Let's tackle a double standard today, shall we? Even as a woman, something that I find to be a real trip is how, when men do something that we don't like, oftentimes it's wrong—point blank and period. Oh, but let us do the exact same thing and here we come with the justifications for why it should get a pass. A good example of this comes from the article, "Women Cheat More Than We Think. What To Do If That's You." that I penned for the site a couple of years back. If there weren't jokes that were made in the comment sections of our socials, women were writing me to explain why them being unfaithful wasn't "as bad". What. In. The. World?
When two people vow to be husband and wife, a part of what comes with that is fidelity. And no, it's not—pardon the pun—better or worse if a husband or wife does it. It sucks either way. With that being said, because marriage can also be mad challenging at times, sometimes things are understandable, even if they aren't justifiable. What I mean by that is, it can be easier to slip into an affair than a lot of us who've never had one may think. And until you fall into that kind of space, it can also be easy to say that you never would when actually, statistics say that, based on the age demographic, sometimes it's actually the women who cheat more than the men do (the more you know, chile).
Since cheating is rather rampant (around half of all married people will cheat at some point in their relationship), it's kind of a trip how taboo the topic is when it comes to actually discussing it head on. Yet because I have sat in so many sessions where the wife either cheating or wanting to cheat is the issue, I thought it would be important to share what you should do if you find yourself in this head/heart/libido space and you're not exactly sure what to do about it. If that is indeed you, let's begin here.
1.First, What’s Going on With Your Marriage That's Making You Want To Cheat?
It might sound cliché, yet I promise you that there is a lot of truth to the saying, if someone cheats in their relationship, it speaks more to what is transpiring (or not transpiring) within their marriage than it ever does about the other individual. Case in point. I have a friend who recently survived an emotional affair with an ex. It almost got to the point where sex went down but some messiness in the ex's life (cough, cough…another woman) nipped it in the bud. The thing is, this friend was going through a really difficult time in her marriage at the time and, you know what they say about that damn 80/20 rule—when you're not getting the 20 percent that you want at any given time, it can feel like the other 80 is close to being pretty irrelevant.
My friend, the wife, was in need of a man who listened to her and made her feel appreciated. Her husband was doing anything but that which left a gaping hole for her ex to walk back into. When she finally cut off all communication with her ex and she and her husband got into counseling, she recalled why her ex was her ex to begin with. I'm telling you, affairs are a trip because they're a lot like mirages in the sense that, more times than not, the other person really isn't all that—you're just so depleted in your own relationship that you want them to be.
That's why, if an affair is something that you're currently in or even contemplating, first ask yourself why your marriage isn't currently fulfilling you. I don't mean in the vague sense either. Get specific. The clearer you are in what your marriage is lacking right now, the better you'll be able to figure out how to fill those voids—without being unfaithful.
2.Who Is the Person You Want To Cheat on Your Spouse With?
Boundaries. If there is one thing that all marriages need, it's boundaries. This brings me to my next point. Whoever the guy is that you're considering cheating with, where did he come from because that answer will make it easier for you to figure out how to set some limits. Is it an ex? Is it someone at work? Is it a guy who is—well, was—just a friend? Maybe it's someone you met online or someone who is connected to a friend of yours.
While some folks are strategically selfish in their relationships—meaning they intend to cheat and so they do—oftentimes affairs are far more gradual than that. We find exes (or they find us) on social media. We get way too comfortable with referring to a co-worker as a "work husband" (you've got ONE husband, by the way). We tell our male friends more about how we're feeling than our own spouse. We sneak online or use a friend as an alibi to hang out with one of their buddies.
One of the reasons why I'm big on advising single people to totally get their heart pieces back prior to marriage (check out "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour") is because, if you don't get some sense of closure and fully heal from your past situations, oftentimes they will be dormant instead of dead—and dormant has a way of resurfacing when we least expect it.
Yet even beyond exes, temptations don't end just because you've got a husband. Whoever the guy is, be honest with yourself about how you've relaxed your boundaries in the first place to even get where you are with and about him. Then use the self-control that is required to put those limits back in place. If you need a close friend (one who can be completely trusted) or a reputable therapist/counselor/coach to help to hold you accountable, get one. You're already vulnerable. Don't disillusion yourself into thinking that boundaries will suddenly just…appear. You've got to build those jokers. And sometimes it takes some real blood, sweat, and tears to do so.
3.How Do You Know When You’ve Crossed the Line? How Do You Know It’s Cheating?
Back when I was touring with a ministry that dealt with porn and sex addiction, I was constantly encountering women who said they were virgins yet they would engage in oral and/or anal sex. Since a lot of them grew up in the church, they felt like so long as they weren't vaginally penetrated with a penis, it was all good. First up, yeah…I'm not so sure about that. When the Bible speaks of virginity, it's referring to sexual purity (which is why some translations use words like "chaste") not just "not technically doing it". And second, short of pregnancy, oral and anal sex can put you just as much at risk as vaginal sex can.
