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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If there’s one part of the face that seems to be the most vexing to correct, it’s the under eyes.
This delicate area has a way of being tipped off by our irregular sleep patterns, stress, and the straining that comes from our computers and phone screens. From puffiness to dark circles, it can be irksome to find the right products to soothe our under-eye concerns. Thankfully, there’s one solution that delivers a brighter and more awakened look over time, and that’s under-eye masks and eye patches.
Eye patches are giving our under-eye bags an eviction notice because they can’t hang our glowing faces rent-free. The beauty of these patches is that they are designed to bring your eyes targeted results through concentrated doses of active ingredients directly to the skin under the eyes. Typically made of thin, gel-like material and infused with ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and even green teas, these small but mighty patches depuff your puffiness, brighten your dark circles, or tighten fine lines.
While every under-eye differs in its needs, every eye can benefit from an under-eye mask or patch that suits its concerns. And to help, we’ve put together the best under-eye patches to hydrate, soothe, and brighten your eyes.
The KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, 5-Pack, is a retinol-infused, all-natural product designed to rejuvenate your eyes. It promises to provide hydration, smoothness, reduced puffiness, and brightness without the use of chemicals. With ingredients like retinol to refine skin texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness, it's like getting 8 hours of beauty sleep for your eyes.
These cooling hydrogel under-eye masks from Topicals promise to fade the appearance of dark circles and discoloration in just 15 minutes. The set includes six masks and offers benefits that brighten, hydrate, depuff, and cool your under-eye area.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Brightening Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
Grab these eye contour gel patches to brighten the eye area and combat signs of aging using a powerful form of vitamin C called THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C.
BeautyBio's Bright Eyes consists of 15 colloidal silver-infused eye gel patches designed to provide instant depuffing, brightening, and revitalization to the delicate eye area within 10 minutes. They also contain natural collagen to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, which we love.
These viral hydrogel masks offer moisture and nourishment to rejuvenate tired-looking skin. Their Snail Secretion Filtrate contains "Mucin," an effective moisturizing ingredient that soothes damaged skin and delivers deep hydration, making it suitable for dehydrated and damaged skin types. Your under-eyes will thank you.
Try these caffeine-infused patches to reduce puffiness in the under-eye area. The product features clean, vegan ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and moisture delivery.
The Forever Eye Mask is designed to be the “last eye mask you'll ever need.” This thin, lightweight, and reusable eye patch can hold gels, serums, and creams close to the skin for better absorption, helping your skincare products work more effectively.
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