A couple of months ago, I was catching up with a male friend of mine who knew me back when I was throwin’ it back. OK, I guess I need to qualify that a little better because, he has never known me in the biblical sense; what I mean is, he knew me back when I was sexually active. “OK, so how many years is it about to be?” he asked. What’s funny is he sounded more stressed out about my abstinence than I did! It’s actually going to be 15 years this coming January 9 and chile, CHILE. I never would’ve thought. As far as my own journey, you can read about some of it via an article that I wrote on the topic a whopping three years ago (“I've Been Abstinent For 12 Years. Here's How.”).
And while I know that a lot of y’all probably think that it is beyond insane that I’ve been “without” for so long when I write about sex so much, to that I’ll just say — when I was having sex, I was having sex (check out “14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners”). Plus, I did used to work with a ministry that people out of porn (check out “Working For A Porn Ministry Got Me Over Watching Porn”) and I do work with couples for a living as a marriage life coach. All of this can serve as a myriad of cautionary tales.
Don’t get me wrong — I like sex. I LIKE SEX A LOT (yes, I am yelling it!). It’s just that my season of abstinence has taught me how to approach it differently, including how to see it from more angles than merely relational maintenance and physical pleasure. The 15-year bit (or bid — LOL) is more about, the more I learn about myself, the purposes of sex and watch how the world is damn near losing its mind over the “surface level benefits” of it, I just want to make sure that I don’t return to the hamster wheel from which I came. Not only that but I value “her” (you know what I mean) more than I ever have.
Plus, it can help me to share all of what I’m about to say from so-much-clearer perspective. Because while I get that most of y’all will never (EVER) wanna say you’ve gone without some good-good for 15 years of your life, I do hope (if you’re single, of course) that you’ll consider at least a few months to a year of abstinence at some point in the game. Here’s why.
1. You Can Fully “Detox” Your Past
For the most part, I’m cool with all of my past sex partners. I’m not saying that we’re homies or anything yet there is enough peace between us to the point that we can run into each other and genuinely be happy to see each other too (check out “Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour”; it helped). In fact, not too long ago, I ran into a past partner and we chopped it up in a grocery store parking lot for about an hour or so. It was actually really refreshing to be in his space, laugh and joke, and then walk away not…feeling some type of way, especially since he was one of my “climbing the ceiling” guys (it was good and I ain’t ashamed to say it). While we were both fully aware that we had been sexually involved for a few years back in the day, it now seemed like a lifetime ago and whatever happened/didn’t happen back then was pretty much irrelevant now.
The same thing goes for my first love. After us both emotionally going round and round and round for decades (literally), I finally came to a place where I didn’t want to try and relive anything. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that until you learn your lesson, the universe will keep on bringing it back to you. Well, there has always been a part of me who wanted us to get back together because he was young the first round and I wanted to because I was “green” the first round. Sex was not exempt from this. However, because I have been able to purge him out of me — him, along with the other 13 guys — I can now see things, not from the angle of being on my back (pun intended) but a 30,000 feet view of sexual sobriety. I have been able to separate how the sex made me feel from how the relationship did and why I chose the people that I did. It has been revelatory like a mug too.
Detoxing is literally about going through a process of getting toxins out of your system so that you can overcome physical as well as psychological dependence on something — or someone. It’s real easy to say (or think) that you don’t need to do this when it comes to sex and people…until you’re actually abstinent and can look at things from the perspective that it provides.
2. You Can Figure Out What You Want Besides Good…Well, You Know
Another article that I once wrote for the platform is about casual sex and why I think that term is one of the greatest oxymorons of our time (you can check it out here). One of the reasons why it literally grates my soul is because casual means things like “without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing” and “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned” and even if, for some reason, you see sex this way, why in the world would you want someone to approach you in this kind of headspace and heart space?
When you’re out here getting good D, you can kind of rationalize your way out of this point, even if it’s ultimately to your detriment, because sometimes how a person makes you feel during the act of sexual intimacy causes you to think that they value you in other ways when that isn’t always, automatically or necessarily the case at all. I believe I’ve shared with y’all before that I’ve got a male friend of mine who once told me (after I asked him how guys can just have sex with folks and not care about them whatever), “Do you think it’s intimate if I jack off in the shower? Jack off in the shower, jack off in a girl. One just feels better than the other when there is no connection.”
You know, we’ve really gotta free ourselves from thinking that just because we want sex to affect or alter our dynamic with someone then that means that it will. We also need to take some personal accountability for when we ignore what I just said and things don’t go as planned.
Abstinence played a huge role in me getting — and I mean, really getting — these points into the depths of my spirit. It’s also a part of the reason why I can write about sex all day long, sometimes like I just had it last night, and not feel rushed to run out and get some, just to do so. I’ve had good sex — great sex, even — multiple times. What I have only had a handful of, though, is holistically healthy and fulfilling relationships. And like I say often until there is a condom for the heart, I have to make sure that I protect — and by “protect”, I mean fully value — all of me. More has to be good than just the d--k.
Abstinence has helped to raise this bar. Exponentially so.
3. You Can Get Your Health Fully on Track
I do interviews fairly often. Whenever the topic of my past sex life comes up, something that I am sometimes asked is what my "ultimate low” was. Now that I’ve made peace with not having children, I’d probably have to say that my four abortions top the list (check out “Why I Named The Children I Aborted”). Another sucky time was when I found out that I had chlamydia, mono, and strep throat, all at the same time, and was told by my doctor that the STD appeared to have been dormant in my system for a couple of years (chile). Oh, and then there’s the Thanksgiving week when I had unprotected sex with three of my exes (by “exes”, I mean, one ex-boyfriend and two former sex partners). I’m not sure why I did that. What I can say is the sex with all three was physically great in different ways and I remember just not wanting to do a lot of thinking or feeling during that time.
