When it comes to the topic of oral sex, I can tell you, off the rip, that if there's one thing that both men and women can agree on, it's the fact that far too many people think that so long as they've got their mouth somewhere in the vicinity of their partner's genitalia, they are actually doing something. Absolutely not. Not even close.
At this point, I'm not sure I can be too "TMI" when it comes to the things that I share about my own life, including my sex life (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners"). So, when it comes to oral sex, specifically, I'll just put on out there that I actually asked my second sex partner to give me some lessons on how to do it in a way where he would be more than happy that I was "down". Personally, I was on a mission to take him to heights that were pleasurable beyond measure. He was a great teacher. I'll just leave it at that. #wink
It's because of him and all that I learned that I am a huge fan of folks not settling for less, yes, even when it comes to oral sex. So, if you happen to have a partner who is ready and willing to please, yet he's not really "hittin' on all cylinders" (if you know what I mean), I've got a few tips on how you can get him to perform cunnilingus, just the way you like it, without making him feel embarrassed, self-conscious or uncomfortable in the process.
Know What You Like
How in the world can someone please you if you don't even know what you like? And if the first thing that you want to say to me is, "I mean, so-and-so did it right", my first reply is, "Your current partner is not so-and-so" and my second is, "OK…and what does 'right' mean?". While there is so much to be said for sexual chemistry and the fact that some people just automatically gel, when that doesn't happen with the next person, that doesn't (automatically) mean they are a bad sex partner (check out "Is There REALLY Such A Thing As 'Bad Sex'?"). Sex is an ultimate form of communication, so it's important that you know what really turns you on and gets you off so that you can articulate all of that to him. Otherwise, expecting him to read your mind makes you a part of the reason why you're not getting what you want — and need. Straight up.
Play Some Music
I remember once reading that, from a scientific standpoint, R&B music has a way of putting us in a romantic mood while calming our senses at the same time. I definitely have no objections there and that's why I recommend putting on some R&B music during the act. For one thing, dead silence could potentially make you nervous while leaving your partner feeling self-conscious. Plus, when you're both listening to some of your favorite jams, that can put everyone involved at ease, making it easier to let loose and go with the flow.
Bring in Some Condiments
A couple of months ago, I wrote, "12 'Sex Condiments' That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious" for the platform. Hmm, that reminds me. Do any of y'all remember the restaurant The Cooker from back in the day? They used to sell a pie that was beyond wonderful. Anyway, if you got it to-go, all of the condiments would come on the side — stuff like chocolate syrup, whipped cream and caramel sauce. One of my favorite past sex partners, we took that back to the hotel room I was staying in and as I put some down around "her" (again, #wink), I remember he exclaimed, "Thank you. THANK YOU!" followed by, "my favorite two things in one!".
Yeah, sex condiments are dope on a few levels. They can make sex more fun and delicious (literally). If it's your partner's first time with you (or maybe first time, period), it can make them less "anxious" about entering into that space. And because — let's be honest — if things are going well, there is quite a bit of bodily fluid going on, it can make it easier for him to take it all in. For instance, you can put the condiment where you especially like to be licked and, believe you me chile, he will eat it right on up (pun intended and not intended at the same time) without hesitation.
Kiss His Lips…the Way You Want Yours Kissed
Ever been with someone who acts like they're trying to literally lick the Black off of you during oral sex? Like sir, relax. Sometimes men think that just because they want fellatio with a certain level of intensity that we are the same way when that oftentimes isn't the case at all. A way to get him to be a little more gentle is to take his face into your hands and let him know that the way you are about to kiss him up top is the way that you desire to be kissed down below. I know this is pretty effective because I've recommended it to some of my married clients and it improved things tremendously. One husband told me that it was because men like to be shown more than told what to do (sexually) a lot of the time. Makes sense. This actually brings me to my next point.
Avoid Being an “Oral Nazi”
Not too long ago, I did an interview where I was asked if I ever get triggered in counseling sessions. Chile…CHILE. You don't have the time and I don't have the writing space to get into all of that. What I will say is what tops the list is listening to someone who can dish criticisms — if not all-out berating — all day long and yet can't take it from their partner one bit. Where I am going when it comes to this particular topic is, how would you feel if "he" thought you sucked at giving head…and not in a good way? As a direct result, the entire time you were doing it, he barked directives at you? Well, you know what the Golden Rule says — a variation of it is don't dish what you can't take. Spending the entire time saying "do this" or "don't do that" is not only a little demeaning, it also doesn't make him want to continue…or return. There are other ways to get your points(s) across. One way is right below this.
