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. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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Embarking on a celibacy journey was a plot twist in my life that I never saw coming.
Sex was my comfort zone and that fact was something I didn’t come to terms with until my late twenties when I met a man who in a lot of ways allowed me to embody the fullness of myself fearlessly in ways I might have not realized at the time. I spent many years before that over-identifying with my sexual side because it was the part of me that I met with the least resistance and the part of me the people outside of me welcomed with open arms so I leaned into it. That coupled with my emotional unavailability at the time, made for an ease and a lack of emotional risk that allowed me to connect with others without getting in too deep.
I know now that it was why I felt comfortable talking openly about sex, be it to strangers, be it in situationships and no-strings-attached flings, be it on this very platform. While that’s not to say that my sexuality isn’t mine, it is to say there was an unhealthy element attached to it because of the way I didn’t realize I was using it at the time. In a strange way, I was using it as a shield.
I was masquerading as this evolved, fully healed version of myself with a healthy relationship with sex and my sexuality but in reality, I was lost and scared of being hurt so badly sometimes that I led with sex as a way to avoid true intimacy and being vulnerable. These are all things that I unpacked and discovered about myself last year during my shadow work sessions with my shadow work guide, Jordan Jeppe.
In her course offerings, Jeppe guides you through celibacy as a tool for deeper self-love. With reports of millennials and Gen-Zers engaging in less sex than previous generations, and even articles from our platform like, "More Women Are Taking The 'Girlfriend' Title & Exclusivity Off The Table In Dating — Here's Why," it's clear we are experiencing shifts in the romantic landscape for one reason or another where more focus is being placed on self.
Although my own celibacy journey is more seasonal and sporadic than year-round, I fell in love with unlocking a deeper understanding of myself and being able to start the work of confronting parts of myself that I otherwise may have not been honest about. I was met with the pain of my patterns but also the freedom that comes with allowing myself to be really seen. Celibacy for me was a vessel for healing, for self-love, but also for self-development.
Viewing celibacy as a tool to deepen that journey into self doesn't just point to society's increasing desire to opt out of hookup culture, but the collective desire to opt into choices that reflect wholeness versus lack. For more insight on how to use your season of sexlessness for better self-love, creating rules on your celibacy journey, and tips on how to discuss being celibate, Jordan Jeppe acts as our guide.
Elevating Self-Love on Your Celibacy Journey
The intentional reframing of self-love as a throughline in her celibacy course was a component Jeppe felt was necessary because of her own experiences of attracting partners who ultimately acted as a mirror of her lack of self-love at the time.
She explained, "When you love yourself, you don't settle in relationships that are half-assed, or just meet the bare minimum." Adding that when "You know you are worthy of more, you don't put yourself in situations to be treated poorly, over and over and over again, because you have the confidence and the self-worth to know that you don't deserve that."
A lot of us are led to forget ourselves because we are taught at a young age to believe our worthiness can be found in others. Our tendency to self-sacrifice leads us to prioritize others before ourselves and struggle to feel worthy outside of our doing for others. Jeppe assures that this conditioning takes away our power. "What we start doing is we start looking for people to complete us and we don’t think that we are worthy of being whole on our own."
For her, self-love and celibacy going hand in hand is necessary in order "to step into what we feel worthy of, and what we know that we want and where what we need to feel seen and heard and supported by another person."
Setting Boundaries on Your Celibacy Journey
Jeppe encourages those embarking on a celibacy journey to implement a set of rules to help them stay on track and act in alignment with their goals and intentions for being celibate. Needless to say, the earliest stages of the journey are a person's most vulnerable so cutting communication with temptation is essential. "No communication with exes, flings, or situationships" is the baseline. She adds, "No communication is important because that's a practice of setting a boundary, the practice of showing yourself that you are worthy. And it also cuts out temptation."
