When it comes to a lot of the self-help content that I write on any platform, oftentimes what you’re going to see me offer up is a list of questions. There are a couple of reasons why. One reason is that, although most of us share similarities (just by being human), all of us are also individuals. So, for many things, there is no cut-and-dried answer — based on who you are, how you view things and the stage that you’re currently in when it comes to your life, your answers may vary from someone else’s. Another reason is because questions can cause us to look deeper into ourselves than we might do if the questions were never presented in the first place.
And so, since from what I’ve read and researched, the average American has sex approximately 54 times a year and also since many of them aren’t in a long-term committed relationship, I thought it would be a good idea to share a few sex-related questions; ones that, if you are currently single and sexually-active, you should ask yourself at some point before January ends. Just so you can be sure that you’re not just “having sex to be having sex” but that you are moving with clarity, so that what you are doing isn’t just what you want to be but need at this particular point and place in your life.
1. Why Am I Having Sex? (Or Not Having Sex?)
An author by the name of Daniel H. Pink once said, "Asking 'Why?' can lead to understanding. Asking 'Why not?' can lead to breakthroughs." And you know what? When it comes to sex, I think this is a very valid point. When you’re in a relationship and sexually active, oftentimes the “why” is easier to understand — sex is typically a very essential part of a romantic relationship, so you’re engaging in sexual activity in order to maintain the connection and bond. But what about when you’re not involved in something as serious? Beyond sexual pleasure, what are the other reasons why you are…engaging?
Listen, if your “why” is ONLY because you like how sex makes you (physically) feel, you’re grown and do you. However, being that no form of birth control is 100 percent effective and there are things like STDs floating around (some of which are incurable), it’s a good idea to think about if the act is worth the potential risks (like potentially getting pregnant by the person you are currently sleeping with) — and if you believe that it is, why is that?
There’s a flip side to this too. Recently, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “6 Solid Reasons To Consider A Season Of Abstinence In The New Year.” Whether you are currently abstaining or you’re strongly considering doing so for a season, you need a “why” too. Is it for religious reasons (because a holy book says not to)? Is it for spiritual purposes (you want to take some time to focus on your soul)? It is because you feel like you aren’t making wise choices when it comes to the partners that you’re picking (check out “Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner”)? Maybe it’s for reasons similar to why I chose to “do a bid” which was “I’ve been doing some of the same things, expecting a different result and I need a break to figure out what the hell is going on.”
Whatever the case may be, when you’re clear about why you’re not having sex, it can help you to set boundaries and then honor them, no matter how tempted you may be along the way, so that you’re able to reach whatever your intended goal is. Otherwise, if you’re just “doing it to be doing it,” you may be doing IT again, sooner than you planned (if you catch my drift).
2. Am I Getting What I Need from My Sexual Experiences?
“Need” is an interesting word because it can be defined in all sorts of ways. A need can be what you require. A need can be what you think is necessary. A need can be a wish. An unmet need can be a deal-breaker. And in the context of all of these things, if you are indeed sexually active, you need to ponder if you’re getting what you need from your experiences and from the people you are sharing these experiences with.
If you need foreplay, are you getting that? If you require a partner who isn’t sexually active with other people, have you stated that? If time together outside of the bedroom is necessary, is that what’s going down? If you wish that you could be getting more out of the sex than what you’re getting, what do you plan on doing to change that? When it comes to whatever it is that you need, are you willing to walk away if you don’t get it?
A lot of people stay in sexual situations that aren’t really fulfilling them because, although they aren’t receiving what they need, the “oxytocin highs” (the hormone that is designed to bond you to your partner, by the way) keep them caught up anyway. And unfortunately, it’s not until they sit down and ask themselves, “Is this what I need to be doing right now?”, do they even consider if things need to change — or end. There’s no time like the present to ponder your sexual needs. Please make sure that you do.
3. How Much Am I Prioritizing My Sexual Health?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “More than 1 million STIs are acquired every day.” If that isn’t enough of a reason to prioritize your sexual health and well-being, I honestly don’t know what is. So yeah, where’s your condom stash? If you’re on some other form of birth control, have you noticed that it’s compromised your health in other ways? When’s the last time you got tested for STDs? When’s the last time you asked your partner about their STD status? Are you noticing that you’re getting more yeast infections than usual (that can happen when sperm/semen throws your pH balance off; especially when you get a new sex partner)? And beyond the physical, how are you doing mentally and emotionally? Do you feel stable and secure in the dynamics that you are in? Are you experiencing any levels of guilt, confusion, or frustration? Does your sex life bring you peace or some low-grade levels of chaos?
Listen, there are a lot of things out in this world that feels good yet aren’t necessarily good for us. There are also things that provide great highs and then vast lows. While this isn’t always or automatically the case when it comes to sex, it’s always important to ask yourself if it is impairing your holistic health on some level — and if it is, what modifications you should make in order to change that.