Anyway, during those seasons (and honestly, so many other times too), between bladder infections (check out “BDE: Please Let The ‘It Needs To Be Huge’ Myth Go”), yeast infections (condoms and I weren’t always the best of friends), playing around with different kinds of birth control, pregnancies and pregnancy scares, abortion recovery — my body was pretty worn out. I needed some time to just…be to myself, get to know my body (check out “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey” and “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) and get my pH and hormones back on track. The last time I had sex, I was 32 and I must say that from about 36 on, my reproductive health is better than it’s ever been. Honestly, my health, period, is better than it’s ever been.
Sometimes you need a season of abstinence, just to learn about your grown woman self from a physical- and health-related standpoint. You need time to prioritize your well-being outside of sex with a man so that you can understand your womanhood on a whole ‘nother level.
4. You Can Reconcile Your Sexuality with Your Spirituality
Chalk it up to my age if you want to. Maybe my church upbringing has something to do with it too. But to me, it’s really sad how much people think that sex is ONLY a physical act. It’s like folks are out here really thinking that they are no more than talking dogs in heat (which is a part of the reason why I will never get down with calling men “dogs” or us “bitches;” there are many ways subconscious “programming” affects and infects us) when actually, for us humans, sex is supposed to be out so much more than that.
While, on some levels, unfortunately, a lot of us tend to only associate things being spiritual with them being about a particular religion, you can check out articles like “7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone”, “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?” and “Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit” to know that I think it goes way past that. For instance, what I’ve oftentimes read is the spirit is defined as being our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity.
And while yes, I do believe, in part because the Bible says so (I Corinthians 6:16-20 — Message), that there is some sacredness to sex, even if you move past holy books (because the Torah and Quran pretty much advocate for the same points about sex as the Bible does), shoot the mere fact that copulation is an act that can create new human life — doesn’t that mean that it deserves to be approached from a very spiritual space? Doesn’t it make sense that it can affect — and, if we’re not careful, even infect — things like our intellect and emotions…that, if we’re not careful, it can cultivate fear, that it definitely taps into our passions and, it can even expand how we see things creatively?
Sometimes, when you’re too busy out here having sex, you can’t really process things on this kind of level. Committing to a season of abstinence to pray, meditate and consider how it is affecting your life on a spiritual level? That is never not a good thing to do.
5. You Can Define What Good Sex Is to/for You
A couple of articles that I’d like you to check out when you get a chance are “Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner”, “What If The Sex Is Great? But The Relationship Sucks.” and “What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be”. Oh, and one more —“Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?”. Back when I first became sexually active with my first love and then with, as my first book calls it, another guy who was my first lust, sex was super fascinating to me because I was discovering so many things that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of that, I wasn’t really wondering if sex was good FOR me or not; since it was good TO me, that’s all I really cared about.
Oh, but let a little bit of time and a higher sense of self come into the mix and you really do start to ask yourself — both in and outside of the bedroom — if the things that you are doing are actually good for your mind, body and spirit long-term. When it comes to sex specifically, if it’s doing more for you other than making you feel good for a few minutes…you really begin to ask yourself if the days, weeks, and months following can confirm that an hour of your time was really worthwhile.
Only you can answer that. What I will say is when something is good FOR you, it makes you holistically a better person. It doesn’t just make you feel good, it helps to elevate you as a human being. When it comes to this point, not just the act of sex needs to be factored in, so does who you’re having sex with. Again, only you can answer this question; to this, what I will say is you tend to be biased when you’re actually having sex. Going without for a season can help you to be far more objective — about the act and your partner.
6. You Can Figure Out How Sex Should “Fit” into Your Future
One of the main questions that I get asked about my abstinence is when do I think it will end? Ideally marriage, mostly because I’ve done it in every other relational dynamic (including engagement; my fiancé died a long time ago). I just like the level of commitment that comes with that type of union. Plus, this culture is getting stranger and stranger in that lane and the STDs just keep getting more and more resistant to treatment since I was active. We’ll see, though, because something else that life has taught me is, you really do need to be careful about the use/misuse of “always” and “never”. I’d like to be married but I’m in no rush to jump a broom (another article for another time) and so…like I said, we’ll see.
I will say this, though — never again will I take a casual, flippant, or even popular-in-this-society approach to sex. I know, far too well, how an act in the present can totally alter my future. It’s happened a myriad of times before. These days, sex needs to come with as much inner peace as it does physical pleasure. Until I’m as sure as possible that it will play out that way…I’m good.
As for you, whether it’s a couple of months, a year, or more, I promise you that once you return to sex, you too will think about if how you’re doing it and who you’re doing it with is best for you as it relates to who you are, where you are in your life and what you want for yourself, moving forward. A part of the reason why is because a season of abstinence is actually about “reprogramming yourself” to think long and hard with the future in mind. It’s about processing how you want sex to fit into your lifestyle as you continue to evolve.
This was a lot. I already know. Yet you know what? Contrary to popular belief (or ignorance), SEX IS A LOT. Refraining, even just for a little bit, can never be a bad thing when you see all of the good that can come from it. So, as you prepare to go into another year, at least give being abstinent some thought. Anything that can cause you to become a better person is always worth it, even if it takes some getting used to…right? Most definitely.
I am certainly a testament to that.
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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. ;)
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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