Being honest with yourself about your relationship with self-pleasure is also a must. "I think it's important to understand your relationship to self-pleasure, and what you get from it, whether it's serving you as a distraction, or to not feel things on a deeper level," she says. "If your program of pleasing yourself is to escape an uncomfortable emotion or to not think about what’s coming up, because as you know, a lot comes up in your celibacy journey, it’s understanding there might need to be a rule set there."
A rule like this could look like removing self-pleasure from your celibacy journey for at least eight weeks so you're not avoiding the work of addressing shadows or using it as an escape. Self-pleasure can be a very empowering tool on your journey. Ensure you use it wisely.
In line with that is Jeppe's hard no to dating at the beginning stages of being celibate, for at least five weeks. Her course is structured that way, where you spend the first few weeks getting clear on your shadows, honing in on your tendency to people please, be emotionally unavailable, or be codependent. Whether you are enrolled in her course or not, saying no to dating in the early stages of your sexless season allows for intentional time and focus spent on self.
After those suggested five weeks or whatever timeline you feel works best for you, you can open yourself up to what dating while celibate can look like. Jeppe supports dating during celibacy "because that’s how you take what you are learning and you practice it and that is necessary because you cannot have change without having awareness and action."
The beautiful thing about creating rules for your celibacy journey is that it's your journey, so your rules can be molded to adhere to your values, your relationships, or any number of things that factor into your guideline needs. There are different strokes for different folks and her baseline for effective celibacy guidelines might look different from yours. To start your own set of celibacy rules, Jeppe advises looking at past relationships not necessarily at your failures, but the things about the relationship(s) that didn't work well for you.
"If you are someone that really resisted saying no to a past partner, had murky boundaries, or just didn’t feel comfortable communicating what was going on for you, that’s going to be a red flag of your own boundary-setting," she explains.
"Before you begin celibacy, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. What wasn’t working in your past that almost hindered you, from your growth into your success? And looking at those things and making those things your rules. It could also be, you know, poor sexual boundaries. Again, that self-pleasure aspect, the no dating [rule]. [If you] catch yourself on dating apps all the time, swiping to swipe, getting hits of validation, [tell yourself] no dating apps."
Dating with Purpose: When and How to Tell Someone You're Dating You're Celibate
When to tell someone you're dating that you're celibate is a common question for people who choose to date while they're celibate. "I usually recommend doing it [on the] first or second date because you don't want to lead anyone on. You also don't want to lead yourself on. And, if you are committed through the timeline of celibacy, then this is just how you set yourself up for success," Jeppe explains. "Remember those guidelines. That looks like being honest."
Jeppe adds that you should try telling the person you're dating that you're celibate in person. An example of what that looks like can be as simple as:
“Hey, I like where this is going. I am enjoying how I am feeling with you. I want to let you know before things progress that I am celibate and that I am committed to my journey. If this is something that you would like to know more about, I am willing to share that with you. If this is not aligned with you, then that’s okay. I wish you well and it was lovely getting to know you.”
With the script above, Jeppe notes that by approaching the admittance this way, your self-worth is saying, "'I love myself enough to say and express understanding my values of what I want and what I am experiencing and how the other person reacts has nothing to do with me."
You can also opt to explicitly say, "I am celibate." In either instance, Jeppe says to "pay attention to how the other person responds. Do they support you or do they try to gaslight you? Or say, 'Oh, why would you do that?' Or, 'What are you actually getting from that?' Or try to talk you out of it? Red flags."
But, What if You ‘Break’ Your Celibacy and Regret It?
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As with anything, you might make an attempt to try something new, make a misstep, and fall. But falling doesn't mean failure. Breaking your celibacy is no different, and having feelings of regret or shame often come with it. "I broke my celibacy for a one-night stand five months in [my journey]," Jeppe recalls. "I am someone that has been there and I have also [gone] through the shame and the guilt that you put on yourself after doing it, and I have felt those feelings." She adds, "Now how I see breaking your celibacy is an opportunity."
