If you're a diehard Girlfriends fan, you probably remember the episode when Joan had sex with her boyfriend Sean for the first time. Although she wasn't all that thrilled about him being a sex addict, what she didn't see coming was that he was going to totally suck—and not in the good way—in bed. Ugh. He ended up being one of those bang-bang-bang brothas and while luckily, those have been far and few between experiences for me personally, unfortunately I can recall what that kind of selfish, immature and egomaniacal sex is like. It's the worst…the absolute worst.
Anyway, a part of what made Girlfriends such a great sitcom is the writing was so much like real life. And believe you me, there have been countless conversations that I've had with people who love—or at least really like—their partner, but when it comes to loving (or even really liking) the sex…they can think about at least two dozen other things that they'd rather be doing. That's sad. Tragic, even.
Personally, I think that good sex consists of great communication. That's why, when someone is sexually dissatisfied, I don't encourage or support faking orgasms (more on that in a bit), only venting to their friends and/or quietly resenting their partner (or cheating). Sex is too good to not be out here enjoying it to the fullest, but there is a better way to go about getting what you want (and need). If you are sexually dissatisfied, here's how I advise handling the matter.
Do It Outside of the Bedroom
They say that timing is everything. You know what else is pretty important? Environment. Oh, and implementing the Golden Rule while you're in it. When it comes to having a sexually dissatisfied chat, think how you would feel if, while you were in the bed, giving your all to your partner, he paused, looked at you, sighed and then said, "Yeeeah, I'm not really feeling this. I haven't been for a while now." Talk about embarrassment. Talk about slight trauma. Talk about either being "afraid" to have sex with him again or not wanting to be in a relationship with him, period.
Does this mean that I'm encouraging you to grin and bear bad sex?? Absolutely not. But it is important to avoid having the convo in the very spot where all of the magic happens. Instead, do it on neutral territory like the living room or kitchen. Or even better, while taking a walk together outside of the home. That way, the conversation won't have to be associated with any area where the two of you regularly hang out—or are intimate.
Speak in Specifics
"Bad in bed". What does that even mean? I mean, we all get that bad is, well, bad, but what makes it that way for you? Is he a selfish lover? Is he a minute man? Is he a bang-bang-bang kind of dude? I'll tell you what, if there's one thing that constantly comes up in my sessions with couples, it's that a lot of women want their man to read their mind and a lot of men want their women to be specific when it comes to what it is that they are trying to say.
That's why, it's also a good idea that, before you embark on having this kind of conversation, that you spend some time alone so that you can figure out exactly what it is that you are so displeased with. He can't read your mind. He also can't change what you don't clearly (and lovingly) articulate.
Avoid Making Comparisons
Mama told us to think before we speak; I've got a great example of why we should take her advice. The first time I had sex with a particular partner, right when he pulled his pants down, my initial response was, "That's it?!" Le sigh. I didn't say it in my head either. He heard me. I didn't mean for him too…it's just that—peep this—in comparison to some of my other partners, let's just say that he wasn't what I was accustomed to.
That's kind of my point. As you're in the middle of processing how sexually dissatisfied you are with your partner, be honest about what it's really all about. Is it based on what he's not doing, or is it that he's not doing what ole' boy from before used to do? You've got to always keep in mind that, even when it comes to sex, no two partners or experiences are exactly alike. If you're not mentally and emotionally processing this fact, it might not be that your partner isn't holdin' it down. It actually may be that you are still caught up in your ex (or a few of your exes).
By the way, that guy that I just mentioned? It's some of the best sex I've ever had. Sometimes the best things don't come in the biggest packages. Words to live by.
