As we enter a new year, you and your partner are coming off of enjoying a few days off and you’re (hopefully) discussing some of the ways that you want to improve your relationship in the upcoming months, I hope that one of the topics that come up is your sex life. Because while a lot of people seem to treat sex like it’s the icing on the cake of their dynamic, I prefer to see it as an ingredient in the cake. It really can’t be said enough that one of the main things that (usually) set a long-term relationship apart from all of the other connections that people have is the sex — and since that makes sex exceptional, it should be treated as such…wouldn’t you say?
So, keeping this in mind, what kind of sex do you want to have this year? If what immediately comes to your mind is, “What do you mean? I want to have good sex” (duh), then I think you should read this all the way through. Because in order to have good, better or (again hopefully) off-the-charts sex, there are a few different points that should be explored — first.
What Grade Would You Give Your Sex Life Last Year?
Something that I say (and wholeheartedly believe) often is, “The problem with a lot of us is, we’re so used to experiencing an ‘F’ that we think a ‘C’ is an ‘A.’” While I typically apply this to relationships, sex can fit right in with it too. While when we first start having sex with someone new, the focus may be on how good or not-so-good it is, it’s pretty common that once you get into something serious, you don’t put as much thought into how great or not-so-great it might be or what could be done to make things better. You kind of just accept that this is who you’re with and this is the way sex is gonna be.
Listen, if you’re in a long-term dynamic, I’m assuming that you’re trying to be in it for the long haul, right? And if both of you signed up for exclusivity, that means you’re only going to be sleeping with each other. Therefore, you’d better care about if the sex is amazing — or not. That’s why I think it’s crucial that you both put your ego aside and put a grade on your sex life. Based on whatever the “score” is, both of you should explain it. Better to have a couple of minutes of uncomfortableness in hearing what’s up than to sign up for another year of C or below experiences (overall). Right?
Is Sex a Real Priority for You Both?
A wise person once said something that is oh so very true, across the board — “No one is busy. It just depends what number you are on their priority list.” This is why, when married couples talk to me about how they can’t recall the last time they had sex because of how “busy” they’ve been, while I try to keep from letting them see it, I do end up rolling my eyes. Sex is about intimacy. Sex is a profound form of communication. Orgasms have a ton of holistic benefits (check out “10 Irrefutable Reasons To Have An Orgasm A Day” and “10 Hacks To Help You Climax More Consistently”). So, why is it that you can find time to do any and everything else but participate in some consistent copulation? Again, it’s all about priorities.
And what’s the indication that you prioritize sex? Word on the street is, if you have sex about once a week, you’ve got a pretty “normal” sex life. My take is, if you get that sex is a staple in any romantic relationship and you keep pushing lower on your to-do list, that is revealing more about your connection — or disconnection — with your partner than you might think. Going into the new year, prioritizing sex must be a topic of conversation. Don’t put it off. Do it as soon as you possibly can.
Are You and Your Partner Great “Sex Communicators”?
Speaking of conversations, good sex is all about great communication and communication is about imparting something and interchanging something. You know, there’s a husband I know who brags about how good of a communicator he is. His wife and I find that to be past hilarious because he honestly doesn’t seem to know the difference between a monologue (hearing himself talk) and a dialogue (exchanging ideas with others) and he absolutely sucks at listening. Interestingly enough, this very husband was the inspiration behind the article, “BDE: Please Let The ‘It Needs To Be Huge’ Myth Go” that I wrote last year because, another fascinating about him is, he seems to think that because he’s “packin,’” he’s automatically good in bed. Chile, LOUD and WRONG again.
It really should come as no surprise that a lot of people who are poor communicators outside of the bedroom are also pretty bad at doing it inside of the bedroom too. And just what are some indications of being a poor communicator? Making assumptions. Thinking that your voice is what’s more important. Refusing to compromise. Acting like your opinions should be treated like facts. Being patronizing or condescending. Not respecting what the other person is saying. See how that can make someone be bad in bed?
A man can be entirely in you (yes literally), with your permission, and you can still feel like the two of you are miles apart. Since I believe that sex is an ultimate form of communication and the closer that two people feel on a mental and emotional level, the better their relationship can/should become, definitely discuss how good the two of you are about communicating on a sexual level as far as speaking and being heard about what your wants and needs are. If you need a little help in this department, check out “9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.”. At the very least, it can help to put the two of you on the right track.
Do You Want More Passion or Intimacy?
