Like at least half of the free world, I've always had a bit of a thing for Idris Elba. Only, my reason is probably a little different. In many ways, he really does remind me of my first love (I'd post a pic but my exes endure me using them as content enough without my giving up visuals too). It took me FOR-E-VER to really get past the man I fell for back when I was a freshman in college. But, back in 2015, when I went on my customized get-your-heart-pieces-back tour, he and I made peace. We expressed that we would always love each other; we just…will never work, in that way—again.
Here's the thing, though. When there is peace between two people, you truly want what's best for him. My ex? I want him to find his, what I call, "now one". And, although a sistah has had her fair share of fantasies about Sir Elba, I am thrilled that he has as well.
I have a pretty good memory and I remember when Idris insisted that he was never getting married ever again. Remarkably, it wasn't all that long ago (two summers ago, to be exact). Yet here he is, a married man, with him and his beloved Sabrina Dhowre gracing the July issue of British Vogue's bridal edition, showing everyone that Black love is still alive and doing very well (thank you very much).
When I watched some video footage of them at the last Met Gala (on People's site), it was dope how, although he is the celebrity, she is clearly his star. I liked that they both spoke freely and equally in interviews and also how comfortable they were in one another's space. Their energy conveyed that they were in love yes, yet they really are in like too. Dope.
I think something that Idris said in his British Vogue interview about his relationship with his wife is probably why everything seems so…healthy:
"Sabrina has deepened friendships with people I've known longer than [her], nurturing the best side of me to make me connect to my friends more."
Nurture. Sabrina nurtures him. I personally find that word to be a relationship superpower and something everyone should look for in their own "now one". If you give me a sec, I'll break down why I say that.
To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Fed”
A few weeks ago, I was schooling one of my 29-year-old friends on A Different World. That show will forever be in my top five of favorites. There's one episode that features Whitley realizing that her boyfriend Julian was not going to support her in her desire to become an art buyer. When she vented all of that to Dwayne, he said (among other things), "You need someone who is going to feed you, Whitley."
Five-star dinners would be nice, but I'm pretty sure that Dwayne was coming from the "supply with nourishment" (which is basically what nurture means). One of the best synonyms for nourish is "cultivate". To be cultivated is to receive the special kind of attention that helps you to thrive, both personally as well as professionally.
The late-yet-still-great Dr. Myles Munroe used to talk about the power of a man cultivating a woman. He defines cultivate as "to bring out the best in everything around you". There's absolutely no way you can't thrive if your partner is committed to the cultivating process. Cultivate is such a beautiful word.
To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Supported and Encouraged”
I have a married male friend who is very accomplished. Something that he used to say often was, "It's very hard to go home to a woman who complains all of the time. I'd rather stay out in the world where I am respected and celebrated." What's interesting about that statement is, I was just talking to another married male friend who is currently going through a divorce. Something he said he told his soon-to-be ex is, "You are supposed to be my source of strength, not the very thing that weakens me."
Whenever I hear stuff like this, I visualize a game with cheerleaders on the sideline. The gender of the players and cheerleaders are completely interchangeable. The point is that we all need folks who are going to cheer for us, honor us, have our backs, get us through the tough times—make us feel like if no one else can be relied upon for encouragement and support, they can be. Consistently so too.
Many relationships have crashed and burned because one or both individuals refused to endure the challenging times (which is what support means) and/or inspire their partner to soar to new heights (which is what encouragement does). Don't sleep on how much your partner needs both of these things. It's critical to your relationship's health and longevity.
To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Strengthened”
A clear indication that you're in the kind of relationship you should get out of (or at least get counseling for) is if your connection with someone is making you weaker instead of stronger. When a relationship is truly strengthening you, it will, by the mere definition of strong, help to make you "mentally powerful or vigorous" and "especially able, competent, or powerful". It will even be a source "of great moral power, firmness, or courage".
If what you're currently in has you on a non-stop emotional roller coaster ride, it causes you to question your worth or value or (catch this one) it puts your own morals and value system into influx just so you can make it "work", your relationship is doing the very opposite of what it should be doing—both to and for you.
To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Cherished”
If you've been to more than three weddings before, you've probably heard the word "cherish" come up in the marriage vows. It's also in the Bible; in the New King James Version, only twice. It's in reference to Christ (peep it) nourishing and cherishing his church (Ephesians 5:29) and a nursing mother cherishing her children (I Thessalonians 2:7).
Cherish is clearly a very special and sacred word. It means that, not only are you being cared for, but you're receiving the TLC kind of treatment. It means that the object of your affection has a deep love for you. It means that they see and treat you like a real treasure. It also means that they embrace you and are attached to you (in the non-stalker or codependent type of way, of course).
This brings me back to something else that Idris said about his relationship that I really liked. He said that he and Sabrina have been "literally inseparable since we met." Nothing about them appears to be that way because they need to be; I'm pretty sure it's like that because they want to be.
Does your partner cherish you? Do you cherish your partner?
To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Supplied with What Is Necessary for Life, Health and Growth”
Wholeness. Something that I strive to be and encourage the singles that I talk to be as well is whole before ever getting with someone else.
I'd much rather choose someone who helps my already-full-cup to overflow than someone who will fill deep bottomless voids.
So yeah, when Idris said, "You know, I'm 47 this year, been married and lived a full life before I even met Sabrina. It wasn't something that I wanted to do, get married again. But …", as someone who's never been married before and will be turning 45 in a couple of weeks, I felt that all up in my soul and spirit.
Idris has lived a full life. FULL LIFE. He loved being single. Now he loves being married. Sabrina is not "giving him a life" so much as she's going to be a source of what takes him to another level in it. Y'all this—all of this—is what nurturing does. So yes, Sir Idris Elba. I don't know if when you said that Sabrina nurtured you that you realized that you preached the sermon for the week, but I'll pass the offering plate around for you one time because you certainly blessed me.
Until I can define my relationship with a man as being "nurturing", I'll keep living a full life as a single woman. Thanks for leading by example on that tip. I appreciate you and yours.
Featured image by Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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Featured image by Giphy