Avoid Any Passive Aggressive Behavior Too
When it comes to addressing issues, I'm definitely more aggressive than passive aggressive. That's probably why passive aggressive people get on my last nerve. How can you know if you are a passive aggressive type of person? If you make backhanded compliments ("I mean, you were much better tonight than you usually are."). If you use sarcasm to get a point across ("Oh, I'm the one who needs to be more spontaneous? Yeah, that sounds about right."). If you say nothing after sex but, instead, give your partner the silent treatment and then roll over and go to sleep. Or worse, when your partner asks you if anything is wrong, you shrug and say "nothing" when, clearly, it's something. Another example of being passive aggressive is when you downplay your needs and say something along the lines of, "I know this is probably going to sound petty but…" Hmph, now that I think about it, a cryptic form of being passive aggressive is faking orgasms. You're acting like you're satisfied when you're not. And if you do that often, it's only going to lead to resentment.
From what I've read, a past history of childhood abuse, harsh punishment or neglect, or even low self-esteem can be what causes someone to deal with others in a passive aggressive kind of way. Problem is, it's a really ineffective and counterproductive form of communication because it requires others to have to try and read between the lines or play mind games with you.
Good sex is all about healthy communication. If you want your sex life to get better, being passive aggressive is not what's going to get you there.
Be What You Desire
One time, while sitting in a session with a couple, the husband brought up that although fellatio is important to him—like really, really important to him—he was getting irritated because his wife was pretty bad at it. While he was in the midst of breaking down the particulars—her not acting enthused, teeth getting in the way, rushing, etc.—I noticed that his wife was hemming and hawing and rolling her eyes. When I asked her if she was irritated, embarrassed or both, she blurted out, "Maybe if you went down on me every once in a while, a sistah could get more excited about giving you some head." I mean and I'm sayin'.
I have sat in enough sessions with couples to definitely vouch for the fact that some folks are sexually dissatisfied because, contrary to what their ego may be telling them, they aren't exactly doing what makes their partner climb the walls either. One of the main reasons why is due to their own selfishness—wanting to receive what they are not willing to give.
Do you deserve earth-shattering sex? Most definitely. But you are significantly decreasing your chances of experiencing it if you are wanting your partner to do or be what you are not willing to do—or be.
Don’t Harp on It
One more. There are all kinds of ways to have performance anxiety. One way is in the bedroom, and sometimes this happens when a partner is stressed out or anxious. Something that can get your partner there is nagging. I'm not kidding. I actually read an article on a licensed therapist's site that stated that nagging does more damage to a marriage than infidelity or financial challenges. It also said that the ones who are prone to nag are anxious or obsessive types. Who wants to have sex with a jittery person or control freak?!
Rome wasn't built in a day. For many of us, great sex isn't either.
Besides, this ain't a sex scene from your favorite chick flick; this is the real world. If you're diggin' him, there's chemistry and the relationship is going well in every other room of the house, don't assume that things are totally doomed just because you are currently sexually dissatisfied. Sometimes, a part of the fun of sex is figuring things out together. Be patient. Be open. Be creative. Give things a little (more) time. If he values you, he's going to want to please you. He's definitely not gonna wanna leave you out here all…sexually dissatisfied. NOT. AT. ALL.
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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. ;)
Nazanin Mandi is never out of options.
About a year ago, the 37-year-old life coach and actress was navigating life after divorce and determined to experience homeownership for the first time as a single woman. She’d been married to the R&B singer Miguel for three years, following a long-term relationship that started when she was 18 years old. But, in 2022, she filed for divorce. It was certainly the most public change she made but, in reality, it was just one of many decisions to refocus and reach her full potential in recent years.
“During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been,” she says in an xoNecole exclusive.
Still, as Mandi worked to get to know herself and her needs during this new phase of life, she realized the home she’d purchased wasn’t a good fit. Overwhelmed by the echoing of her voice in the spacious home, she had a breakdown and called her cousin, who immediately suggested she lease the home and live somewhere else. “I woke up in my house, and I was like, ‘This is not it for me,” she says. “All those years, I had been accustomed to living a certain way [and] in a certain house, so I bought myself a house like [my old home]. But my family was not the same. Waking up in that house by myself, it highlighted the divorce. I was like, ‘Oh, no, we can’t do this. This is not it.’ My life has changed, so my choices need to change.” At that moment, Mandi became open to the idea that there wasn’t one set way to achieve ownership on her own.
“I feel so much better. I’m in a smaller place. My best friend lives a minute from me and I can walk to her house,” she tells me during a Zoom interview from her home one recent afternoon in early February. In the past two years, she hasn’t just been advising other people on varying circumstances, she’s also been healing herself.
"During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been."
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If supporters began following Nazanin Mandi because of her conventional beauty or the contagious, bright, white smile she often wears in many of her photos, that’s likely not the reason they’ve stuck around. Instead, she’s amassed a following based on her transparency about her own anxiety and depression, along with the encouraging messages of self-acceptance, gratitude, ambition, and humility that are often sprinkled into her social media posts.
In an era where looking at Instagram photos of models can often lead to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, Nazanin Mandi is determined to be more than eye candy. She’s food for her follower’s souls, too.
Since being recruited to model while dining at an In-N-Out at 10 years old, Mandi has worked in many areas of entertainment. The Valencia, California native has modeled for brands such as Olay, Savage X Fenty, and Good American. As a teen, she sang at Carnegie Hall and auditioned for season 1 of American Idol, making it all the way to Hollywood before producers disqualified her for lying about her age. (Mandi was 15 at the time, and contestants had to be at least 16 years old.) Mandi has acted, too, including appearing on Disney’s That’s So Raven as a teenager and on the BET+ series Games People Play and the Prime series Á La Carte in more recent years.
In recent years, though, she’s also expanded her professional goals outside of entertainment, too. After becoming a certified life coach in 2020, Mandi launched the membership platform You Bloome in 2022 with the hopes of providing wellness services to others, including her self-published gratitude journal. “I wish I had access to something like You Bloome earlier in my own life,” she writes on the company’s website. The actress, who has been forthcoming about her struggles with anxiety and depression, has never had a life coach, but credits therapy as a tool that “really, really saved me and it laid the foundation to who I am becoming.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
"I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself."
While she’s always had a nurturing personality, Mandi says her interest in becoming a life coach was inspired by the women who would message her for advice on social media. “I would answer them back. It really sparked a fire within myself to help people,” she says.
You Bloome currently has three membership tiers, ranging in price from $2.99 to $39.99 per month. The highest tier offers a motivational text message twice a week, two live, group coaching sessions per month, and more. “We get emotional. We cry. We laugh. It’s really beautiful. I’ve built close relationships with my members through this. It’s been inspiring both ways,” Mandi says of the sessions. Still, the founder says she hopes to take on more motivational and keynote speaking opportunities in the future with the hopes of impacting as many people as possible.
And, she’s hoping to do all of this while continuing to explore a career as an entertainer.
At this point in her life, Mandi says she’s gained enough perspective on modeling, music, and acting to realize what she wants to prioritize moving forward. “We are going full force with acting,” she says, noting her goal is “to book a series regular or a film that impacts my career and the world.” She plans to continue to model, too, but has no desire to pursue music.
“I don’t want any part of that because I know what that life entails,” she says. “I don’t want to tour. I don’t want to do any of that. That is not where my heart is at.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If you ask Mandi, she’ll tell you she feels most comfortable in front of a camera, but she’ll also admit that she’s recently experienced a lot of imposter syndrome when thinking about her acting career. “I think it’s a fear of not succeeding,” she says. If anything, she adds, she’s harder on herself now than she’s ever been. “There were distractions before. There’s no distractions now,” she says. “I’m putting pressure on myself for no reason.”
This is where the life coach’s own personal healing comes into play. Mandi says she’s learning recently that “slow progress is still big progress at the end of the day.”
“Currently, I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself,” she adds.