If you have broken your celibacy streak recently and are experiencing those inevitable feelings of guilt, Jeppe wants you to remember how you choose to see breaking your celibacy is up to you. Jeppe believes it is an opportunity to understand what you were attracted to in that person and what that says about you. There was a reason you put yourself in that situation and Jeppe says it is a brave act of courage to take accountability in that way. Ask yourself, "What was I attracted to in that person? How did that person make me feel? When have I been allowing myself to feel that with myself?"
"Oftentimes, the reason why we break our celibacy is because the ego will come up. If you don't do the ego work, the ego's like, 'I deserve it, I was just feeling it, it felt really good.' And you are not paying attention to all that other red flags going on, right? Your ego is saying, 'I deserve it, I just spent 10 weeks celibate.' If you can’t recognize that the ego is showing up in those scenarios, then there’s an opportunity for you to understand, 'Oh, what was my ego actually wanting?' Because it’s usually rooted in some source of validation."
Jeppe says that if you break your celibacy, that’s okay. Allow yourself to release the shame and look for growth. In removing the shame you are owning your decisions even if it's a choice you wish you didn't make. How can you give yourself permission to grow beyond and choose differently in the future versus allowing the moment to define you?
"We are so rooted in shame. Everything we do is the part of shame," Jeppe shares. "Women being in pleasure have already [been] shamed enough. We don’t need to shame ourselves. We just need to understand what it was that we were attracted to, and why we did it." And then, let it go and begin again.
Beware of the Celibacy Crutch
Similar to the way sexual liberation acted as a shield for me to avoid vulnerability, for some, vulnerability can also be avoided underneath the veil of celibacy. "There's a flip side of celibacy, that it's almost as a crutch, that it's like, 'Oh, I am so good in my own energy and my own power that I don't even want to bring anyone in,'" Jeppe starts. While she applauds people standing in their power, she questions whether being so "good" alone is a defense that manifests out of fear.
To truly heal, you must also be able to allow others into the journey and experience of you. Dating can be a self-development tool. In fact, Jeppe often encourages the women she works with to start dating as a form of that practice. "How else are you going to practice your boundary setting? How else are you going to be triggered? Because I am sorry, that’s what’s going to happen," she says. "So, how can you see dating as a continuation of your self-development? And when you see it that way, you are also allowing yourself to go deeper in your own journey."
When to Stop Being Celibate
Your celibacy journey is created by your timeline. It could be years, or it could be six months or less. The ending point is specific to the person and is contingent upon how the person on the journey is feeling with their goals and intentions. When it comes to knowing when to stop being celibate, Jeppe describes it as an innate inner knowing of, "'I have done a lot of work on myself. I am feeling confident. And I am ready to put what I have learned up to the test.'" She also notes signs like no longer having bitterness towards the ex and "receiving and practicing your own form of validation" are how you know that you are ready to end celibacy towards the end.
The way you navigate your world looks like really allowing yourself to be seen "and allowing this new version of you to be appreciated," whether that be in the forms of your relationships, friendships, or your career. In that way, you are no longer seeking outside of yourself to validate yourself, you have already established that for yourself.
In a sense, your celibacy journey might not "stop" as it is intentional time that you spend with self and it occurs that way until it doesn't anymore, to resume when you need to begin again. Dating might indicate you're nearing the end of it, yes, but in another sense, the journey is always evolving. "The work that you are doing on yourself, you will continue evolving and growing when you meet other people, and they are going to reflect back aspects of yourself and you are gonna be like, 'Holy shit, I thought I worked on that through celibacy.' And it’s gonna show up and if it shows up, it’s okay, because now you have the tools compared to when you didn’t."
"I think it’s a lot of perception shifting, not seeing the end of celibacy having to be like the manifestation of your partner, while it can be, that’s also what has happened for me, but I would never sell it like that because I don’t want to give this false hope. What it is, is you continuing that journey of understanding what you need and what you want," Jeppe concludes.
"And so it’s like, 'Wow, what a beautiful next chapter to begin exploring yourself again.'"
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