Do you see where I am going with this on the cheating tip? Some married people are in relationships that are totally inappropriate. However, because there may not be any actual sex going down, they figure it's all good. No cigar, sis. There are emotional affairs. There are online affairs. There's crushing on someone else so hard that you either try and manipulate your partner into becoming more like that person or you fantasize about that individual (including during sex with your mate). Then there are physical levels of interaction. And these are just some examples of how you can cheat without traditionally copulating.
How do you know when you've crossed the line? Do it like this—if your husband was doing the same thing(s) that you are, how would you feel? Don't say "fine" just so that you can excuse your own actions. Be real about it. If that lunch date, conversation or physical embrace would make you feel some type of way, then you have gone too far. On some level, you are cheating because you aren't being faithful to the understanding that you and your partner have about what is cool and what…isn't. You are expecting from your spouse what you are not willing to do. And yeah, that's being unfaithful—to him and yourself—AF.
4.Write a List of Pros and Cons for Your Spouse and the "Contender"
Oh, I'm good for a pros and cons list because sometimes we need to see things in black and white in order to make wise choices. Another wife that I know (who's divorced now) was in an affair with a guy for about three years before she tried to end it (she didn't clean break it, so her marriage ultimately didn't survive). Her husband was built like a walrus. The man she was cheating with worked out daily. Her husband was always on the road. The man she was cheating with gave her constant attention. Her husband had a low libido. The guy she was cheating with was always good to go.
Yeah, let me address that last point first. If you're single, you want to get married and you're reading this, please keep in mind that while married sex can—and should—be totally wonderful and extremely fulfilling, one of the reasons why a lot of people are thrown off by it during the first couple of years is because "single-sex" can be extremely selfish. It's all about you and your needs when marriage is about substituting "me" for we. So, of course, sex with your husband is going to have seasons of being less exciting than some new guy who is encouraging you to act like you're single all over again. Of course, the sex is going to seem unbelievable—at least for a while.
At the same time, when it comes to whatever is going down physically and otherwise, it's important to really assess both men and the connections as unbiased as possible. Is your husband a good provider—monetarily and in other ways? Does he love you? If you've got kids, is he a good father? What are the things you've been through together and he's always been there? Why did you choose your husband in the first place? Then, when it comes to ole' boy, other than what is happening on a carnal tip, what is he bringing into your world that is long-lasting and reliable (because again, he's down to help you gamble at blowing your entire world up, so how much can you trust him)?
If the pros with your husband outshine the cons, you know what you need to do. If the pros are somehow larger with the one you're cheating with—tell me…why are you cheating? Why aren't you taking steps to end your marriage in order to be with him? Trust me, the answer to that question will reveal a lot about what's actually going on…too.
5.Have You Thought Past the Present?
Wanna know a clear indication that you are moving in these streets in a mature way? You don't just make decisions based on how you feel or what you want in the present. No, what you actually do is factor in how what you say and do today could impact your life—in 30 minutes, in a week from today, and 10 years from now.
There is another woman I know who cheated on her first husband, shoot, decades ago. The child that she created with that man never knew it and the person she cheated with ended up molesting her child after she married him. When that child found out, as an adult, they wanted nothing to do with their mom because they are now traumatized by the fact that her selfishness put them in harm's way—and she lied about it. Again, this all happened decades ago and yet the woman is dealing with consequences right in the here and now.
It seems like not a day goes by in the news cycle when we don't read about something someone did years ago that they are currently paying for. Listen, that man you're cheating with (or thinking about cheating with)? It might seem like bliss now; still, it's a huge gamble that it won't catch up to you, in some way, in the future. Very few things in this life don't plant seeds that sprout when we least expect it. Be careful that you factor all of this in with every decision you make. The outcome of an intoxicating affair can sober you up. Real fast.
6.Understand That Cheating Is ALWAYS a Shaky Foundation
I'm not gonna lie to you. I know several marriages that have survived affairs—affairs from both sides—and I even know a couple who married who cheated on their first spouse with each other and have been together like 30 years at this point. Yet one thing that all of these people will tell you is cheating is a shaky foundation to try and build anything on. Aside from the popular sayings like "if they cheat with you, they'll cheat on you" (which isn't automatically the case) or "once a cheater, always a cheater" (also not true; if you don't want to be thought of that way, don't put that stigma on others), the fact that you stepped outside of your relationship to begin with meant that either you or your marriage was broken—if not both. And to me, that's like trying to build a house on a foundation that is already cracked. Let the right storm come and the house isn't going to stand like you thought it would.
An affair? It definitely comes from a state of brokenness, no matter how much you may try to deny it or even romanticize it. It really is best to not "escape" into what keeps you from dealing with the real issues and instead figure out what is happening in your marriage and how to repair it. Besides, a guy who is down to help you dishonor your union is a guy who is broken his damn self on some level. Broken things cut, one way or another. And sometimes the healing process is complex, messy, and long. Choose wisely, sis. Not emotionally. Not hormonally. Not temporarily. Wisely.
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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. ;)
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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