Guide Him via Your Body Language
I'm pretty sure that you've heard somewhere that around 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. What a lot of experts are now saying is it's more like 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is tone of voice (a lot of people underestimate that part) and seven percent are actual words.
Either way, the greatest takeaway is that body language is huge when you're trying to convey something to someone else. Pulling his head into you. Guiding his fingers. Moving your pelvis either towards him (signaling "good") or away (signaling "not so good"). Slowly gyrating when you like something and slowing significantly down when you don't. Opening yourself up with your fingers so that he can get right where you want him to be. All of these are ways to get him to do — and not do — the things that you like…each without saying a single word.
Be His “Motivation”
To this day, I don't think there's a song (or visual) by Kelly Rowland that I like more than "Motivation". And listen, if there is ever a time and place when a man doesn't mind hearing "go, go, go…GO", it's during the act of sex. While I'm not the biggest fan, overall, of egos being in the bedroom, being your partner's ultimate cheerleader while he is doing all that he can to make you happy? I am definitely all about that. If dirty talk inspires him, do it. If he's hitting the right places, let him know. If you're on the brink of climaxing, find a way, verbally, to make that abundantly clear in order to boost his confidence to bring you to completion. Far too many fellas have told me that even if cunnilingus isn't their favorite thing in the world to do, hearing their partner get super hype makes it something that they look forward to…just on sheer hype-ness alone.
Stay in the Moment
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to sex — any kind of sex — is being so caught up in the end result that they don't take out the time to just…be in the moment. While there are very few things in this life that will ever top an earth-shattering orgasm, if you are overly preoccupied with getting to one, that can tense you up which could stress the both of you out, because the less relaxed you are, the harder it is for even the best lover to please you. So, instead of taking on the mindset that you want your partner to improve in order to make you climax, think more in the lane of you wanting your partner to learn how to please you so that you can enjoy just…being with him. That way, the pressure will remove itself and pleasure unspeakable can surely have its will and its way. Wheeeeew.
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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.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Chilli Opens Up About Flak She Received For Refusing To Settle In Dating And How Matthew Lawrence Has Everything On Her 'List'
Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas' dating journey displays how refusing to settle, and setting standards could lead one to find their ideal partner.
Over the years, The TLC group member had high-profile relationships with music producer Dallas Austin, with whom she shares an adult son, and R&B singer Usher.
Since then, Thomas has confirmed that she’s now dating actor Matthew Lawrence. Thomas and Lawrence, who were romantically linked in the summer of 2022 when they were spotted vacationing in Hawaii amidst the Boy Meets World star's grueling divorce with Cheryl Burke, would confirm their relationship in January 2023.
In a statement released by Thomas' representative, Christal Jordan, toPeople magazine, Jordan revealed that the couple had been dating since November 2022, two months after Lawrence's divorce was finalized. Jordan also shared that since Thomas began dating Lawrence, the singer is the happiest she's ever been.
To date, the couple has showcased their love by uploading various dancing Instagram posts on their respective accounts and talking about their whirlwind romance in numerous interviews.
Recently, Thomas opened up about her relationship with Lawrence during a virtual interview with The Tamron Hall Show. While recalling her VH1 dating series, What Chilli Wants, which aired on the network from 2010 to 2011, the 52-year-old provided information about why she set such high dating standards in the form of a list known as "Chilli's Checklist" and the steps she took to prepare herself for love.
Chilli On Matthew and Her Dating List
During the May discussion, Thomas disclosed that she wanted to show women the importance of setting standards, and although, at the time, she received massive backlash for it, she refused to settle when it came to love.
Thomas received scrutiny for her list because many thought some of her standards were unobtainable. Thomas' requirements for an ideal partner included not wanting someone that drank, smoked, or ate pork.
In addition to all those qualities, the star also wanted someone that loved God. Because of Thomas' determination to find her perfect match, the "Creep" vocalist claimed that she "waited it out."
"On my show, I always hoped that women see the importance of having high standards. I got a lot of flack from that, but I don't care. For me, I just waited it out. I'm like, 'Lord, if it happens, wonderful. If it doesn't, I'm still okay," she said.
As the topic shifted to Lawrence, Thomas raved about her new beau and shared that the 43-year-old had met all the qualities she wanted in a partner, from his physical appearance to his love for God.
"Matthew, honestly, he's the list... He is my entire list, and so I thank god every day for this," she stated.
Even though it may have taken years and several failed relationships, it is inspiring to see that Thomas refused to settle and worked on herself along the way until she found her person.
Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas’ Next Chapter & Romance With Matthew Lawrence
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