As a relationship writer and a marriage life coach, a part of my job is to ask questions; sometimes, it's really intimate questions. And, after hearing a few couples that I work with express some of the things that they wish their partner would change in the bedroom, that got me to thinking that it would be a great piece for the site. Because, after all, sexual dissatisfaction—or sexual pet peeves—on some level, is pretty much something that 98.9 percent of us can relate to. The challenge was, finding a group of people who were ready and willing to bear their coitus gripes out of front street, on such a public platform. Oh, it took some doing, believe you me. But after getting a few referrals from friends of friends and agreeing to share people's middle names instead of first ones, I got it. I got 8 men and 8 women to share with me what they wish their partner would stop doing in bed.
Many of them actually said that, just by voicing their concerns, it felt sexually liberating in a way; it made them want to discuss their issues with their partner more. And honestly, that's what I'm hoping that reading this will do for you. Nothing really goes away by internalizing your frustrations or hoping that someone will catch the hints or side-eyes that you throw. Besides, great sex is all about healthy and consistent communication, right? If you want your partner to stop—or start—doing something, you've gotta let 'em know.
So, without further ado, here are 16 individuals sharing some of the things that they wish their partners would quit doing in the sex department, based on eight different categories. Get a glass of wine. This should be pretty good.
1. When It Comes to Initiating Sex
According to a survey of 4,000 Americans, 22 percent of women say that they rarely, if ever, initiate sex while 13 percent of guys fell into the same category.
Janelle, 26. "I bet a lot of women can relate when I say that I have no problem getting my hubby to initiate sex. Problem is, he misses signals about when I'm initiating or not. Don't let a sistah put her head in his lap while watching a movie or kiss him on the neck while he's cooking. Automatically, that seems to be his cue for 'it's on'. Don't get me wrong, the sex is unmatched. But if there is anything that I wish I could get my husband to stop doing, it's thinking that affection automatically means sex. It doesn't."
Isaiah, 42. "Women can send some of the most mixed signals, I swear. They want to be treated as equals and I totally get that. But then it should be automatic that a man pays for every date, proposes and initiates sex because 'that's a man's job'? So, when do we lead and when don't we? Aren't there some double standards here? I've been in a relationship for a couple of years now and, while she's 'a boss' in every way, when it's time for sex, she thinks that it's a given that I should initiate because 'I'm the man'. What the hell? Guys want to feel wanted just as much as women do. And, nothing turns us on and actually shows that a woman is taking control more than when she initiates sex."
2. When It Comes to Kissing
"Interestingly and perhaps depressingly, people in monogamous relationships were less likely to kiss their partner during their last sexual encounter: just 61% of coupled-up people said they kissed their partner the last time they had sex."—"Why Some People Don't Like Kissing During Sex (Yes, It's Normal)"
Alexis, 31. "I can't tell if [name omitted] is a good kisser or not. Sometimes he comes off as being passionate, then sometimes it's like he's trying to put his whole tongue down my throat. I'm not trying to put him out there or anything. Most times, I think I like how he kisses. But I do wish that he would pick up on my cues more. Like if I grab his face, that means I need to pull back or if I'm dead silent, that usually means this isn't working…or I can barely breathe." (LOL)
Roosevelt, 40. "I don't know where my partner came from, but she's one of those women who hates to kiss. I'm the kind of man who is all about it so, while her sex game is super on point, this 'no kissing thing' that she's got going on could end up costing her our relationship."
3. When It Comes to “Presentation”
Did you know that,reportedly, 86 percent of men care what a woman's underwear looks like, most of them prefer when bras and panties match, and only 12 percent of men actually dig thongs?
Melina, 45. "My man is great with hygiene and manscaping. But I'd like it if he'd wear something sexy more often. Some boxer briefs in my favorite color would be perfect. Girl, I don't even know if that man knows what my favorite color is…I'll have to ask him."
Karu, 24. "What we think is sexy isn't always what y'all think is. Like, I'll get my lady something that I want to see her in and she might wear it once or twice. But then she's always coming to bed in the same T-shirts and boy shorts or something that was leftover from her bridal shower [they are newlyweds by the way] that doesn't really turn me on. Maybe I don't get the whole lingerie thing, but are you guys wearing it for you or for us? If it's supposed to be for us, let us pick it out more. We know what turns us on."
4. When It Comes to Foreplay
According to a study that consisted of 152 heterosexual couples, most women said that they wanted 19 minutes offoreplay (but would settle for seven) while most men said they desired 18 minutes of foreplay (but would settle for eight).
Krysten, 37. "It's like having pizza every day. Pizza is one of my favorite foods. Eating it every day is eventually going to make me hate it. My husband is foreplay pizza. The foreplay is long and sensual and passionate, but he needs some new tricks in his bag. I just don't have the heart to tell him and, I'm definitely not gonna forward him this article."
Fredrick, 28. "I don't know if a lot of women know just how bad they are at foreplay. It's like Valentine's Day. Everyone assumes that the guy should get his lady something but it's cool if she does nothing. Just because we cum quicker, that doesn't mean we just want to be kissed on the mouth and then put it in. I've been with my current girlfriend for about six months now. She wants 20-30 minutes of foreplay. Meanwhile, she thinks that if she licks my dick for 30 seconds, she's done something. We have erogenous zones too. Damn."
5. When It Comes to Oral Sex
"Performing oral sex has long been a sign of intimacy and trust between lovers and the importance of oral sex in a relationship hasn't wavered. 72% of women and 85% of men say they think oral sex has a place in every bedroom and the performance of it shouldn't taper off as the years go on."—"The success of an affair depends on the amount of oral"
Jelena, 30. "Why do guys assume that, just because they are down there that they are actually doing something? Or worse, that what works with the chick before me is gonna work on me? My guy is great when it comes to intercourse but he kinda sucks at oral. Whenever I try and guide him with my sounds or words, his ego takes over and he acts like the faster his tongue moves, the quicker I'll cum. I hate fast tongues. Slow the f—k down. Ugh. Like, for real."
Thomas, 48. "I wish that sometimes my wife would swallow. We've been married for six years now and I think it's happened, what, five times? She's tried to explain to me that between the speed of it coming out and its texture, she just can't get into it, but I wonder how she would feel if I declined going down on her for similar reasons. Women talk about how selfish men can be in bed but some of you can be a real trip too."
6. When It Comes to Intercourse
LELO's "Are You Satisfied With Your Sex Life Survey" (which consisted of 10,000 participants), 31-40 year-olds are having the most sex; doggy style (50.1 percent), cowgirl (38.24 percent) and then missionary (34.66 percent) are people's favorite sex positions; 32.46 percent of individuals would like a dominant sex partner and, 29.26 of people said that their sex life is good.
Zipporah, 24. "Is it just me or is slow and deep so much better than that fast jerky movement stuff? And why do so many men think that all Black women love doggy style? I don't. My man thinks that because his dick is big that is stroke is hot. It's a crap shoot, honestly. What I do like is he's gonna make sure that I get mine, even if it's just with oral. But you asking me this is giving me the courage to tell him that ramming me 60 miles per hour while asking me if I like it ain't the business. I'd take off about two inches of his dick if it would make him switch his stroke up a bit."
Phelan, 40. "Faking it is stupid. Only young boys and selfish assholes can't tell when you are doing it. You do know that your muscles actually contract in there, right? I've been having sex for a long time now and, only one of my girlfriends never faked it. We had the best sex too. The woman I'm with now? I think she's too tense to not fake her orgasms. She's also super self-conscious, so I'm trying to figure out how to either get her to stop [faking it] or get her to cum. Preferably both."
7. When It Comes to Afterplay
In a study that consisted of both men and women discussing the importance of foreplay, intercourse and afterplay, women found foreplay to be most essential while men valued intercourse the most. At the same time, women desired more foreplay and afterplay overall.
Enara, 33. "OK, this is hilarious right here. Do guys even know what afterplay is? While my man is good for some spooning after sex, I already know not to expect much more than that. It kinda pisses me off, but since the sex is straight fire, I figure it's the concession that I have to make."
Stefan, 29. "Are deep talks about feelings a definition of afterplay because that is my girl's go-to every single time. Listen ladies, after we've had a good orgasm, all we want to do is sleep. You know that teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons? That's how you sound when you come at us about where the relationship is going and how we feel about your commentary. We can't hear what you're saying. The sex was great. Let's talk about it when we're not naked and in this wet spot, please." (By the way, if you don't get his Charlie Brown reference, you can check out a clip here.)
8. When It Comes to Frequency
"According to a Kinsey Institute study from 2017, 34 percent of married couples are having sex two to three times per week; 45 percent a few times a month; and 13 percent only a few times a year."—"But Seriously, How Often Do Couples Have Sex?"
Oni, 36. "I want to have sex more than my partner does. While he's down for 2-3 times a week, I'd prefer to double that number. I've told him that the compromise should at least be that I get more head. We're negotiating that."
Donnie, 40. "A lot of men want sex as much as they can get it, but you know what? If we just know that our partner wants to more than a once a week, that can tie us over, even if we can't get any. That's a secret from the man cave, ladies. Use that wisdom wisely."
Welp. There you have it. 16 people sharing what they would like to be done differently in the bedroom. Whether or not you can relate, use this as the inspiration you need to praise your partner where they are great and to open up where you'd like to see some improvement. Again, communication is key to totally off-the-chain sex. Make sure that you use it.
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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