I've always been an overachiever in life, excelling in whatever it was I poured myself into. When it came to my love life, it was no different.
Or so I thought.
I had this notion that if I followed all the steps and did everything right on my end that everything would fall into place. Little did I know, that's not exactly how life goes, especially regarding love.
Love is patient, love is kind, but what happens when you aren't?
What happens when you choose to jump ahead of Cupid, and he uses you for target practice instead of his primary target?
I'll tell you what happens; you end up settling.
I was nineteen years old in a relationship with a man ten years my senior.
I know what you are thinking and looking back on it, you're right. But things happened, and here I am. We started off as friends, and it evolved into something more.
I was a freshman in college and had little experience in the dating world outside of high school puppy love. He pulled out all the stops in the romance department and not having experienced anything else I was impressed. I remember him continuously saying to me that he was a rare find and no other man would treat me as good as he did. Being young and naive in all departments of life, especially love, I believed him.
However, in accepting what I was fed, I never once felt that spark, that blissful feeling of happily ever after; you know like you see in the movies. I brushed it off and labeled it as a phase and told myself, "This is as good as its probably going to get for you."
My second year of college, I got pregnant. I'll admit that I wasn't too thrilled because it wasn't a part of my plan.
The kids weren't supposed to come until two years after I'd graduated, but he treated it as if he was checking something off of his list of shit to do before reaching thirty. My parents were divorced, and his had been married for thirty plus years. In his head, it was what was supposed to happen at the right time for him and that was his primary concern. Upon us telling friends that we were expecting, it was mentioned that we should get married. He was on board; I was hesitant.
I knew I wanted to get married, but even after all this time dating this man, I never once saw myself growing old with him. We talked about it more, and he sensed my hesitation in not wanting to do it. He then started to remind me repeatedly that he was a rare find and no other man was going to treat me the way he did. He even took it a step further and told me how lucky I was that a man like him wanted to marry me and this is what was best for our child.
I agreed and stood before a judge in the courthouse of my hometown and married the man who didn't make me happy.
One year later, I began to change. Every day, I was going through the motions to just get through the twenty-four hours. I wasn't happy and felt undone in many areas of my life. I came home to a man who complained about me not generating income and suggested that I get a job. I didn't know how I was supposed to balance a job going to school full-time, maintain a 3.0, and take care of a baby who was only in daycare for my school hours. His nagging went on for a while so I had to quit school to get a full-time job in hopes that if I made him happy, I'd be satisfied.
The problem with that theory is I didn't know at the time that I was responsible for my happiness.
It wasn't until we moved to Florida for his job that everything started to sink in. I found myself depressed and married to a man who didn't notice anything outside of his own needs. I didn't want him to touch me at all, so when we had sex, it was out of obligation and not passion. Every day became harder and harder to cope with life.
I was miserable.
I would go to the bathroom and shut the door for my daily crying session. One day, that was interrupted by my two-year-old son who had walked in. I didn't notice him at first until his tiny frame pressed against me and held my face so he could wipe away the tears. In that moment, I found a piece of myself that wanted better for the eyes staring back at me.
When my husband got home that night, I told him I was leaving. He wanted to know why and I told him everything I'd been feeling and have felt for the past couple of years. He seemed confused and began to regurgitate that same manipulative phrase over and over again. When he realized it no longer worked, he grew angry, then he spouted off hateful words about how ungrateful and undeserving I was to have a man like him. He was right; I didn't deserve a man like him, I deserved better.
I deserved a man that I loved, and he wasn't it.
I made the ten-hour drive back to my home state with my son in tow and never looked back. I remember pulling into my mother's driveway and having the feeling of relief wash over me. After that, I struggled with forgiving myself for being that naive nineteen-year-old girl who was falling for any and everything because she didn't know who she was. It became a burden, and I lived my life for a while full of regret and what-ifs. It wasn't until my mother and I had a very real conversation about my choices, she told me to stop feeling sorry for myself, and that the lessons from my choices help shape the person she knows is deep down inside. I asked her if she knew that he wasn't the one for me. She said "yes" and then told me, "As a parent, you allow your children to make their own mistakes and figure it out."