Here’s the thing about passion — a lot of those crazy women on Lifetime television and that show For My Man are “passionate.” I’ve got a male friend right now who has a possessive AF girlfriend who constantly fights with him and then they have make-up sex that is passionate (check out “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good”). So, please don’t assume that if you’re climbing the walls during sex while thinking that you are about to lose your mind the rest of the time, that you’re in something that is good, healthy, or wise. One way or another, passion alone has destroyed many lives.
With those disclaimers out of the way, do I think that there is a good side to passion? Definitely. When powerful and strong emotions are tied into love (or at least deeply caring for someone) and that is expressed sexually, it can be a pretty beautiful thing. So, let’s start there. When’s the last time that you and your partner talked about how you feel about each other? Listen, just because you’re together, that doesn’t always or automatically mean that you feel the same way you did last year or that some things haven’t shifted so…discuss it. If you feel like some passion — that “I can’t wait to tear your clothes off because I’ve just gotta have you right here and now” sex — is missing, 7 times outta 10, that tends to be more about what’s going on in your head than the rest of your body parts.
And what about intimacy? One definition of that word is “a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.”; another is “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” A part of the reason why new couples need to date is to get to know each other. A part of the reason why long-term couples should is to get to know each other more and better. Only arrogant individuals presume that they know all that there is to know about everything and everyone.
That said, if intimacy during sex is what you desire to have more of in the upcoming year, you need to get more “detailed knowledge,” a “deeper understanding” and to become “(even) more affectionate” with your partner. Quality time is a huge part of what can make that happen, so definitely put more dates on your to-do list for the upcoming months (check out “10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home),” “15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language” and “When's The Last Time You And Your Man Had A 'Sex Date'?”).
How “Risky” Are Things?
I will forever die on the hill that one of the most underrated reasons for why two people decide to call it quits is boredom. And when it comes to sexual boredom, it’s important that couples take more risks. Keeping this in mind, when’s the last time you and your partner checked something off of each other’s sex-themed bucket list, taped a sexual encounter, or went on a sexcation? When’s the last time you had sex outside of your bedroom or bathroom, tried a position that you’ve never done, or attempted a sexual goal that you’ve yet to reach (like maybe how many orgasms you can both have in one night)? A wise person once said that there can’t be rewards without risk. Your sex life can apply to this statement — ten-fold.
How Much Is Sex the “Glue” in the Relationship?
Glue is what holds things together and even the Good Book says that sex makes two people one (which is why people need to be very careful about who they “one themselves to” — Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20 — Message). Not only that but oxytocin is a natural hormone that literally makes two people feel closer to one another during physical acts of intimacy and affection. With that said, while I do think that it’s unhealthy to solely rely on sex to keep your relationship afloat, at the same time, I do think that it should be respected as a vital part of what keeps you and yours in a good space.
So, tell me something — how much is sex the “glue” in your relationship? How much do you look forward to it with your partner? How safe and secure within your bond does it make you feel? When it comes to the things that you enjoy the most about your connection, where does sex go on the list? You know, glue is a type of adhesive, one definition of adhesive is tenacious and to be tenacious is to “hold fast,” be “highly retentive” and “not easily pulled asunder.”
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that has gotten way too flippant and casual about sex. Still, if you look at it past the surface, it can help you and your partner remain unbreakably close. It can be a type of glue that makes your bond unmatched. If you let it.
What Is Your Sex Mission Statement?
A philanthropist by the name of Andrew Carnegie once said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” That said, from both a personal and professional perspective, I am all about mission statements because they’re a great way to set goals, remove distractions (and excuses) and stay focused. So…where’s y’all’s sex mission statement at? Straight up. If you want to have a better and more fulfilling sex life in the upcoming year, it’s important that you and your partner get together to jot down a couple of paragraphs about what kind of goals you want to set surrounding your sex life and the mutual commitment that you both will make to achieve said-goals. Then put the statement somewhere where you both can see it on a regular basis.
Research says that you have a 42 percent greater chance of reaching your goals when you write them down. That said, please determine in your mind to go into 2022 with an official sex mission statement. It’s a bona fide way to end this year with a bigger smile on your face than you started it with. I can almost guarantee it!
Featured image by Getty Images
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.
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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.
Y’all, I don’t know if now just happens to be a heavy season for this or perhaps it’s just me, but whether it’s been on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or “X” (which we all know is still Twitter…LOL), have you noticed that a lot of people have been talking about the pain of going through a friendship break-up? I’ll be the first to raise my hand in this class and say that some of the ones that I’ve personally experienced over the course of my lifetime damn near took my breath away; especially when it comes to the unexpected levels of grief that oftentimes typically follow (check out “How To Heal From A Broken Friendship”).
When I write my next book (that’s currently slated for release in June of 2024; just in time for a big milestone), I’m going to share some of the things that personally caused me to go through the ending of some friendships. For now, I’m going to share a big one: friendship infidelity.
Yeah, I know — oftentimes, whenever the word “infidelity” is used, the main (if not only) thing that comes up in people’s minds is someone cheating on their partner. However, if you’ve read my content for a while now, you already know that an “occupational hazard” of mine is the fact that, as a writer, I’m pretty word-literal. Therefore, when it comes to infidelity, I’m aware that it’s got more than one meaning. And when it comes to friendship (or so-called friendships — check out “Ever Wonder If A Friend Is Just...Not That Into You?” and “7 Signs Your Friendship...Actually Isn't One”), yes, there is a definition that totally applies. Let’s discuss.
What Does Infidelity Literally Mean?Giphy
In order for this to “scratch any itch” that you might have about this particular topic, let’s get into the definition of infidelity that I was referring to. While yes, the most popular one is “marital disloyalty; adultery” (one day, we’ll have to talk about how the Bible doesn’t define adultery in the way that folks think it does (check out Matthew 19 sometime), another definition is “unfaithfulness; disloyalty.” While we’re at it, let me share a few synonyms for the word too: betrayal, falseness, inconstancy (bookmark that), deceit, double-dealing, fraud, breach of trust, violation, dishonesty, and false-heartedness.
Okay, so now do you see how it is totally appropriate to use the word “infidelity” in the realm of friendship if someone has been unfaithful or disloyal to you in any of these ways (that inconstancy one is a mutha!)? Do you also get that there is a huge possibility that, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself, there are times when you’ve committed some form of infidelity when it comes to one or more of the friends in your life?
Because be real — have you never breached their trust? Have you always been consistent? To violate is to treat someone or something with disrespect. Have you never done that before? Only your ego would tell you that you’ve been a perfect friend — and the ego lies.
That said and with the meanings of a different kind of infidelity established, let’s now talk about how to approach this type of experience…because it ain’t easy.
When It Comes to Faithfulness in Your Friendships, What Should Your Expectations Be?Giphy
As far as having my own accounts, I don’t do social media (still trying to decide if I will, a little bit, around my book release) — and it has been peace, wonderful peace, to live that way. This means that it’s pretty rare that I’ll read comments via any of the platforms I write for (also peaceful). Oh, but a few years ago, when I penned “Why I Prefer My Friends To NOT Be Friends With Each Other,” I did tiptoe out a bit, and boy, some folks were disgruntled with me, chile. I was called petty, problematic, and a host of other stuff.
Uh-huh first, I don’t get how you can be mad at me about what works for me and my life (being controlling manifests in all sorts of cryptic ways) and secondly, time and experience have taught me that it’s a boundary that has served me extremely well. One of the reasons is that, since friendship infidelity is a very real thing, my lines not crossing helps to keep people from betraying my confidence or double-dealing in a way that may not even be intentional.
An example? Say that I have two friends and I tell one of them something in confidence. Then she tells the other friend, assuming that I already had because she thought that the other friend and I had similar discussions. This would be a non-issue if I hadn’t brought them together in the first place.
Another example is, one of my closest friends has some people who I like a lot who live in Nashville (my friend doesn’t). Sometimes, when she comes into town, we’ll all hang out. I don’t do it outside of that, though, because there are things that she shares with me about them on occasion (from a getting a different perspective to make certain decisions angle; especially since I’m a life coach) that I don’t want to make her or them feel awkward about (even if it’s just due to somewhat of a shift in my energy). Plus, everyone just needs to have their own people. This ain’t high school; everyone doesn’t have to be in the same cliques.
If one of my friends wants to vent about me…I don’t care if/when they are talking to someone who I don’t even know…because I’m not friends with that person… because I don’t expect anything from a complete stranger. So again, this type of boundary has served me extremely well over the years — and my friends agree. It has made “faithfulness” so much easier for all parties involved because again, lines don’t cross and things don’t get messy.
Okay. I’ll give you one more example that has to do with one of my male friends and his personal friendship-related preference. Due to his high-profile profession, he doesn’t like to be discussed at all, not even casually (really). He doesn’t want me to bring his name up and, when someone else does, he prefers that I keep the conversation down to an absolute minimum, no matter what the topic is. For him, it works for his close friendships to be somewhat private, so that people don’t know who they can go to in order to get in touch with him or to receive any intel that he hasn’t directly shared — professionally or personally.