4. Have I Set Any Sex-Related Goals? If Not, WHY NOT?
A goal is basically a directed aim. It’s when you set out to do something and, because of your commitment and laser-like focus, you achieve it. And yes, sis, when it comes to sex, you definitely should have a goal or two. I’m not saying that the goal has to be marriage. In fact, I wish folks would stop thinking that sex is a means to an end as it relates to cultivating a serious relationship because sex isn’t to be seen as a tool of manipulation. What I’m saying is, I know some people, single and married, who have a pretty piss poor sex life, and yet they are still quite active and it’s all because they’ve never thought about setting goals in order to make things a lot better.
Is the goal to have more orgasms? Is the goal to experience more romance (check out “Tonight's The Night For A Really Romantic Sexual Experience”)? Is the goal to try new things? Is the goal to not keep picking the same man who’s in a different (pardon the pun) package (check out “Are You Dating The Same Guy Over And Over Again? Maybe.”)? Is the goal to learn more about what it means to be a sexual being? Is the goal to figure out if you’re satisfied or merely settling? Whatever the case may be, again, setting sexual goals is a great idea because it can help you to sexually evolve — because in no area of your life should you ever be stagnant. Sex is not exempt.
5. Do I See Sex from Beyond a Physical Pleasure Perspective?
There’s a woman I know who basically talks about men like she loathes them. At the same time, she’s definitely one of the most sexually active people that I know. Whenever I bring up to her how semi-contradictory her mouth is from her actions, she usually says something along the lines of, “It’s just sex.” Yeah, not really. Even if you don’t choose to look at sex from a spiritual angle, oxytocin is called the love/bonding hormone because that is a part of what the act does — brings you closer to your partner. You making the choice to not acknowledge that changes absolutely nothing.
So yes, it is also a good idea to do a little bit of sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) to really reflect on your views of sex — outside of the bedroom. How did you learn about sex? What were your first experiences like? How do you go about selecting your partners? What are the things that you are proud of? What do you regret? Who were your favorite and least favorite partners and why do you feel the way that you do about them? How does sex affect you on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level? How has your sexuality regressed, shifted, or evolved throughout the years?
In order for you to know what you want/need sexually, it’s best that you really get to know yourself first. Beyond climaxing (or not climaxing), what’s your perspective on sex at this particular moment in your life?
6. Has Sex Been Making Me Better or Worse?
I like shouting out my peeps and there have been a couple of times when I’ve brought up GRAMMY/Emmy/Dove Award-winning producer SHANNON SANDERS. One of the songs that he wrote (and sings) that I really dig right now is entitled “Better.” While I’m pretty sure that it’s mostly because he can sing his entire ass off, there is something about him talking about how much better a woman makes him that really hits home with this particular point. The reason why I say that is because, another part of the reason why I took a break from sex is, it was actually getting to a point and place where, although the act felt amazing, it actually wasn’t making me a better person.
Something that makes you better improves you. Something that makes you better helps to complete you. Something that makes you better causes you to surpass who you were before you brought it into your life. Is sex doing that? For me, sex was making me worse. When something makes you worse, it makes you inferior when it comes to your character. When something makes you worse, it affects your health in a negative way. When something makes you worse, it keeps going on a decline from not good to mediocre to downright bad.
Listen, only you can know for sure if sex is making you better or worse right now, but if it isn’t Option A, what can — and should — you do to change it? Because anything that isn’t making you better is only making you worse…in the long run.
7. Am I Having Good Sexual Communication with My Partner(s)?
Last spring, I wrote an article entitled, “Are You A Good Sexual Communicator? You Sure?.” When I’m speaking of communication, I’m not talking about reenacting a love scene from your favorite rom-com (that is scripted anyway). I just mean that it’s so very important, especially when you are sexually active and not in a long-term committed relationship, that you and your partner remain on the same page. For instance, I know someone who has been having sex with one of her friends (check out “5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Having Sex with A Friend” and “How To Preserve Your Friendship After BAD Casual Sex”) for a while now and was assuming the entire time that they were only having sex with each other. NOPE. Because they are “just friends,” her guy-friend was like, “Why would you think that when we’re not in an actual relationship?” See why open, honest, and verbal communication is key?
How do you define intimacy? How does he?
Do you feel the two of you are sexually compatible? Does he?
What are your current turn-offs and turn-ons? What are his?
Is sex ultimately affecting or infecting your relationship?
What would cause the dynamic that you currently have to change?
Listen, there are a lot of people who have plenty of sex with someone and yet totally suck at verbal communication with them. That said, no matter what “kind of sex” you’re after this year, it’s important that you and your partner are in sync — not just so that you can be satisfied sexually but so neither of you end of blindsided in any way later down the road. Oh, and for those of you who are thinking, “Yeah, that would be awkward”…umm, they’ve seen you naked. You’ll be fine.
8. How Can I End 2022 with a “Bang”?
I don’t care what category it may be, one of the points and purposes of time is that we live our lives in such a way that we can look back and think, “Compared to this time last year, there have been vast improvements.” Although I’m sure you get that this last point has a bit of a pun to it (you know, BANG), I meant exactly what I said — if the sex you’re having right now was on a report card and the grade was “needs improvement,” what can be done over the next several months to make that a reality? And what are you going to do to make that so?
"Single sex" can sometimes be a bit of a complex topic but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed. Regardless of relational status, you deserve to get what you want. Getting the answers to the right questions can help to get you there. Sis, please make sure that you do! #wink
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood