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This Valentine's Day Can Be Sweeter, Sexier...Different.

15 ways to add a twist to V-Day this year.

Love & Relationships

Valentine's Day is an interesting holiday to me in the sense that it tends to come with such polarizing reactions—either folks totally adore it or they loathe it with every fiber of their being. When it comes to those who choose to stand behind Door #2, oftentimes, it's not because they are alone for the big day either. It's usually because there is unexpected pressure to go over-the-top or they are bored with the same 'ole roses, teddy bears and Hallmark cards approach.

This year, I thought it might be a good idea to come up with some ways to observe this calendar day of love that is a little atypical. Nothing too outside of the box but definitely some inspiration to step somewhat outside of the box and create a way to get excited about Valentine's Day…again.

1. Watch the Sunrise Together

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The older I get, the easier it is for me to go to bed around 10pm and wake up at the crack of dawn. It's reminded me of the fact that there really is something that is pretty beautiful about sunrises. The sky is beautiful and the birds are chirping, even though the world is still pretty, well, still. If someone is in the bed with you, it's also an ideal time to engage in a little bit of pillow talk or even morning sex with your partner. Thankfully, this Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday but if you happen to work on the weekends or you've got kids, setting your clock to get up a little earlier this year can give you and yours some time alone so that you can start the day—and holiday—off right.

2. Enjoy a Libido-Boosting Breakfast

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Breakfast in bed is always pretty romantic. How about making one that is loaded with aphrodisiac foods such as an avocado omelet (the Vitamin E in the avocado will increase your sex drive); some banana pancakes (bananas' potassium will support your sex hormones); some chocolate muffins (chocolate is packed with antioxidants); a couple of strawberry smoothies (strawberries are packed with Vitamin C which can increase blood flow, including to your genitalia) and/or some ginger tea with honey (its gingerol will relax you as the boron in honey will regulate your estrogen and testosterone levels). It's a delicious way to get some of your juices flowing.

3. Customize Your Candles and Wine

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As far as Valentine's Day purchases go, I recently saw some candles that cracked me up. If you click on this link here, Etsy has an entire section of ones that say something along the lines of "Light this whenever you want a blow job" (there is one about our clitoris too. You can find it here). It's the kind of gift that is fun and still pretty sexy. On the romantic tip, I don't know too many people who aren't down for a bottle of wine, especially on special occasions. If you'd like to customize the bottle or the packaging, Personal Wine is one site that will let you do just that. And since wine is also considered to be an aphrodisiac, why not? Shoot, my recommendation is that you get both—the candle and the wine. Why not?

4. Take a Walk Down Memory’s Lane with Childhood Candies

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Back when we were in elementary school, many of us went to the grocery store to pick up those Valentine's Day cards that resembled postcards so that we could give them to our friends. As an added bonus, sometimes, we would tape candies to them. I don't know about you, but I actually had some pretty fond memories of this time in my life.

Anyway, another cute idea is to ask your partner what their favorite childhood candies were and then go to a site like Old Time Candy to pick them up. Spending a part of the night sharing childhood stories is a great way to get to know your partner better and understand some of what has made them the person they are today. Real talk.

5. Give Each Other a “Healing” Present

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Whenever I think of a favorite India.Arie song, one that immediately comes to my mind is "The Truth". What I've heard other women say that they adore is "He Heals Me". I get it because, could there be a higher praise than telling someone that they play a huge role in bringing you to a state of wholeness? If there is some way that you can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that your partner has played a direct role in improving you, restoring you, reviving you, settling you or soothing you, why not get them something that symbolizes that? Maybe a personalized gratitude journal. A chakra bracelet. A massage gift certificate. Some reflexology gloves. A piece of jewelry in their favorite gemstone. One of these, along with a handwritten thank you note can definitely make your partner feel seen and appreciated. And who doesn't want/need that?

6. Make “Why I Love You” Notecards

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Speaking of songs, one that continues to totally be my jam, even after all of these years, is Monica's "Why I Love You So Much". Even if you don't have a ton of time or money to do much, something that can be a very sweet gesture is to create some flashcards with different reasons why you love your partner. Break the categories down into physical, emotional, relational, sexual, mental and spiritual. Put each category on the front of the card, color code them and then write your reasons on the back. No matter what your partner's love language may be, this is something that will truly move them. Affirmations always do.

7. Get Creative with Chocolate

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This year, instead of just getting your boo a box of chocolates, why not get more creative than that? Make some chocolate body paint (that's self-explanatory, right?). Soak together in a chocolate bubble bath. Soothe each other's muscles with some homemade mint chocolate massage oil. Enjoy a rom-com with some popcorn that is drizzled in chocolate. Kiss your partner all over with some DIY chocolate-flavored lip gloss. Try some chocolate fondue and fruit. If Valentine's Day has a signature flavor, chocolate would have to be it, but no one said that you had to go the traditional route so…don't.

8. Do a Little Bit of Sploshing

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A fetish that you may or may not have ever heard of before is sploshing. If you haven't, it's basically all about incorporating food into sex. Only, it's about rubbing food on your partner and/or having them rub it on you and you both eating it off. It's wet. It's messy. But when it's with your favorite partner and you incorporate your favorite kind of food, it can also be kinda hot.

Opt for something like a lemon meringue pie, some jello or anything that has a bit of a "smooshy" texture. Then go into the kitchen (since it's easier to clean that space up) and enjoy smearing the food all over each other and licking it off. It's definitely one of those "you've gotta try it" types of things, but some of my clients (yes, Black ones, 'cause I know how some of y'all can be with the stereotypes—LOL) enjoy every minute of it.

9. Take a Virtual Mixology Class

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I've written a few articles on here about how alcohol can boost your libido (check out "8 Summer-Themed Alcoholic Drinks That Can Boost Your Libido" and "Warm Drinks That Will...Warm You & Your Partner Up (Wink)"). If you and yours can always go for a nice drink but you want to expand beyond a glass of wine or shot of tequila, why not sign up for a virtual mixology class this year? Many of them are super affordable. One to consider is on the MasterClass site. You can check it out here.

10. “Mimic” Your Favorite Hotel Room

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Whether it's because money is super tight right through here or the pandemic has you on the "Yeah, I'll pass" tip, perhaps spending Valentine's Day in a hotel room isn't on the top of your list this year. A cool workaround is to find a hotel room that you really like and then duplicate the layout as much as possible. Just go to your favorite search engine, put "sexiest hotels" in the search field and links will come up with all sorts of pics of rooms and suites. I used to decorate couples' bedrooms all of the time. You'd be amazed what you can easily find at a Walmart or Target that can totally transform the space for between 30-50 bucks.

11. Take a Shower Together (with Surround Sound)

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If there's one place in the house where a lot of couples say that sex is not all that it's cracked up to be, the shower would probably be the one I've heard the most. While it can be a little crammed up in there, who said that you've always gotta actually copulate? Sometimes, it can be a great act of foreplay to just stand underneath the warm water while touching erogenous zones, kissing or even doing a little bit of a slow drag. One way to make any of these options even more appealing is to cop yourself a shower speaker. Some of the best Bluetooth ones are located here.

12. Have Your Own “Ceremony”

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If you're married, your wedding day was the "big ceremonious occasion". No one said that had to be your only one, though. Ceremonies are also kind gestures and formal acts. Something else that you can do on Valentine's Day is come up with some new promises to make to one another or create a ceremony (of sorts) that celebrates the love that the two of you share. It can require the two of you dressing up. It can be super casual. It can be a sexual ceremony. The approach and purpose are totally up to you yet it's another way to make Valentine's Day extra special.

13. Enjoy Foreplay by Flipping a Coin

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Some couples want to get better at dirty talk but they're not exactly sure how to go about it. If that's you, pull out a nickel or quarter and do what I call "flipping for foreplay".

Take turns tossing the coin into the air and calling out heads or tails. If your side wins, tell your partner something that you'd like for them to do for you. If your side loses, they get to make a request. If you do this right, you shouldn't get past five flips or so. At least, that's what I'm thinking. #wink

14. Download a Sex Game App

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Have you ever heard of the Desire game app before? If you haven't, you and yours should download it and give it a try. It's basically an app where the both of you can create sexy dares, ranging from light to off-the-charts. Whoever obliges the most wins. Now all you've gotta do is figure out what the prize will be (whew-whee!). If you're game, you can download it here. Another one that's somewhat similar is called Hot & Dirty Dares. You can check it out right here.

15. “Upgrade” Your First Time Together

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Whether your first time with your boo was everything you ever imagined it could be or it was honestly kind of a bust, use this Valentine's Day as a bit of either a recreation—or do-over. Set the scene the way you would like. Wear what you want to create the perfect mood. Reminisce about what made both of you decide to take the "leap" when you did. Discuss each other's first time fantasies. Sometimes, I counsel couples who have regrets. You know what I tell them? We can't change the past, but we can always recreate certain memories. Let this Valentine's Day inspire you to do that. You might look up and discover that it has quickly become your favorite holiday of all, if you do.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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