That's what I did.
I figured my life out. I immersed myself in my faith and found God in the dark places of my mind that I thought I'd never escape. It was then I discovered that I wasn't prepared to fall in love with anyone because I hadn't yet fallen in love with myself. That was the very reason why I'd always sold myself short on what I deserved. If I wanted to get anywhere in life, I had to change this.
I started by looking in the mirror every morning and telling the reflection that was looking back at me that I am proud of the woman she is and who she is becoming.
I told her that she was beautiful, kind, smart, and worthy of a fairytale love.
Telling myself those things was the easy part, believing them was hard. I kept at the routine until I started to believe everything I was saying. In that belief, I found my worth, which changed how I viewed love. I now view love as sacrifice. You have to be willing to sacrifice for the other person. At this point in my life, I'm only willing to do that for my son, so I've chosen to take a break from dating for now and focus on my passion, which is writing. I want to show my son that no matter what you go through in life you can always change it and find a way to follow your dreams.
However, while I'm on my break from the dating world, I'm still navigating through exactly what I want in a potential partner. While doing this, I've decided to remain celibate because I value my body now more than ever. Whenever I decide to jump back into the dating game, I want to be prepared and know that I am now dating with a purpose. That purpose is to find someone who I'll be willing to sacrifice for and receive the same in return. I'm taking my time and observing my mistakes because although they don't haunt me anymore, I'm still working on forgiving myself for making them.
In the meantime, I'll be living a life of fulfillment and passion.
I'm going back to school in the spring to study my craft. I will continue to work on myself because I now understand that it is okay to be a work in progress and a masterpiece. I had to learn how to love myself, and know my worth before I can expect someone else to. In determining my value, I move differently in life, especially regarding love.
Settling doesn't live here anymore.
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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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I didn’t think much could get better about the blissful high that comes with oral. That was until I came across the Kivin Method.
As someone who was never a huge fan of oral sex and could largely take it or leave it, I must admit that I have started to come around in recent years. With my head thrown back, hands gripping sheets and hair, and toes curling from the intense sensations of the work my partner is putting in at my center, I now give myself over to the pleasurable act wholly and unapologetically.
When I came across a way to maximize the pleasure I receive from cunnilingus (already), I had no choice but to tap in. Who knew the key to taking oral sex to new heights was giving it a sideways twist? For those of you who might also be interested in ways to spice up the way you do oral, experience faster and stronger orgasms, or simply want to indulge in something new with your partner, the Kivin Method could definitely be the oral sex technique for you, too.
Keep reading to learn about the method that is sure to have you writhing in ecstasy in no time at all.
What Is The Kivin Method?
For the uninitiated, the Kivin Method is an oral sex technique that focuses on stimulating the clitoris from a different angle. Dubbed “sideways oral” by some, this method involves the action of giving head from a side-to-side movement as opposed to the up-and-down motion that people typically perform when giving head. (If you need a visual, this illustration is helpful.)
The difference in approach as you’re receiving head can be a game-changer in how you receive pleasure. Not only does the giving partner have access to the clitoris, but they can also access more easily the vulva and the labia, which are objectively a bigger focus in this version of cunnilingus. More access means wider coverage, and that, plus the new sensation of oral from a different angle, can heighten the way you experience oral sex that much more.
Where more pleasure flows, intense orgasms are sure to follow.
How To Do The Kivin Method
If you want to know how to do the Kivin Method, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The receiver lays on their back while the giver positions themselves perpendicular to the receiver. Their head will be facing the vulva, but instead of vertical, their face will be horizontal to the vulva.
From there, the giver can get to business, ensuring that they keep their head perpendicular to the receiver’s vulva while working on their craft. Because this technique can be more intense for some receivers, start slowly by stroking the vulva and clitoris sideways with the tongue, and allow sensations and communication from the receiver to be a guide of what you need more or less of with the Kivin Method.
Ultimately, the Kivin Method allows experimentation and unlocking what pressure, rhythm, and tricks work best for the giver and the receiver. Try implementing a finger or two, or adding a sex toy to the mix to intensify the act even further.
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