Aight. Today, I'm going to tackle a topic that, while it may not be discussed a lot, it definitely needs to be. I say that because, when it comes to a lot of the couples that I work with, it never fails that sex is a leading challenge. And when it comes to what the issues are concerning sex, there are plenty — and I mean, PLENTY — of times when someone (usually the husband, I'm just gonna be real) will say that their partner is moody as hell in the bedroom. Hmph. And just what is that supposed to mean?
While there are layers of answers to that question, in this case, I think a surface-level definition of moody will more than suffice. To be moody is to be someone who lacks consistency to the point where your feelings and behaviors can literally switch up without any heads up — shoot, sometimes without any clear cause (like hormonal shifts or stress) either. And here's the thing about that — whether a lot of us choose to accept it or not, we can control our emotions (especially how we express them) so much more than we tend to do.
In walks sexual mood swings. One minute you're down for whatever. The next minute, you're irritated AF at the mere thought of your partner even touching you. And again, while there could be some physical reasons behind why this is the case (and I will touch on a couple of those here), what I also want to explore today are things that are more about mere attitudes and expectations — things that we can get a hold on very quickly…if we would simply choose to.
Keeping all of this in mind, if you know that you are quite the roller coaster ride — and not in a good way — when it comes to copulation, here are some reasons why that could be the case. Because once you get to the root of why you're feeling the way that you do, it can be so much easier to bring things back into balance. Including in the bedroom.
Do You Have Unrealistic Sexual Expectations?
Again, since I counsel married couples, sex tends to come up quite a bit (that's a part of the reason why I write so much about sex too; on some levels, it's an occupational hazard). And when one or both spouses tell me that "meh" is basically how they would describe how things are sexually going for them, I will sometimes say what I don't think is said enough — just like people can have super unrealistic expectations when it comes to their relationship overall, the same thing can be applied to their sex life.
And just how can you be "sexually unrealistic"? If you require hours of sex every time. If you're damn near demanding multiple orgasms — or shoot, even one or two — every single encounter. If you want your current partner to be like a former one (check out "You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?"). If the sex needs to seem like some outtake from your favorite movie or song every time you do it…these are all examples of not taking a practical approach to coitus.
Don't get me wrong, you deserve for sex to be consistently pleasurable. I'm just saying that sometimes that means learning how to just relax and embrace the closeness and intimacy of being with your partner rather than always expecting Independence Day level fireworks. If you're someone who believes otherwise, this could be the reason why you are sexually moody as all get out. Whew, chill out a bit.
Do You Rely Too Much on "Making Love"?
I've shared, multiple times before, that I'm not a huge fan of the phrase "make love". Personally, I believe that when two people are committed to one another and then they come together physically, they are celebrating the love that already exists; they aren't making love happen. Chile, believe you me — if you're out here looking for sex to make love evolve, you are definitely setting yourself up to be on an emotional roller coaster ride.
Hmph. It makes me think of something that Tank once said in an interview (I would link it, but it was a bit…much). He stated that he can barely know a woman, have sex with her and make her feel like he's been in love with her for years. He's not the only person who thinks way and it really is a cautionary tale; it's a reminder that the physical act of sex can be bomb yet that doesn't automatically or necessarily mean that a solid and reliable emotional connection has been established.
This is why it is oh so very important that you are clear on your own motives for having sex with someone, that you articulate them with your partner beforehand and that you're honest with them and yourself about what you desire beyond the act up the pike. Otherwise, you could find yourself feeling confused, becoming disillusioned or needing to read "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner" over and over again. And all of these options are a lot on the emotional tip.
Do You Know Exactly When You’re Ovulating?
Since I've been doing this "no sex thing" for a while now, it's not uncommon that I'll be asked for some "abstinence hacks". One of my top ones is to put a period tracker on your phone. The reason why is so you'll know when you're ovulating. And just why is that relevant? Well, that's the time of the month when you are the most likely to get pregnant and, as nature would have it, that's usually when we are the horniest too. So, if there's a part of you that is always wondering why, oh, about two weeks since your last period, all you can think about is getting some, the fact that you are dropping an egg probably plays a really big role in that. Shoot, even the women I know who kinda have the "I can take it or leave it" attitude about sex will turn around and turn into a real maneater when they're ovulating. And it makes totally sense why that would be the case.
