At this point, I don't think I personally know of anyone who doesn't have a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages book. But what I do find interesting is, when it comes to learning how to apply words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and/or gifts to our relationships, sometimes mastering that can be a bit of a struggle. You first have to figure out what your top love language is, then you have to discover what your loved ones' are (you and they can take a test here). But what I can vouch for is, once you do, it can make connecting with the ones you care about, so much easier.
Keeping this in mind, have you ever wondered how to apply you and your partner's love language to your sex life? Because, think about it—if you both feel the most loved in a certain kind of way, if you brought that knowledge into your bedroom, wouldn't that only make sexual satisfaction that much better? I thought the same thing. That's why I decided to devote a few keystrokes into how you and yours can take your sexual pleasure up a notch, simply by becoming more fluent in each other's primary (two) love languages, every time you're intimate with each other.
Words of Affirmation
Whenever I'm in a counseling session with a couple and one of them either says that they hate dirty talk or they prefer to have sex in silence, there aren't enough GIFs out in cyberspace to express the facial expressions that I'm unable to hide. Wow. There are folks who don't verbally communicate while doing-the-do? How is that even possible? Then I have to pause and remind myself that a part of the reason why I am so shocked is because my primary love language is words of affirmation. In many ways, it explains my writing career. It explains how my friends can oftentimes get off "cheap" by only needing to send me a sentimental email or a Hallmark card on special occasions. And, it also explains why dirty talk is one of my absolute favorite things about sex. Full stop. Hands down.
Someone who prefers for love to be expressed with words is probably going to feel similar to how I am when it comes to their own sex lives. However, it should also go on record that, in order for sex to be a peak satisfaction experience, it's a good idea for the words of affirmation person to be "warmed up" with things that their partner loves about them, their body and even the sex itself. And that's something that shouldn't happen, less than 10 minutes before penetration.
Seducing a words of affirmation individual with texts, out-of-nowhere calls, and even a handwritten love letter can be just the kind of foreplay that can take your next sexual experience with them to an entirely different level!
One of my closest friends is a quality time individual. Come to think of it, the last two men that I was in a relationship with were as well. It's interesting, the kind of things that can trigger this type of individual. My not making eye contact or looking at my phone while we're talking. Them being bigger on creating memories on their birthday rather than receiving an actual present. Yeah, it took me a while to figure out how to make them feel especially loved and appreciated. What I learned was, more than anything else, they simply wanted me to be fully present in the moment. With them.
Can you see how this translates into the bedroom?
When it comes to sex, quality time people are the ones who probably enjoy easing into sex the most. They like to wake up in the morning, just to look at the sunrise before engaging in morning sex. They need pillow talk before gettin' some late at night. And, if anyone is a fan of afterplay (which basically boils down to post-coital affection), quality time people would probably be the ones who are the biggest ones of all.
Ah. Physical touch. It is so much my second favorite love language that, sometimes, I'm not sure if it actually ranks over words of affirmation. Anyway, just so we're clear, when it comes to having this particular love language outside of the bedroom, it doesn't mean that we want low-key acts of foreplay ALL of the time. Physical touch folks are the ones who like to cuddle while watching a movie, hold hands while walking in the mall and spooning as we fall asleep. We feel and give love by physical contact, but that doesn't mean that it always or automatically is sexual.
OK, but when it comes down to gettin' it in, that's another matter entirely.
Physical touch folks are all about tapping into various erogenous zones. Physical touch folks like to explore different types of touch sensations whether it's with a feather, some ice or a tongue. Physical touch people also enjoy a good massage and can remain in the state of foreplay for much longer than a lot of other love language people are typically able to.
When it comes to this love language, it's all about doing whatever makes touching as erotic and stimulating as possible. For both individuals. Each and every time sex transpires.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is fascinating. Because it probably ranks fifth of my personal love languages needs, it took really studying some people in my world who have it to understand what they truly long for. At the end of the day, what a lot of them have expressed to me is they feel (most) loved by their partner (and those around them) when he or she is doing something to lighten the load of their lives. Washing dishes when they see some in the sink. Picking up clothes when they are driving past the cleaners. Making a grocery run when they notice that something is missing in the fridge or pantry.
So, how does this translate over into sex? The same mentality applies.
One of the things that is a hindrance when it comes to sexual pleasure and fulfillment is stress. So, if you want to truly please your acts of service partner, find ways to alleviate it.
Clean up the bedroom. Run them a soothing bath. Give them a massage. Put the kids down earlier. Cook them a meal with nothing but aphrodisiacs on the menu. Do something that will help them to get their minds off of any and everything that has nothing to do with the two of you, enjoying each other, right at the moment that you want to do so.
Personally, I hate that the "gifts people" oftentimes get a bad rap from those who don't have this as their top love language. While some people might think that being a gifts love languages person means that the song "Gold Digger" needs to be queued up at all times, all that a gifts person really needs is for love to be expressed to them in a more tangible sort of way.
On the sexual tip, it could be a new piece of lingerie, a never-heard-of-before sex toy, some flavored lubricant, a different shade of bedding, even flower petals for the bed (or the bath). Anyone who has a partner who prefers love to be expressed through gifts is simply someone who needs to get creative when it comes to showing their partner how into them they are and how exciting it is to have sex with them.
Actually, this can be pretty dope—especially for women—because the art of seduction here requires a little bit of pre-planning. And when someone is proactive about expressing their love (and lust) for their partner, it can be the ultimate aphrodisiac! So…when are you going shopping, sis?
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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 (email@example.com) 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.
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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 Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images