Still, one of Mandi’s strengths is that she doesn’t feel the pressure to limit herself to just one passion. From working as a life coach to pursuing acting, she has given herself grace to explore all other dreams.
“We can be allowed to be many different things in this lifetime,” she says. “As people, our identities are allowed to expand. Don’t put us in a fucking box. I cannot live that way anymore.”
For more of Nazanin, follow her on Instagram @nazaninmandi.
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Featured image by Solmaz Saberi
It's no secret that the dating scene is different from our parents' generation, so as a hopeful romantic, many parts of me feel like I was born in the wrong lifetime. My mother often says that she feels like my husband will be a bit older than me; perhaps that was her way of telling me that she hopes I find someone more mature. But these days, between the countless podcasts debating gender roles and discussions online of who brings what to the table, finding your person can feel hopeless.
Still, people are finding love every day, so how can we go from being amongst the brokenhearted and nonbelievers? How can we get to the meat of what our needs truly are to find the love we've been searching for? Beverley Andre, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says that the key is getting out of your own way.
Q: How can we get in our own way when it comes to relationships?
A: We get in our own way in relationships by having rigid expectations that make it difficult or impossible for someone to meet. I know this is a hot topic regarding having and maintaining standards, but there’s a fine line between reasonable expectations and creating a barrier that is nearly impossible to break through.
You have to assess the standards and see if they are genuinely in protection of you and maintain the standard of how you want to be treated, or are the standards fueled by fear and what you're really trying to do is avoid feeling hurt and disappointed, so you create this cycle where you set impossible standards that no one can meet, therefore limiting the possibility of close intimate relationships, leaving you feeling lonely and frustrated.
Q: In this dating age and era, how can we determine what our needs are versus our wants?
A: Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations, so I recommend creating a list of both. Identify your core values early on because those are your principles and qualities that matter most to you in a relationship. Those values are fundamental to your overall well-being. For example, do you want to be with someone who wants children, has integrity, and aligns on finances? Your values should be your deal-breakers that weed out people who are not in alignment.
For wants, think of physical, personality, and lifestyle traits that aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, aren’t tied to someone’s core traits, and don’t compromise your mental wellness. For instance, enjoying 100% of the same interests, specific physical attributes, and shared cultural background. As an extra measure, I recommend discussing your needs and wants with a trusted inner circle and getting their feedback. An inner circle should give you fair feedback instead of just agreeing with it because they’re within the inner circle.
"Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations."
Q: Are there fundamental needs that everyone should have or has on some level in romantic partnerships?
A: Yes, to be seen and heard. No one wants to be in a romantic partnership where they feel invisible, and their needs are met with consistent resistance just because it’s different from their partner. One of the core issues I see with couples is their inability to make space for their partner’s voice and influence. They find it difficult to see the value in what their partner is saying, especially if it contradicts their thoughts and opinions. Therefore, they register it as not being good enough and lacking merit and then get into a cycle where they inadvertently want their partner to change their minds and prove to them why they have a point.
Q: What are different examples of needs that everyone has?
Q: How can we get to the meat of what our needs are so we can in turn get better at communicating what our needs are from an empowered place versus a disempowered one?
A: Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. I often see people trying to heal these wounds in relationships with people who aren’t responsible for creating them or fixing them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving. Getting to the meat of your needs will require self-exploration, curiosity, and patience to understand why the need is even a need.
"Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving."
Q: What do you find your clients who are succeeding in relationships have done differently in explaining their needs to their partner?
A: They have done the self-work and healing to know their needs through individual and/or couple’s therapy. Most of the clients I’ve worked with never had the space to develop their thoughts around their needs. They’ve adopted their needs based on what they’ve seen in their personal lives from family growing up, movies, and now social media. Until you have a healthy relationship with yourself, where you’ve identified your needs and are meeting them, it isn’t easy to have that with someone else. You can’t communicate and give what you don’t know and have.
Featured image by Maskot/Getty Images