When’s the Last Time You Got Your Hormone Levels Checked?
Listen, I don't care how old you are (because some people only attribute this point to PMS, pregnancy or menopause), it can never hurt to get your hormone levels checked, at least on a biannual basis. There are a billion reasons why this can prove to be so beneficial for you; however, as it relates to this particular point, if your hormones are all over the place, this could explain why you are pretty unpredictable as far as sex is concerned. For instance, if you happen to have an elevated level of testosterone, your libido may be higher. On the other hand, if your estrogen levels aren't where they are supposed to be, you could end up with erratic mood swings, jacked up sleep patterns and less interest in coitus.
At the end of the day, no one is really moody, "just because". More times than not, it's a sign that something is off kilter on a mental, emotional or physical level. Getting your hormones checked on a fairly consistent basis can help you to stay balanced on the physical tip. It can help to ward off sexual mood swings too.
Do You Rely on Sex to “Make It All Better”?
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good". You know, a part of the reason why I discourage people from having sex too soon is because it can cloud your judgment in the sense that it can cultivate a bond with someone (which is what oxytocin is designed to do) without really getting to know if the two of you are a good fit outside of sexual activity. And so, as you get closer to one another, you could find yourself in the cul-de-sac of always having sex to fix your problems or communicate without drama, all the while avoiding the reality that the relationship may not be the best fit for you.
I've seen a lot of people — too many, in fact — stay in some pretty toxic situations because, instead of getting some therapy, they will jump (back) into the sheets, believing that good sex will make everything all better. Now, am I saying that make-up sex is a bad thing? No. What I am saying is sex is best applied when you've resolved a matter and then engage instead of always running from a problem and then using sex as a distraction. Bottom line, if make-up sex is the only remedy that seems to work for you and yours, your sexual mood swings make a lot of sense because, if you're really honest with yourself, things only fully "feel good" when sex is transpiring. This means that when sex isn't going down, there's no telling when bullshishery is going to hit the fan.
Is Sex Usually ALL About You?
When it comes to sexual mood swings, some of the most unpredictable people are those who are selfish lovers — and yes, those totally do exist. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in sessions with couples where wives expect to receive oral sex yet the thought of giving it is "gross" or husbands think that being married means that sex should happen whenever they feel like it, regardless on if their partner is truly in the mood or not. The reality is the couples who have the most productive and fulfilling sex lives are the ones where each partner gets off the most from pleasuring the person they are with; this results in both people feeling desirable, a priority and totally open to sexual satisfaction.
If you're not this kind of person, sex is going to be up-and-down for you because no one wants to be with someone who is solely focused on what they can receive over what they are willing to give (do). Make sense?
Are You Naturally Moody, Anyway?
The older I get, something that I like more and more is consistency. As a result, what I desire to have less around me is moodiness. Moody folks can be draining AF because you never really know who — or shoot, even what — you are dealing with at any given time. And what's really a trip is some folks are so used to being in a state of internal chaos that they don't mind being emotionally all over the place and wreaking havoc on others.
It makes me think of a husband I know who's been married to his wife for a couple of decades now yet seriously considers ending their marriage, at least a couple of times a year. His main reason why? "Dealing with her is the ultimate gaslight because if I'm not walking on eggshells, I'm having to play a guessing game of what she's feeling and thinking. Sometimes, on an hourly basis," is what he says. His wife? She takes on the "Well, you signed up for being with me, so deal with it." Yeah, that's a pretty jacked up way to look at it.
There's no way that you can be a "naturally moody individual" and it not affect your sex life on some level. Whether it's hormones, substance abuse, internalizing issues, taking on an entitled attitude (I promise you that I'm gonna circle around to doing an article on entitlement one of these days) or just not exhibiting self-control, it really doesn't serve you well to "just be moody" all of the time. Set up an appointment with your physician and/or a reputable therapist/counselor/life coach, so that you can get your life back on track. You'll be all the better for it. So will your relationship and your sex life. Promise you that.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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