get this, he is able to say that he sees you the same way—sure, the attraction may be strong…but that also might be all that is drawing the two of you together too.
Don’t Go into Sex with Lots of Assumptions
KevOnStage has a relatively new segment called "Dear Kev" that is comedy. He sits in one of his church suits, puts on a pair of glasses (even though he doesn't need them), reads questions and gives some of the worst TMI advice around. Oh, but as they say, a clock is right twice a day. In one of his latest offerings, Kev said, "When you see things through rose-colored glasses, red flags simply look like flags." Whew. Somebody sign up for that man's Patreon on that!
I can't tell you how many women have told me how upset they are because a guy they were having sex with "led them on" by making them think that they wanted a future with them. When I ask them what the man did to cause them to think that way, very rarely do they bring up him saying "I love you", him showing her off to his family and friends or him even really taking her out or talking about the future. Usually what I get is a blank stare followed by, "I mean, we've been having sex for months now." Then it's my turn to give them a blank stare.
When I once asked a male friend how so many men can have sex with women who they care absolutely nothing about, he simply said, "Do you think it's emotional for me to go and jack off in the shower? Jack off in a shower, jack off in a girl. One simply feels better but honestly, isn't always worth the headache."
That might've been hard to read, but that doesn't make it any less true. For better or for worse, a lot of men can clearly tell the difference between someone who they thoroughly enjoy having sex with vs. someone who they want to have a relationship with. Sometimes those two things are one in the same; sometimes they aren't. But what you don't need to do is be out here thinking that just because he "loves" the sex that it's a foreshadowing of him eventually falling in love with you. This brings me to my next point.
Know the Difference Between “Good to You” and “Good for You”
There's a guy who I once had a crush on who said something to me that took me a minute to really understand.
When he told me that he dug me in a lot of ways, but he didn't want to "take it there", his reason was, "I want to be good for you not to you". Translation—"If we have sex, it would probably be off the chain, but if I can't promise you more than that, it could end up hurting you in the long run. To me, that's just not worth it."
Oh, how those two little words—"to" and "for"—can totally alter a relationship. When a man is only looking for great sex, he may only care about being good to you. But if he's serious about guarding your heart, protecting a friendship and/or building something substantial, he's going to do things that are good for you. If that means queuing Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile" (have y'all seen her video boo Taimak lately? He's still fine) or even avoiding sex altogether—please remember your worth and value to know that sometimes there is true protection in that kind of rejection. If sex can't be good to you and for you, it's OK—recommended even—to take a hard pass. Or receive one.
Keep in Mind That Oxytocin Is One HELL of a Drug
As often as I have the opportunity to do it, I share a video of a woman who provides some of the straight-up insight on the physical consequences of sex that aren't discussed very often. For instance, did you know that if you have (unprotected) sex with two different guys within a few days, you will probably catch a cold because your body is made to only handle one set of sperm; therefore, it will abandon your immune system to get the other sperm out? Amazing.
The moral is this—Just because a lot of us may take a casual approach to sex, that doesn't mean that our body does. There are natural hormones like oxytocin that causes us to bond with our partner, no matter where our head may be at concerning him. That's why folks can have a one-night stand and end up damn near stalking the person the following week. They think it's an emotional connection when it could just be the oxytocin that's surging through their system. After all, they don't call it the "love hormone" for nothin'.
That said, one of my favorite quotes on hell is by an old English philosopher named Thomas Hobbes. He once said that, "Hell is truth seen too late." I can't tell you how many times an oxytocin high has caused me to not want to look at the real truth about a relationship (or situationship) that I was in. That denial caused me to send myself through some pretty hellish moments and experiences.
It takes more than sexual compatibility to make something last. If you choose to not believe that, one way or another, hell is exactly what you are headed for. If not today, someday. If not with the current guy, another one.
Avoid Deep Conversations in the Bedroom
I'm gonna be straight-up on this one. Unless you are a 16-year-old girl, I'm hoping you already know that it's a bit delusional and manipulative to wait until during sex to have first-time heartfelt and profound conversations. Just think about it—what exactly do you expect a guy to say to you when he's inside of you and you whisper, "Do you love me?" in his ear? If he doesn't and he decides to be honest with you about that, how do you expect the rest of that particular experience to go? (Hence the article "How Much Can You Trust 'I Love You' During Sex?")
I'm not saying that the bedroom is an off-limits space for verbal affirmations or emotional conversations. What I am saying is if there is something that you genuinely want to know, you should probably do it before or after sex—and not right before or right after either.
Remember in the movie A Thin Line Before Love and Hate when Darnell (played by Martin Lawrence) talked about getting some head that was so good that he said, "I love you" right in the midst of ejaculating? What he meant was I love it not her (clearly because he "passed her off" to one of his homies for a discount on a shirt). Knowing the difference is a total game-changer. It's a potential lifesaver too.
Pay Attention to How He Treats You When You Aren’t Hooking Up
Back when I wrote the article "5 Things That Are OK To Require On A First Date", some people found "require" to be too harsh of a word. When you think that time is something that you can never get back, I don't. Yes, men are grown. Yes, none of us can make them be chivalrous or honest when it comes to the answers to our questions that they give. But, at the same time, for every action, there is most certainly a reaction. If a guy doesn't meet our requirements, we are fully within our rights to not see him again.
Same thing goes for what we require before any nookie goes down. If you really want to know if you run the risk of mistaking a great sex partner for a great life partner, reflect on how he treats you whenever you're not naked or when he's not trying to get you naked. Does he take you out on dates (ones that are outside of both of you guy's homes)? Is he affectionate with you even without the need for sex? Does he call you during business rather than booty call hours?
If a guy is trying to cultivate an actual relationship, he's going to act like there is more to what the two of you have than the physical. He will initiate and be intentional about spending non-bedroom-related quality time as well. If you can't honestly say that this is what's transpiring…right. Whether you want to admit to yourself what's up or not, I've got a feeling that you know. Now what?
Check Your Own True Motives and Intentions
Sex is temporary. The experience, the feelings—all of it. That's why I am a firm believer that sex doesn't "make love"; sex celebrates love. In order for it to do that, love needs time to plant itself and grow. Moving on to my last point, if you're someone who desires nothing more than a good time, you're grown. Do you. But if you are truly feelin' someone and you're thinking that sex is going to be the "make love move" to get him to want the same things that you do—that's quite the gamble. Please rethink that strategy. It's not fair to either one of you if you're going to use sex to try and create a mental, emotional and spiritual bond. Sex shouldn't be a tool to get a man to want to be with you. It should be an experience to enjoy once you already know that he does.
I've been there when I say that a lot of us confuse a great sex partner for a great life partner because we weren't clear about our own true motives and intentions from the jump. If you want a relationship, work on building that before bringing sex into it. Because once he puts it on you, it's going to be harder to tell what's "the sex" and what's "the relationship". And sometimes, trying to figure out the difference is like trying to pull two pieces of paper that are joined by glue apart. There will be remnants and bewilderment that could take weeks, if not months, to work through. And believe you me, no matter how good the sex might be, the fall out (even if it's only internal) simply isn't worth it.
Can you have great sex and a great life partner. 100 percent. Should you use sex to try and make a great relationship happen? Absolutely not. If something lasting is what you want, let both of your emotions connect you before oxytocin does. You'll be able to trust your judgment a lot better that way. So will he.
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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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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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