Some people may call that “paranoid.” For him, it’s safe to move that way. And so, as his friend, it’s not my job to try and talk him out of his standard. If I value our friendship, I simply need to honor his request — plain and simple. To do otherwise would be an act of unfaithfulness (especially if I agreed to what he asked me to do and then switched up on him).
So, when it comes to you, what are your expectations? What do you need — actually require — of your own friends? Have you stated those things? Because you should never assume that your definition of what a friend should be is exactly the same as someone else’s. Next, have you made it abundantly clear to them that if those expectations are not honored, you will feel some level of betrayal? If you haven’t, you should because, although most of us can agree that a partner sleeping with someone other than their own spouse is a form of infidelity, friendship infidelity isn’t quite so black and white.
If you want your friend(s) to be faithful — “true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.,” “steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant” — you need to be upfront with them about what they are vowing to do…what you want them to be constant in? Because, again, how you might roll as a friend may be something different to/for them.
Come to think of it, love languages in friendships is a good example of this. One of my close friends is a quality time person; I’m not. On the other hand, I am a words of affirmation person; she isn’t. She used to think that it was a given that I should want to hang out at least once a month and I used to get irritated that she wasn’t big on words. When we had a talk about our individual expectations, we found a “middle ground” and that made things so much easier…on both sides. Indeed, in order to be faithful (or unfaithful), you first gotta know what you’ve agreed to be faithful to. It’s not fair to expect someone to honor you and what you bring to a friendship if you’re not communicating your expectations on the front end.
So, what should your expectations in your friendships be? That, I can’t answer for you, because even when it comes to across-the-board traits like support, availability, and communication, honestly, even those are gonna manifest differently for different people.
All I’m saying is make sure that you share what your expectations are as you listen to theirs as well. That way, you both can move forward in your friendship knowing what you have mutually agreed to actually be faithful to.
What Should You Do If a Friend “Cheats on You”?Giphy
Okay, so what if, after you have established what you need/expect from your friend, they are unfaithful or disloyal? That’s kind of a loaded question because there are a lot of different ways that this box can get checked. For instance, I once had a friend who kept trying to put me in touch with someone who I knew was unsafe (on a lot of levels). She kept asking and I kept telling her “no.” One day, she called me and then handed that person the phone — she was disloyal because she dishonored my boundary.
Back in the day, I used to write devotionals and I shared the story (sans her name) in it. All of a sudden, she thought that she was the victim (gaslighting friends are something else). So wait — you put me in harm’s way and I need to apologize to you for it? If her identity was obvious (I didn’t even say “she”), I get it — it wasn’t. She just felt guilty and didn’t want to take accountability. As a result, she weaponized our friendship by going ghost for like a year and then tried to come back as if nothing had ever happened. Chile.
For me, there was no coming back. The way she handled that, on a few different levels, was emotionally draining and I honestly didn’t have the stamina for it. So, I ended the relationship officially. Years later, we saw each other and made our peace. I’m fine with it being just that (check out “Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead”).
That’s kind of an extreme example. Still, the reason why I brought it up is because I wanted you to see how I handled one form of friendship infidelity: I thought about what happened, I pondered what I was getting (and not getting) from the friendship, I thought about how she handles things when she is in the wrong and I focused on what would be the benefits and challenges of keeping her in my life. The conclusion that I came to is I care enough about her that we’re not rolling our eyes in the mall or sucking our teeth whenever one of our names comes up to the other yet I don’t want her to continue walking closely to me in my journey. I’m good.
For you, it might be a bit different. What if one of your friends betrays you in some way? Is it fair to take a “one-and-done” approach? I dunno. Is that how you would want your friends to handle you? Do you want to feel like, no matter what, after you make one mistake (or poor choice; not everything is a mistake…some things are intentional), there’s no coming back? If so, you might not want to have relationships at all because humans are fallible, INCLUDING YOU. You might as well settle in with that fact now or you’re about to be triggered, irritated, or angry for most of your life, chile.
What Should You Do If YOU’RE the One Who Cheats?Giphy
Over the weekend, I watched a movie where a woman cheated during a long-distance relationship and then claimed that her boyfriend was “punishing her” because he wasn’t over it a month later. The first thing that came to my mind? A lack of accountability. Why? Because I’m pretty sure that if the shoe had been on the other foot, she wouldn’t be all rainbows and sunshine four weeks later…either.
