Here's something that could quite possibly be your "something new" for the day. Were you aware that approximately 28 million people in the United States alone are currently in a long-distance relationship? Then, when you factor in the 2020 bomb of the year that is COVID-19 into that lil' statistic—unless you were already married or living with your partner before it happened, if you're currently seeing someone, there's a pretty good chance that you are in a long-distance situation, even if it's merely by circumstantial default. Between the call to social distance, possibly feeling leery about traveling, possibly not having enough coins to go anywhere (even if you wanted to) or maybe even only being a quick road trip away and yet still not feeling like now is the time to cuddle up—you might be tempted to think that this will be the worst Christmas…ever.
I'm not gonna lie to you. There really is no substitute for being boo'ed up underneath somebody's mistletoe on Christmas morning. Yet that doesn't mean that you still can't make your long-distance relationship extra sweet, sexy and memorable this year. You just need to put a plan together. I'm hoping that the following 10 tips can totally help you out.
1. Send Each Other a Care Package (on the Same Day)
I don't care how old someone is, if there's one thing virtually everyone likes to receive in the mail, it's a care package. So, let's start with that. If for, whatever the reason this year, you and yours cannot be together, make the mutual decision that you both will send each other a customized care package that will be mailed off on the same day (so that hopefully, you'll both receive it at the same time); then make the commitment to not open either one until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. While I think that surprising each other will make this tip extra fun, if you're looking for some ideas of what should go in said packages, I've got a few.
- Homemade cookies
- New PJs
- A handwritten letter
- Soy-scented candles
- Favorite smell-good (yours or his)
- For him, beard care products (like the Black-owned company Fetti Says)
- Personalized jewelry
- A mug with a sweet message or inside joke on it
- Sexy undies
- New sheets (more on that in a sec)
- Some "Wow, I didn't see that coming" photo prints
2. Spray One’s Bedding with the Other’s “Signature Scent”
Speaking of perfumes and colognes, something that can make waking up and going to sleep a little bit easier right through here is to sprinkle some of your partner's favorite scent all over your bedding. If that's something you both are totally down to do, discuss what the scent is and then send each other an online gift card (or CashApp each other a few bucks), so that you can run into the closest department store and cop some. You'll love spending a few extra minutes in bed, each and every night, after you do. (Byrdie has a list of Black-owned fragrance brands here.)
3. Stuff Each Other’s Stocking…Differently
Another thing that can go inside your care package is a stocking with your partner's or pet's name on it. Companies like Personalization Mall or Etsy both offer ones that will be more than happy to make this happen for you. Then, once yours is ready to "stuff", put a sex toy in it; one that the two of you can enjoy together, the next time the two of you are together. As far as what's considered to be a great sex toy for you and your partner, earlier this year, Self published a piece entitled, "The Best Sex Toys for Couples, According to Sex Educators".
And what if he wishes that the two of you were together to test the toy out on December 25? Well, who doesn't know that men are stimulated visually? That said, perform a little fellatio tease for him with it. Or, make the request that he pick up something for you like the We-Melt Clitoral Stimulator ahead of time. What's so special about it? It comes with an app that your partner can use to control how the toy works; yes, even all the way from his house. (Girrrl…) Pretty sure it goes without saying that you'll need to Facetime or use an app like Google Hangout (if you're an Android kind of gal) so that he can take in the full visual effect.
4. Enjoy Breakfast in Bed (on Zoom)
I recently read an article about how the company of the year is Zoom. C'mon, is anyone even a little bit surprised by this? I mean, who wasn't on it this year, for some reason, at some point (my godchild and I would watch movies together that way). Anyway, something that you can do to make it work for you this coming Christmas Day is for you and your boo to enjoy breakfast in bed together on it. Again, you can talk on Facetime (or Google Hangout) while listening to Christmas music. Then, you can bring your laptop into each other's bedrooms and enjoy what you prepared together on a bigger screen with the help of the Zoom app. One way to feel extra close to one another is to discuss what your favorite Christmas breakfast was as a kid, so that each of you can prepare that "in honor" of the other (like, if his were chocolate chip pancakes, you eat that and if yours was French toast, he eats that). Or, you can go really bold with the calories and eat both at the same time. #whyTFnot
5. Have Each Other’s Favorite Meal Delivered
I don't know anyone who wants to spend their entire Christmas Day in the kitchen. So, beyond breakfast, do your best to stay outta there. When it comes to lunch and/or dinner, have each other's favorite meals (from each other's favorite restaurant) delivered instead. As far as what's open on December 25, Delish published a piece entitled, "26 Fast Food Chains And Restaurants Open On Christmas This Year". Or, if you'd prefer something that is a little more upscale, go to your favorite search engine and put "restaurants that will be open on Christmas near me" followed by "2020" to see what's up on the local tip. By the way, please make sure to give at least a 25 percent tip to your delivery person (because folks have to work on Christmas in order for you to pull this off). Oh, and if you're leery about getting takeout (you know, due to the pandemic 'n all), check out "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)" for some helpful hacks. They can help to put your mind at ease.
6. Watch a Christmas Movie Together with an App
Even though I personally don't observe holidays (and no, I am not a Jehovah's Witness), something that I do find to be…precious about this time of year is the syrupy sweet holiday films that incessantly come on the tube (for instance,Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding starring Kelly Rowland was cute and I don't know anyone who hasn't come to adoreJingle Jangle on Netflix).
If you and yours enjoy watching movies together, don't let a little distance keep that from happening. Apps like Together Tube make it easy for the two of you to rent a movie on YouTube (or listen to a playlist) together while sharing a screen. You can share a screen on Zoom as well. And, if you want to take a walk down memory lane, as far as classic Black Christmas movies go, you can get a few suggestions here, here and here.
7. Give Each Other a Friendship Bracelet. Or a Promise Ring.
If your relationship is new or it hasn't reached the "something super sparkly" portion of the program yet, that doesn't mean the two of you can't give each other a token of your affection that you can wear all of the time. At the beginning stages, friendship bracelets are adorably thoughtful presents. If the commitment is more serious than that, you and he can start rocking promise rings (if you're both on the same page, that is). Most jewelry stores carry his and her promise rings. Etsy has an affordable collection of them as well.
8. Plan a Vacation Together
Sure, you're physically apart right now, but sis, it won't be that way forever. At some point during the day, while that romantic Christmas music is playing the background, talk about planning a getaway in the upcoming year. As I was recently reading up on what the hot travel trends would be in 2021, some of them included renting upgraded cabins and taking road trips.
As you wait to do one of those things, you know what else is pretty cool? Going on a virtual trip together. Whether it's The Great Wall of China, The Great Pyramid of Giza, or someplace else, there are all kinds of online tours that you can view. And the real awesome thing about this is a ton of them are absolutely free. You can check out 60 of 'em right here.
9. Sext. Safely.
A perfect way to end your Christmas Day with your partner is to engage in some sexting—and erotic videoing. Whether it's talking about all of the things that the two of you would do to each other if you were in the same room or enticing one another with a "Santa Baby" strip tease, if you want to go all in, but you're nervous about what could possibly happen on Al Gore's internet, no worries; there are apps that can totally put your mind at ease. Dust is an app where you can post whatever, knowing that it will disappear in 24 hours. Wickr is an encrypted app that takes privacy to a whole 'nother level. Confide professes to be a totally "screenshot-free" app. So why not, "take it there"—in the spirit of being super sexy this Christmas?
10. Create a Love & Sex Bucket List for the New Year
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Even though 2020 absolutely did not go as most of us wanted it to, one of the best ways to let your partner know that your relationship is still a top priority is to be intentional about setting goals for the new year. While no one wants to feel like they are doing any mental heavy lifting on Christmas, taking out a little time to plan some dates, discuss each other's love languages (including sex love languages) and put a sex bucket list together can definitely keep the spark going until the two of you can be together again.
This holiday season has been "different" for us all. But don't let COVID-19's crazy ass keep you from celebrating your relationship this Christmas. Be creative. Be sexy. Have fun. It's easier to do than you think. Even from a distance.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports