Not too long ago, while looking up some wedding data, I read a published study on The Knot that literally had me shaking my head. It was talking about how often married couples go on dates. The findings weren't very impressive. I'll put it to you this way—while 11 percent went on dates once or more a week, 30 percent only did it once a month and 36 percent hardly ever had one. That really is kind of disturbing considering most of us have heard that the way we get someone is the way we should keep them. Plus, dating shouldn't be seen as merely a way to woo someone into being in a relationship; it should also be about wanting to spend real quality time with them. No matter how long two individuals have been together, that should never get old.
If you totally agree but the challenge is that your lifestyle (hard to find a babysitter), budget (need to save most of your coins) or current circumstances (like a roaring pandemic that is happening at the time that I am writing this) are what's preventing you and yours for being as romantic as you'd like, I've got a few ways where the two of you can still date each other from the comfort, convenience and safety of your own home.
1. Have a Spa Day (or Night)
Something that can be romantic and sexy while also being a way to de-stress is to create a spa-themed date. It can consist of things like giving each other massages with aphrodisiac essential oils (see "Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage" and "8 Natural Aphrodisiac Scents, Where They Go & How To Make Them Last") and doing some reflexology on one another, to taking a soothing bath together; one that consists of DIY bath soak recipes. Make sure that you take luxury to another level by warming up your towels in the dryer before using them, picking up some rose petals to put into your foot soak or bathwater, lighting some soy scented candles, opening up a bottle of wine, and turning off all of your electronics (except maybe a device for some background music).
2. Binge-Watch a Series from Your College Years
Call it blinded nostalgia if you want to, but some of my favorite television-watching years was the early 90s. A Different World. Living Single. Martin. In Living Color. Yeah, those were the days. If you were in college then, take a walk down memory lane by binge-watching some of those shows with your significant other. Whether you knew each other or not at the time, it can bring up all kinds of memories and fun stories. You can take it up a notch and eat some of the same foods that you did while you were hanging out in your campus's university center. (By the way, this suggestion applies to any television era; the early 90s is simply my personal favorite.)
3. Put a Twist to Sip & Paint
Pretty much every city has at least one place where you can go to take painting classes while you sip on a glass of wine (or some other alcoholic beverage that tickles your fancy). Put a twist on that by throwing a very private and personal sip & paint at your house. Sure, you can put up easel if you want to. But I have something a bit more erotic in mind.
How about making some of your own body paint (or you can purchase some edible body paint, in a variety of different colors, here), stripping down to your underwear (or less) and painting each other? It's something that is both sexually stimulating and really fun at the same time; especially if you bring that bottle of red wine (which is a big time aphrodisiac) into the equation. #bottomsup
4. Go on a “Travel-Themed” Date
There are a couple of different ways to have a travel-themed date night in your house. One way is to either order or prepare foods that represent another country. You know, maybe a pasta dish to represent Italy or a Greek salad to represent Greece. The cool thing about this idea is your date can be any time of the day. For instance, maybe you want to make some Rabanadas (which is basically Portuguese French Toast) for a breakfast or brunch date, or a couple of bowls of Vegetable Pad Thai (which represents Thailand) late at night. Selecting foods based on a particular place can be a great way to expand your palate while bonding if you plan on preparing the dishes together.
Another approach to a travel-themed date is to put on some soft music, light some soy scented candles and hop on Instagram or Pinterest to plan a dream vacation together. And just where would you get the money to pay for it? Check out "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar". If you play your cards right, planning the date will be nothing more than a creative foreplay move (if you catch my drift).
5. Make a Disco Ball and Dance the Night Away
The more that you and your partner touch each other, the more oxytocin will surge throughout your systems to make you feel emotionally close and physically connected. So, why not have a night when you turn off most of the lights, put on your favorite music playlist and dance all night long? You can make it feel more like a "formal date" by actually dressing up and even hanging a homemade DIY disco ball from your ceiling. If the ball is something that you'd like to try, you can get some fairly easy step-by-step instructions here.
6. Design Your Own Drive-In (in Your Backyard)
Who said that you had to spend a mini mint on movie theater tickets? Buy some candy, pop some popcorn and watch your favorite flick from the comfort of your own backyard by setting up your own drive-in experience. For this idea, it all depends on how sophisticated you want it to be. You can purchase a projector and put together an entire set-up (click here, here, here or check out a great Dollar Tree video here for some tips on how to do that). Or, you can simply take your computer outdoors and watch a movie on that if you just want a change of scenery.
7. Enjoy a Sports Night Together
Even though there is apparently a scientific reason for why men like sports more than women do, there was a Gallup poll from a few years ago that said 51 percent of women consider themselves to be some pretty diehard sports fans too. If you are one of them, another date idea is to have a sports night at home. There's not much to this one. Simply order up some hot wings or pizza, crack open a couple of bottles of beer and watch a game or competition to your hearts' content.
8. Have a Video Games Competition
It's a huge misconception that it's only men who enjoy playing video games. In fact, one study revealed that as much as 46 percent of women consider themselves to be avid gamers. If you happen to fall into that demographic, have a video game competition with your man. If you'd prefer to take it back to old school retro stuff, articles like "The 6 Best Sites to Buy Retro Games Online" can help to point you in the right direction of finding vintage consoles and game cartridges. Just make sure that you come up with a really sexy prize for the winner in order to make this date all the more…stimulating.
9. Transform Your Bedroom into a Hotel Room
The married people in my world know that I advocate for them having as much sex as they possibly can. I try and put my money where my mouth is by sometimes putting couples up in hotel rooms or a bed and breakfast, free of charge. If money is a little tight right now and you can't afford to book a reservation, how about transforming your bedroom into a hotel room?
Purchase some new white 300-count (or more) sheets and then apply the triple-sheeting technique where you put a thin blanket in between your top sheet and your actual comforter for more of a layered and hotel-like feel. Buy a couple of terry cloth robes. Put together a toiletry basket with things like candles, massage oil and fruits in it. Get a three-way light bulb for your lamps. Invest in a blackout curtain (so that you can sleep in the following morning). Consider investing in a sound machine or hopping onto YouTube to listen to ASMR ocean waves or rain videos.
Little touches like these can easily make you feel less like you're in your same ole' bedroom and more like you're in a five-star suite.
10. Create Your Own Bed & Breakfast
If you decide to try the hotel room date, make the moment last even longer by waking up to some good old-fashioned morning sex, followed by a breakfast that both of you make together. If the two of you want to go a couple of more rounds after, make sure that your meal consists of aphrodisiac foods like blueberries, honey, avocados, dark chocolate and ginger. Like maybe a bowl of berries and whipped cream, some chocolate chip pancakes and/or an avocado omelet with some ginger tea. Oh, and don't forget to put it all on a tray and eat it in bed. It'll be the perfect way to end a date—or start an entirely new one, if you know what I mean.
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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. ;)
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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Something that I honestly don’t mind doing, for the most part, is aging. Even though I absolutely know that genetics play a huge part in what I’m about to say, as time keeps on moving, I really do get that the more intentional I am about my health, the more I can be a poster child for what looking damn near magnificent at my age can truly be. If anything, the only thing that kind of gets on my nerves (just a lil’ bit) is that I have to proactively stay on top of things that I never had to consider before my 40s decided to show up. One of those things is how sensitive my vagina and vulva seem to be getting.
“Sensitive” in the sense that I can’t just eat whatever and not feel the repercussions down there on some level (check out “Here’s What Your Vagina Wishes You Would Eat LESS Of”). Also, it’s weird, but certain types of underwear seem to make “her” roll her eyes at me, too; I think it’s because, as estrogen levels shift as we get older, vaginal walls and vulvar skin tends to become thinner and more fragile.
Factoring all of this in is why, not only do I get new pairs of panties every six months or so, but I also am a bit more particular about the kinds that I buy — these days, cute is still a priority; it’s just that they’ve gotta look good and have some of the specific qualities that I’m about to share with you now. And you know what? Ever since I’ve been more intentional and hypervigilant when it comes to my panty shopping list, my vagina really has been that much happier. She really has.
Now for my top 10 suggestions as far as panty shopping goes, please look for the following.
1. Natural Fibers
For the sake of time and space, I’m going to use “vagina” for both the inner tube that connects your cervix to your vaginal opening (which is actually your vagina) and the outside of your vagina (which is your vulva) quite a bit. Just thought that should go on record to avoid any potential confusion.
That said, something that your vagina needs to do is breathe. That’s why, when it comes to the types of fabric that you should go with when it comes to your vagina, cotton needs to always top the list — well, that or bamboo, which is steadily becoming a fan favorite. That’s because it’s hypoallergenic, sustainable, contains antibacterial and antifungal, and (get this) it doesn’t shrink after several washes.
Another nice option is silk. It feels really soft on your skin, is pretty moisture-wicking (more on that in a sec), and, if you want panties that look and feel a bit more “high-end,” silk can get that done for you without irritating your skin like lace might. As far as synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and rayon? Eh, not for everyday wear. Satin is okay, but it really is best for lounging around in or for lingerie (same goes for lace).
As far as actual panty styles go, briefs (any cut), hipsters, bikinis, boy shorts, and mid-rise are wise options. They fit well and give your vagina and butt the space that it needs.
As far as the whole moisture-wicking thing goes, when it comes to your undies and your workout wear, look for items that say that on the package and/or labels. Moisture-wicking simply means that the material is made in such a way that it draws moisture away from your body and onto the outer layer of whatever it is that you have on; as a result, it helps the moisture to dry faster. Your vagina benefits from this because it’s already naturally lubricated and warm down there — so when there is too much moisture, that can make it a breeding ground for vaginal infections if you’re not careful.
If you’re wondering which underwear brands are best as far as moisture-wicking is concerned, Women’s Health can hook you up. Check out their article, “18 Best Moisture-Wicking Underwear, Per Gynecologists And Reviews”.
3. Built-In Gussets
You know that little pocket of fabric that’s on the inside of panties? It wasn’t until I saw a TikTok that featured a woman putting some dollar bills into it (you can get some context here) that I gave it much thought. Well, it’s called a gusset, and what it does is 1) make your panties stronger and 2) help to absorb moisture, so definitely get panties that include them (many thongs don’t, by the way).
Oh, and as far as that lil’ hack that I just mentioned? I’m not sure how you can discreetly get your moola out that way. Plus, money is dirtier than a toilet (which is why some restaurants have shifted to a card-only policy ever since COVID), so…there’s that. If you wanna test the hack out anyway, please wrap the money in a tiny plastic baggie first; just to be on the safe side.
4. Proper Fit
If you’ve ever heard that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra,HuffPost recently ran a piece that claims that this finding is still true (get professionally fitted, y’all…it makes all the difference in the world!). And if that many of us aren’t wearing the right size up top, I’m pretty sure that plenty aren’t down below either. One way to know is if the band around your waist or thighs feels too snug. Another is if you can see your panty lines through your clothing.
And here’s the thing — when panties are too snug, they also trap in moisture, which can trigger an infection (if not immediately, eventually). Not only that, but they can irritate your vulva “thanks” (which is really, no thanks) to the friction that tight drawers can create. Sometimes, finding the right panties can be a bit of trial and error. That’s okay. It’s worth it to find the ones that fit you like a glove. I know this firsthand.
5. Ones That Stay Out of Your Butt Crack (No, Seriously)
Thongs can be sexy. I get that. Personally, I can’t see comfortably keeping them on for more than a few minutes, which is why I think they’re a good foreplay option, and that’s about it (#Elmoshrug). Not only that, but they aren’t the most hygienic things in the world. You’ve got this thin piece of fabric that moves in and out of your butt crack, and that makes it easier for fecal matter to shift from your backside to your vagina (no joke). I mean, we’re taught to wipe from front to back, right? Thongs don’t care about that rule. And since there is reportedly one-tenth of a gram of crap in each pair of underwear already…yeah, wear things sparingly. Your vagina is begging you.
We all have “period drawers.” Still, if you’re someone who wears tampons or menstrual cups instead of pads, you really shouldn’t keep those around for more than 3-4 months tops. Although washing them (effectively) should get rid of the bacteria that come from the blood, there’s always a chance that it won’t. So, just to be on the safe side, don’t keep period panties forever simply because you only wear them once a month. Oh, and if you’ve always wondered about if period panties are safe — eh. Many do contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are potentially harmful. You can read more about all of that here, here, and here so that you can come to a decision that is truly best for you.
7. Super Dry
There’s nothing wrong with carrying a couple of extra panties along with you, just in case. Personally, I think the move is brilliant because if it’s a really hot day (for instance) and your panties are damp, putting on a fresh and dry pair will significantly reduce the chances of your vagina getting itchy and/or irritated. Yeah, if there’s one top rule for panties that your vagina absolutely adores, DRY ONES are what I’m sure she’s yelling from the very top of her lungs.
8. Not At Night
Any part of your body being covered up for 24 hours at a time, seven days a week, nonstop, is going to cause some problems at some point (which is why some women opt to not wear panties, pretty much…ever; check out “10 Women Told Me Why They Stopped Wearing Panties (And They Don't Regret It)”). This is the reason why it really is a good idea to sleep naked (or at least with no panties on) as often as possible. It gives your vagina some time to literally chill out before it has to go through another, what, at least 12-16 hours of being cooped up on a pair of drawers again.
While we’re here, make sure that your sheets are made out of cotton, bamboo, silk, or some other type of breathable fiber. It’s pretty counterproductive to have no panties on, and yet you’re still sweating because your sheets aren’t moisture-wicking. Feel me?
9. Annual Swap Outs
Listen, if there’s one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that some people have the strangest cleanliness (or lack thereof) habits on the entire planet. That’s why I take certain suggestions, by certain “folks”, with a grain of salt. For instance, even though some people think that panties don’t need an expiration date, I go with others who believe that they absolutely do (for instance, due to what I said about the whole thong thing).
I mean, if changing them a couple of times a day is a good move, why would I want to hold on to discharge, pubic hair and bacteria holders for longer than a year or so? Yeah, treat your vagina and yourself to no less than an annual new panty-shopping excursion. See it as self-maintenance self-love…because it is.
10. Hand-Washed Is Preferred. Because…
If you’ve been on the fence about getting your own washer and dryer, Google articles on how nasty a washing machine (especially) can be — especially one at a public laundromat; it’s literally a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. I’ve even read before that one dirty item will easily spread to 90 percent of everything else in the washer. Lawd. That’s why, if you do have your own washing machine, you should clean it every month (some use bleach; I prefer white vinegar). And when it comes to your panties, you may want to go with handwashing them.
Not only will that help to keep the “gunk” in your washer away from your delicates, but you can also keep harsher detergents from irritating your vagina too (if you want to take a stab at making some of your own, a cool recipe is here). By the way, if you’re like me and you’ve got a ton of undies, a salad spinner (that’s solely devoted to cleaning your panties) can save you some time. You can read more about it here.
Now that you know what kind of panties your vagina is actually into, if it’s time to get some new ones, budget for that. Underwear is certainly not a luxury. As you can see, a good quality pair is a necessity for all kinds of different reasons.
Your vagina does so much for you — take good care of her. Get some new (and vaginally responsible) drawers, chile. SOON.
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