Being that I grew up in an environment (pretty much everywhere, including church) where folks absolutely sucked at taking personal responsibility for their actions without trying to make excuses, using justifications, deflecting, or gaslighting, I am almost violent about making sure that I don’t follow suit. And because I’ve had times when I’ve violated someone’s boundaries (I used to be more controlling than I should’ve ever been) and/or betrayed their trust (just because I’m basically an open book, that doesn’t mean that I should assume that everyone is the same way) — I’ve had to learn how to take full ownership for my actions. Then, if the person is open to accepting my apology, I would take things up a notch by making amends (check out “Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made”).
If you’re not sure what an "amends" is, basically, when you’ve done something that has offended someone or caused them some type of harm if you’re truly remorseful, it’s not enough to flippantly toss a “my bad” in their direction. No, when you really get the magnitude of what has transpired — and if you want to restore the damage that was caused — you need to be intentional about doing something that will help with the healing process. This can happen with a simple, “What can I do to make things better?” People who apologize and then ask something along those lines show that they really get what they did; not only that but they are displaying that they want to humble themselves enough to help the person they hurt to “recover” in any way that they can.
So, if you are the one who was unfaithful or disloyal — own it, address it, apologize (without any unnecessary extra-ness, make amends, and then give your friend space to heal…however they need to do so. Infidelity hurts in any kind of relationship dynamic yet when two people — BOTH INDIVIDUALS — really want to make things work, they can come back from it. Oftentimes better than they were before.
How to Heal from Friendship InfidelityGiphy
It really can’t be said enough that humans are fallible. In fact, it is my belief, that if more of us said that as a mantra, five times a day, we’d probably be a lot more merciful than we tend to be. Because since none of us are perfect — INCLUDING OURSELVES — it really is pretty ridiculous to expect to be in relationships with folks and have them never disappoint you (where they do that at?!). The reality is sometimes a friend may be disloyal — not in a malicious or redundant kind of way (another message, another time) but just…they didn’t meet your requirements, they hurt your feelings (even if not intentionally) or they simply made a poor decision. Just like you have before — and at some point, will again.
Yes, it can hurt; trust me, I’ve been there. At the same time, you can heal from the pain and your friendship can survive too. The key is to really process the character of your friend, the track record of your friend, and if the benefits far outweigh the challenges with them. If everything is on the upswing, talk to your friend about how you are feeling, pay close attention to how they respond (if there is remorse, compassion, and patience), and then make the decision that you want to move forward. And then move in a way that shows that you’ve learned from it all.
For instance, say that you told one of your friends something in confidence and they repeated it. After getting context, if it was reckless chatter, healing begins with forgiving them, them trying to make things right and then you easing into sharing anything else. No, it’s not about keeping the door shut forever — it’s more like, telling them something that you don’t really mind if it gets out. If it does, although that’s not a big deal, you will now see that yapping is a pattern for them and so, although you like having them in your life, being a “confidant space” is not where they need to be — at least not for quite some time.
And what if, in your opinion, there is no coming back from friendship infidelity? How do you heal from that? Well, you need to grieve it like you would grieve anything else. Go through the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The key is to not stay stuck; especially in anger. Because really, how is that gonna help or change anything?
I’ve gone through some acts of extreme infidelity that took me a while to move to acceptance — really accepting that it happened and fully accepting that I had to let the relationship go. Yet once I got there, healing was waiting for me. Because I wasn’t beating myself up trying to read someone else’s mind or motive or exhausting myself by wishing things were different. No one can change the past. Even accepting that can restore you to some pretty unexpected levels.
This is the kind of topic that I really could write an entire book about. For now, I just hope that this article provides some clarity that, if you wonder if unfaithfulness is a real thing as far as friendship is concerned, it most certainly is. It’s also not automatically unforgivable either.
Last example: I’ve got a friend of decades who prioritized a woman that he barely knew over our friendship. Meaning, she was threatened by me being around and so he did whatever to make her happy even at the expense of what we agreed to do and be to each other, as friends. Friendship infidelity. He has since apologized and I told him what I am a firm believer in: the apology needs to breathe. I need to take some time, he needs to take some time and, in time, either we will still see value in our dynamic or, because an apology was made and then accepted, peace will always remain between us.
Infidelity is something that none of us want to experience — oh, but we probably will. When it comes to your friendships, perhaps you’ve got a (better) grasp on how to handle it.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end. Live long enough, chile, for better or for worse, you will know about both. I can almost guarantee it.
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