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.
Feature image by Giphy
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
- Common Kinks & Kinky Sex Ideas - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Partner Selfish In Bed? How To Deal - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Negative Body Attitudes and Sexual Dissatisfaction in Men: The ... ›
- How To Tell Your Partner You're Not Happy - Dr. Psych Mom ›
- The Dissatisfaction of Being Sexually Rejected By A Partner Lasts ... ›
- The 5 Types Of Sexually Unsatisfied Men - The Good Men Project ›
- My boyfriend doesn't satisfy me sexually - a therapist's honest answer ›
- Communicating sexual dissatisfaction – SheKnows ›
- What To Do About Your Mediocre Sex Life ›
- When Your Spouse Is No Longer Attractive To You: Sexual ... ›
- When Your Partner Doesn't Meet Your Needs, What Can You Do ... ›
- 5 Signs You're Unhappy With Your Sex Life ›
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. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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 courtesy
In 2024, there’s tons of thought and strategy that can go into dating online. While dating apps offer a convenient space to find potential partners, it’s become more complicated by the day to know just how to land a worthwhile match at all. With paywalls, roses, and Super Likes to push past while using dating apps, a common sentiment among singles is: do these apps really want us to find love at all?
Dating hopefuls are taking time to reevaluate their approach to dating as many discussions surrounding online dating are significantly influencing user behavior, particularly among Black singles. According to Jonathan Kirkland, Head of Brand and Marketing for BLK, these conversations shape the thoughts, expectations, and actions of singles and how they engage with dating platforms.
“The Black conversation shapes up the online dating world big time. We’ve seen how discussions around inclusivity, authenticity, and cultural relevance have driven more users to [dating] platforms, where they feel represented and understood,” Kirkland tells xoNecole. “But hey, it's all about personal vibes. Instead of buying into the hype, we're all about our community creating their own stories and shifting the narrative.”
How Online Dating Discourse Shapes Gen Z and Millennial Dating Preferences and Behaviors
Ilka & Franz/Getty Images
Across different age groups, distinct shifts in dating preferences and behaviors have been observed. Kirkland tells us that Gen Z prioritizes authenticity, social awareness, and online connectivity, while Millennials are focused on sharing values, pursuing their aspirations, and authentically representing their cultural identity.
These changes are not only shifting how singles are approaching the app, they’re influencing the flexibility in what was once seen as “non-negotiables" in long-term desires that are now becoming plausible considerations.
In a recent survey conducted by BLK, 100% of Gen Z and Millennials who participated in the study said they'd be open to starting a family with a friend. “It’s like, life's throwing them curveballs, and they're flipping the script on what family means,” Kirkland explains.
“Gen Z sees this whole platonic co-parenting thing as a game-changer for how we do families, making things more flexible and diverse. Millennials say it's all about building up your chosen family and locking down those intentional connections. Times are definitely changing.”
As culture evolves and social norms shift, these findings show that daters across generations are embodying a sense of adaptability in order to create the life they desire and love they deserve. That’s why we’ve tapped BLK’s Johnathan Kirkland to put us onto the 2024 dating trends that will help you win at love.
On the top trends singles can look forward to in the 2024 online dating space:
“One trend is ‘dawn dating,’ where you squeeze in dates before your workday kicks off. This offers a new level of convenience and efficiency,” he explains.
“And since it's an election year, get ready for 'partisan dating.' That's where singles prefer connecting with someone who's vibing on the same political wavelength. And with so many young voters more into the issues rather than the candidates, expect some real deep convos over policy matters.”
“Plus, we’re going to see more of a focus on looking after your mental health while you're dating. Platforms are rolling out initiatives to help you build solid relationships, while also prioritizing your own wellbeing,” he adds.
On the best icebreakers to hit a conversational flow with new matches:
Kirkland says that while breaking the ice can be difficult, one way to break the ice is to throw out questions that show your genuine interest. “Ask about their passions, where they love to travel, or maybe something cool they've experienced culturally lately.”
“It’s also nice to toss in a fun pop culture question, like, ‘So, are you #TeamMegan or #TeamNicki?’ It's all about getting that convo flowing.” he suggests. "BLK recently rolled out new profile prompts in our app last year to help spark these conversations. They're little conversation starters you can display on your profile, written or even voiced, so people can slide into your DMs without any awkwardness.”
On the best practices for users looking to connect with men who have aligned dating goals and avoid hookup culture:
“Be crystal clear about what you're after. And when you're scoping out potential matches, keep an eye out for those little signs that they're ready for something serious, too. Look for hints in their profiles, like if they're talking about their future goals or if your interests and values seem to click. But it's not all about what's written down. When you start chatting, keep it real and open. Lay it all out on the table early on—no beating around the bush.”
"Be crystal clear about what you're after. And when you're scoping out potential matches, keep an eye out for those little signs that they're ready for something serious too."
He continues, “Whether it's long-term love, a casual vibe, or just making new pals. No more wasting time on matches that aren't on the same page as you.”
On the advice he’d give to users who want to give dating apps another try, but are discouraged to do so:
“Let’s be honest. Dating apps are like any other technology —they're constantly evolving. So that app you checked out last year may have added new features, cool filters, and better ways to connect,” Kirkland says.
“If you're feeling a bit anxious about diving back into the dating app world, remember this: every swipe, chat, and date is a chance to learn something new about yourself. It's all about growth and discovery. Keep an open mind, but don't forget to set some boundaries and stay true to yourself. And if it all gets a bit overwhelming, take a breather.”
He adds, “Focus on some self-care, hit up your friends for a pep talk, or even chat with a pro if you need to. Because hey, who knows? The perfect match might just be a swipe away — so keep swiping.”
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.
Featured image by blackCAT/Getty Images